Project Overview

Our multi-method study seeks to explore the interplay of valuation and inequalities in science, using the interdisciplinary and planet-critical field of forest research as an empirical case. It examines which/whose knowledge is recognised on what grounds, and how social dimensions like gender and geographical location impact the scholars’ social and epistemic positions. Drawing on sociology of science and scientometrics, valuation studies, and inequality scholarship, the project combines bibliometric and ethnographic methods with comparative content analysis of scientific publications. Our geographical focus is on South Africa and Tanzania, countries for which we compile country-specific databases of forest research, along with a ‘global’ one.
Focusing on forest science as an empirical field, the project seeks to generate in-depth findings on inequalities that structure global academia, and to engage with the forest science community for joint reflection. Our interdisciplinary African-European team attempts to provide essential input for ongoing debates, such as on how to foster knowledge diversity for sustainable development and inclusivity as a principle of responsible research.

Bibliometric Field Analysis

In this work package, we will construct a dataset of forest research published in journals that are included in mainstream databases. This database will be used to conduct bibliometric analyses of actors, organisations, and knowledge areas to map the field and identify gender- and geography-related patterns at the level of authors and institutions. The bibliometric mapping provides a starting point for desk research on the key players of the field and the scientific capital they hold.

Ethnographic study

In this work package, we seek to explore how prevailing valuation and collaboration practices counteract or reproduce gender- and geography-related inequalities in forest research. Our ethnographic study focuses specifically on forest policy/governance research as an emerging interdisciplinary social science field concerned with how forests are governed, managed, and used. We conduct reflexive interviews with scholars involved in the field, and observe their interaction at conferences and within research cooperations. Thereby, we seek to understand ‘what counts’ in forest research and how ‘what counts’ advantages or disadvantages certain scholars in the struggle for recognition.

Publication Analysis 
In this work package, we will create country-specific databases of forest research for South Africa and Tanzania. We will use them for bibliometric analyses and perform a comparative content analysis of publications captured by these local databases and the ‘global’ one. Our aim is to examine whether/how epistemic differences/similarities can be traced at the knowledge level, and how these are related to author positions and the social structure of the field. 

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