Meanings and Policy Implications of “Transformative Research”: Frontiers, Hot Science, Evolution, and Investment Risk [Book Review]

Minerva 50 (1):21-44 (2012)

In recent times there has been a surge in interest on policy instruments to stimulate scientific and engineering research that is of greater consequence, advancing our knowledge in leaps rather than steps and is therefore more “creative” or, in the language of recent reports, “transformative.” Associated with the language of “transformative research” there appears to be much enthusiasm and conviction that the future of research is tied to it. However, there is very little clarity as to what exactly it is and what criteria might be used to design policy instruments to make more of it happen. In this paper, we contribute to the construction of a framework within which some conceptual clarity might be gained. We develop four analogies, or metaphors, that are found in the discourse about “transformative research” and show what they imply for the meaning of the notion and, as a result, both the phenomena that might be associated with it and the levers that would be available to design policy instruments. The analogies serving as theoretical metaphors that we propose, and also document to be present either explicitly or implicitly in the discourse about “transformative research,” are the stock market highlighting risk; the process of evolution and its selection mechanisms; the process of popular culture and the power of “hot” events; and exploration of the frontier of the unknown. No single analogy covers all the relevant issues. Together they help identify a field of phenomena and the potential and challenges “transformative research” presents to policy
Keywords Transformative research  Science policy  Research evaluation
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11024-012-9190-x
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 44,462
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - University of Chicago Press.
Objective Knowledge.Karl R. Popper - 1972 - Oxford, Clarendon Press.
The Mangle of Practice.Andrew Pickering & Jed Z. Buchwald - 1995 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 47 (3):479-482.

View all 11 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Developing a Federal Policy on Research Misconduct.Sybil Francis - 1999 - Science and Engineering Ethics 5 (2):261-272.
Action Research and Policy.Lorraine Foreman-Peck & Jane Murray - 2008 - Journal of Philosophy of Education 42 (s1):145-163.
Responsible Research: What is Expected?Stephanie J. Bird - 2010 - Science and Engineering Ethics 16 (4):693-696.


Added to PP index

Total views
19 ( #459,935 of 2,273,203 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #826,598 of 2,273,203 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature