Authors
Sabina Leonelli
University of Exeter
Abstract
This paper discusses what it means and what it takes to integrate data in order to acquire new knowledge about biological entities and processes. Maureen O’Malley and Orkun Soyer have pointed to the scientific work involved in data integration as important and distinct from the work required by other forms of integration, such as methodological and explanatory integration, which have been more successful in captivating the attention of philosophers of science. Here I explore what data integration involves in more detail and with a focus on the role of data-sharing tools, like online databases, in facilitating this process; and I point to the philosophical implications of focusing on data as a unit of analysis. I then analyse three cases of data integration in the field of plant science, each of which highlights a different mode of integration: inter-level integration, which involves data documenting different features of the same species, aims to acquire an interdisciplinary understanding of organisms as complex wholes and is exemplified by research on Arabidopsis thaliana; cross-species integration, which involves data acquired on different species, aims to understand plant biology in all its different manifestations and is exemplified by research on Miscanthus giganteus; and translational integration, which involves data acquired from sources within as well as outside academia, aims at the provision of interventions to improve human health and is exemplified by research on Phytophtora ramorum. Recognising the differences between these efforts sheds light on the dynamics and diverse outcomes of data dissemination and integrative research; and the relations between the social and institutional roles of science, the development of data-sharing infrastructures and the production of scientific knowledge
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2013.03.020
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References found in this work BETA

Interfield Theories.Lindley Darden & Nancy Maull - 1977 - Philosophy of Science 44 (1):43-64.
What’s so Special About Model Organisms?Rachel A. Ankeny & Sabina Leonelli - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (2):313-323.
The Self-Vindication of the Laboratory Sciences.Ian Hacking - 1992 - In Andrew Pickering (ed.), Science as Practice and Culture. University of Chicago Press. pp. 29--64.
Systems Biology and the Integration of Mechanistic Explanation and Mathematical Explanation.Ingo Brigandt - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):477-492.

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Citations of this work BETA

Systems Biology and the Integration of Mechanistic Explanation and Mathematical Explanation.Ingo Brigandt - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):477-492.
On the Nature of Cross-Disciplinary Integration: A Philosophical Framework.Michael O'Rourke, Stephen Crowley & Chad Gonnerman - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 56:62-70.
Data Interpretation in the Digital Age.Sabina Leonelli - 2014 - Perspectives on Science 22 (3):397-417.

View all 24 citations / Add more citations

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