This article discusses experimentation in the context of sixteenth-century natural history, or natural science as I prefer to call it here. It uses predominantly textual sources, many of them manuscript letters, from different European countries, mainly Italy, the Low Countries, France and Germany-Austria. The focus is on the practice of experimentation and its documentation, partly because I proceed from the assumption that the investigation of living nature did not necessarily entail the same type of experimentation as contemporary alchemy, pharmacy, or (...) medicine, although all these domains of knowledge and their practitioners overlapped. The subject matter to some extent imposed its own rules. The first part of this essay analyses experimentation in the garden, which often combined practical purposes with research ones. The second and third parts discuss experimentation with both plants and animals that originated in more general questions or led to more wide-ranging conclusions about natural phenomena. The final section discusses the links with natural philosophy in these different types of experimentation in natural science, and addresses the possible implications for the concept of experimentation itself in the period shortly before the ”new science” of the seventeenth century. (shrink)
This article addresses the role of science and science advisory bodies in modeling practices for the support of policy-making procedures in the Netherlands in the field of health care. The authors show, based on a detailed investigation of a prestigious interdisciplinary modeling project in which an economic care model was developed for governmental use, that science advisory bodies are entangled with the policy actors they advise in what we call boundary configurations. Boundary configurations are strongly situated interconnections between science advisory (...) institutes and policy institutions that share a specific approach to problem definitions and methods and that are embedded in specific social, discursive, and material elements. Importantly, as the case study shows, such boundary configurations shape the kind of science, and related, the kind of social and political theories about the world, that is effectuated in modeling practices. In this case study, the boundary configuration in which economic experts and policy makers participated contributed to the articulation of health care in terms of a market-based policy program for the health care sector. (shrink)
ArgumentThis article studies the roles three science-based models play in Dutch policy and decision making processes. Key is the interaction between model construction and environment. Their political and scientific environments form contexts that shape the roles of models in policy decision making. Attention is paid to three aspects of the wider context of the models: a) the history of the construction process; b) the political and scientific environments; and c) the use in policy processes over longer periods of time. Models (...) are more successfully used when they are constructed in astablepolitical and scientific environment. Stability and certainty within a scientific field seems to be a key predictor for the usefulness of models for policy making. The economic model is more disputed than the ecology-based model and the model that has its theoretical foundation in physics and chemistry. The roles models play in policy processes are too complex to be considered as straightforward technocratic powers. (shrink)
Theory and Practice of Knowledge Transfer: Studies in School Education in the Ancient Near East and Beyond. Edited by W. S. van Egmond and W. H. van Soldt. Publications de l’Institut histo- rique-archéologique néerlandais de Stamboul, vol. 121. Leiden: Nederlands Instituut voor het NabiJe Oosten, 2012. Pp. 111 + 152. €36.04.
BackgroundPreprint usage is growing rapidly in the life sciences; however, questions remain on the relative quality of preprints when compared to published articles. An objective dimension of quality that is readily measurable is completeness of reporting, as transparency can improve the reader’s ability to independently interpret data and reproduce findings.MethodsIn this observational study, we initially compared independent samples of articles published in bioRxiv and in PubMed-indexed journals in 2016 using a quality of reporting questionnaire. After that, we performed paired comparisons (...) between preprints from bioRxiv to their own peer-reviewed versions in journals.ResultsPeer-reviewed articles had, on average, higher quality of reporting than preprints, although the difference was small, with absolute differences of 5.0% [95% CI 1.4, 8.6] and 4.7% [95% CI 2.4, 7.0] of reported items in the independent samples and paired sample comparison, respectively. There were larger differences favoring peer-reviewed articles in subjective ratings of how clearly titles and abstracts presented the main findings and how easy it was to locate relevant reporting information. Changes in reporting from preprints to peer-reviewed versions did not correlate with the impact factor of the publication venue or with the time lag from bioRxiv to journal publication.ConclusionsOur results suggest that, on average, publication in a peer-reviewed journal is associated with improvement in quality of reporting. They also show that quality of reporting in preprints in the life sciences is within a similar range as that of peer-reviewed articles, albeit slightly lower on average, supporting the idea that preprints should be considered valid scientific contributions. (shrink)