Simulation of research processes
I am interested in structures for the development and dissemination of knowledge. In order to be able to observe and investigate these better, I have created a simulation environment that can simulate specific aspects. I have published my results my book "Die Dynamik von Forschung und Gesellschaft" ("The dynamics of research and society") , 2023, Olms: Hildesheim. ISBN: 978-3-487-16307-9 and open access: DOI: 10.5282/edoc.29687
The book is written in German and describes the framework and shows some simulation experiments. I will continue this idea and will publish more experiments with a better data coverage.
Here is a translation of the introduction:
If we lived in a world perfect for science, we would be able to experience the events that surround us in their entirety through our observation. We would recognise all their properties and relations and understand the laws hidden behind them. Collectively, we would add to our perspectives and thus gradually create an ever more perfect picture of reality. Explanations would become more precise with each further observation and thought. In this perfect world, there would be a perfect, contradiction-free and complete language in which everything would be clearly described. There would be enough resources to investigate all questions. Each individual would have enough time to comprehend all the knowledge gathered up to that point and to be able to add to it. Research would be a cooperation between the whole of society with the common goal of creating knowledge that is fully available to all interested parties. But the reality is unfortunately different.
With every glance, problems become visible, revealing new limits and challenges. The deeper we look into the world, the more we depend on the help of instruments. The more precisely we try to look, the more complex the world seems. In the process, we perceive the world in different ways and contradictions arise. Senses only give a distorted picture and even the language itself, in which we formulate what we see and think, is not absolutely exact and contains at least subjective parts. Approximations are necessary to work with the inaccuracies. Specific perspectives and views arise from our individual experiences, adventures and prior knowledge. These are not always clearly evident and compatible with each other. Experiences and preconceptions can colour neutral views.
When researchers communicate, they do so in a variety of ways: In direct exchanges at conferences or via publications, viewpoints are presented and one's own views are promoted. Even if communication takes place in precise and possibly highly formalised languages, perspectives, interpretive spaces and views remain open. The exchange is in a state of upheaval on the one hand, especially in recent years, due to the digitisation of information and Open Access, and on the other hand, due to patents and the commercialisation of academic journals. The privatisation of education influences content and accessibility to knowledge resources.
Social processes take place at many points in comparatively highly regulated and sober research. Social structures, such as review circles, are part of science and have their hurdles and cross-relationships and thus an influence on research. Reputation, power, gender or social background and position can be influencing factors. In order to be able to conduct research, resources are necessary. In the simplest case, these are the time to conduct the research and the financial resources to fund the necessary equipment. Funding is also organised through social processes. Institutions organise the distribution of funds with the help of review systems. Society and business exert an influence on the prioritisation of funding programmes through politics. In order to receive research funding, the necessity and feasibility must be presented to reviewers. But society must also legitimise research, insofar as funds are made available for it through state instruments or commercial products are acquired that exploit the products of research. This is where social processes come into play on an overall societal level. In addition to the actual research performance, science's reputation and social relevance are increasingly coming into focus. This complex of issues gives rise to a number of questions in relation to science. This paper deals with how researchers can generate and disseminate knowledge under which influencing factors.