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Division of Labor

Research groups divide the kind of labor that it takes to create scientific knowledge among their members—cognitive labor, but also the manual labor of experimental practice and the social effort that it takes for a group member to interact. But how do groups divide labor? And hence, what does an epistemological approach to the division of labor in groups need to take into account? To answer these two questions, I begin by revisiting social epistemology’s existing discussion about the division of labor in science, a discussion primarily focused on scientific peer communities (Sect. 6.1). Thereafter, I examine the division of labor in the two research groups I have studied, the planetary science group (Sect. 6.2) and the molecular biology laboratory (Sect. 6.3), providing a comparison in Sect. 6.4. Based on these two cases, I will argue in Sect. 6.5 that an account of the division of labor in research groups has to differ from existing community-focused accounts in four crucial respects in which there is a need to: (i) focus on within-group differences in expertise; (ii) consider both processes of differentiation and convergence; (iii) shift attention from competition to collaboration; and (iv) consider scientific knowledge in-the-making long before formal peer reviewing takes effect.

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016 S. Wagenknecht, A Social Epistemology of Research Groups, New Directions in the Philosophy of Science,

DOI 10.1057/978-1-137-52410-2_6

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