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Research on research and some problems of research bureaucracy

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The paper deals in its first part critically with the “ideo-centric” interpretation of the subject matter of the sociology of science. Especially American sociologists tend to regard sociology of science as apart of the sociology of knowledge, specialized in defining the nature of scientificideas and their relations to other kinds of ideas, institutional and personality factors, etc. However, in our days the center of gravity of sociological studies on science has shifted more and more outward of the domain of the sociology of knowledge.Research on research, particularly research on the objective socio-economic, organizational and operational aspects of institutionalized and professionalized research activity, have become very central to the sociology of science and have made probably some of the greatest contributions to its recent development. The material demands of society on science, and vice versa, the investiment of society in the scientific establishment, the bread-and-board questions of research activity, the hard realities of national and industrial research policies, etc., provide a vastterra incognita into which the contemporary sociology of science must foray. The second part of the present paper deals with the delineation of a stretch of the “unknown land” that has remained hitherto largely unexplored by the sociology of science, namely with the structure and the functions of contemporaryresearch bureaucracy. Some findings of a Hungarian empirical study are discussed which seem to indicate that “big science” tends to go hand in hand with big research bureaucracy, in particular with an increased share of administrative personnel in the total staff on research institutions.

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Notes and references

  1. B. BARBER, The Sociology of Science, in:International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, New York; 1968. Vol. 14. p. 92.

  2. BARBER,loc. cit.B. BARBER, The Sociology of Science, in:International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, New York; 1968. Vol. 14. p. 92.

  3. J. D. BERNAL,The Social Function of Science, London, 1939.

  4. B. BUSH,Science: The Endless Frontier, Washington, D.C.; 1945.

  5. I have discussed this and other problems of the R & D concept and of current R & D statistics in much detail in my book,Az ipari kutatás tervezése és szervezése, Veszprém, 1964. An English translation of this book has been brought out by the National Science Foundation: S. SZALAI,Planning and Organizing Industrial Research, Washington, D.C.: 1967, NSF TT 67-58003 (mimeographed).

  6. We cannot dwell here on the partly very different structure of professional research administration encountered in industrial firms having research sections built into their productive apparatus, in establishments performing research only as a sideline to other duties, in foundations rendering financial support to research, etc. Some of our considerations may apply however.

  7. Research Institutes, Institutions and Enterprises of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, 1975.

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Szalai, A. Research on research and some problems of research bureaucracy. Scientometrics 1, 247–260 (1979).

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