Organisms in Experimental Research

  • Rachel A. AnkenyEmail author
  • Sabina Leonelli
Living reference work entry
Part of the Historiography of Science book series (HISTSC, volume 1)


Research on non-human organisms has been a major focus in the scholarship of historians of biology, especially over the past 25 years. This chapter identifies four overarching trends concerning historical scholarship on the use of non-human organisms for experimental purposes, paying attention both to its style and epistemic goals, and to the species and research locations that have been studied and documented. The first trend (1970s–1980s) focused on organisms as one of the many other components of epistemic cultures, the second (1990s) on organisms themselves as units of historical study, the third (late 1990s–2000s) on the organisms in relation to their experimental and institutional context, and the fourth (ongoing) on the diversification of methods and types of research under examination, including multispecies work and the study of practices in a wider range of biological subfields and across geographic locations.



Funding via the Australian Research Council Discovery Project (DP160102989) “Organisms and Us: How Living Things Help Us to Understand Our World” (2016–20)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.University of ExeterExeterUK

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