This paper approaches scholarly communication with the perspective of social epistemology.
Being a field within information science, Scholarly communication traditionally contains several
For information specialists who are to guide through, structure and make
information and knowledge accessible, learning about the production, usage and communication
of knowledge and information is essential.
Coined by Egan & Shera in 1952, the term of Social epistemology has its roots in
library science. In those days, they argued that the focus of librarians and bibliographers was too
narrow, contained in a specific type of communication. They recognized that a holistic
understanding of communication was required for understanding specific practices of
communication. Instead of focusing on the epistemology of the individual, they advocated an
orientation towards social aspects. Therefore, they presented social epistemology as a field of
study focusing in on the production, distribution, and utilization of intellectual products. Today,
social epistemology has spread to an array of scholarly fields. In this paper it is applied in the
study of scholarly communication. The central task of this paper is to study in what ways social
epistemology can function as a framework within scholarly communication.
In the analysis three elements of scholarly communication is looked upon in an
orderly fashion: knowledge production, knowledge publication and knowledge dissemination.
Provided are examples displaying how each element can be studied with a set of theoretical
approaches: a system-oriented approach, a user-oriented approach and a social epistemological
This paper argues and concludes that information science will benefit from
utilizing a social epistemological approach in the study of scholarly communication. This
conclusion is drawn from the argument that social epistemology can contribute to making the
approach of information sciences towards scholarly communication more theoretically grounded
by acknowledging that there is no such thing as objective communication. The communication is
affected by the scholarly paradigm in which it takes place, and so is any empirical results
originating from the study of said communication.
- videnskabelig kommunikation, social epistemologi