About MethodExperimenters, Snake Venom, and the History of Writing Scientifically

About MethodExperimenters, Snake Venom, and the History of Writing Scientifically

Jutta Schickore

Print publication date: 2018

ISBN: 9780226449982

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

About Method: Experimenters, Snake Venom, and the History of Writing Scientifically is a long-term history of scientists’ methodological discussions about experimentation in the life sciences. It directs attention to working scientists’ methods discourse, its history and meanings, and its functions in scientific publications. The term “methods discourse” comprises all kinds of methods-related statements in scientific writing, including explicit commitments to experimentalism, descriptions of protocols, and justifications of methodological concepts and strategies. The book examines the complex trajectory of methods discourse from the mid-17th to the early 20th century through the history of snake venom research. Because experiments with poisonous snakes were both challenging and controversial, experimenters produced very detailed descriptions and discussions of their approaches, making venom research uniquely suitable for a long-term history of methodological thought and the various factors impinging on its development. The book offers an analytic framework for the study of methods discourse, its history, and the history of how experimenters organized and presented their thoughts about methods in writings about their experiments.