Lugano, Switzerland

Argumenting Science

when 23 August 2021 - 27 August 2021
language English
duration 1 week
fee CHF 700

This workshop aims to provide PhD student and young researchers with a deeper understanding of how novel ideas in science are communicated to peers in order to convince them of their validity. The workshop has both a theoretical orientation – i.e. better understanding communication practices within science – and a practical goal, i.e. helping prospective researchers to devise suitable argumentative strategies in order to defend their ideas.

The course will build on two main pillars. On the one hand, an understanding of science as a community of practice, where scholars discuss their ideas in front of peers and engage in discussions about their validity, whose outcome determines whether these ideas are included as part of the accepted realm of knowledge. In such a perspective, activities such as presenting at conferences, writing scientific articles, submitting grant proposals are central to the development of science, as well as to the career of individual researchers. Scientific communication takes place largely through texts, which obey to specific literary conventions, but are also constructed in order to convince the reader and to refute objections using elements such as past authority (citations), logical argumentation, data, statistical analyses etc.

On the other hand, the course will be build on theories of human communication, which extensively analyzed how argumentation can be used effectively to bring interlocutors, such as other scientists, to your side through strategic maneuvering. These theories lead to an understanding of scientific communication as a critical discussion, in which scientists advance and defend their ideas by respective a code of conduct that, for example, obliges them to take seriously the objection of peers and to respond through new valid arguments. In such a perspective, researchers are highly strategic in engaging in scientific debates and pursue multiple objectives, such as improving their work, getting their ideas accepted and enhancing the status in scientific communities. Conceptualizing scientific communication in these terms will help students to better understand how to manage their communication activities and how to avoid mistakes that might lead to a refusal of their ideas or results or to jeopardize their position within the community.

The workshop will be organized in face-to-face lectures and in practical exercises, in which students will analyze scientific texts for their argumentative content and simulate scientific debates playing both the proponent and opponent role. It will focus in this respect on two major forms of scientific communication, i.e. the scientific paper and the grant proposal.

Workshop contents

Part 1. Science as an argumentative practice

Communities of practice and the scientific truth.

Genres of scientific communication.

Critical discussions in science.

Argumentation and strategic maneuvering.

How to engage in scientific debates: tips and tricks.

Part 2. The writing of scientific papers

The literary genre of the scientific paper.

Scientific papers as argumentative documents: defending your truth.

Disciplinary differences and discipline-specific arguments.

How to write effective papers: tips and tricks.

Part 3. Grant proposal writing

Grant proposal writing as a dialogue with funding agencies and peers.

Telling a convincing story: levels of strategic manoeuvring.

A core tension: embedding in a community vs identity.

The art of getting funded: tips and tricks.

Course leader

Benedetto Lepori and Andrea Rocci, Università della Svizzera italiana

Target group

Everyone who is interested; there are no formal requirement. Note that many workshops have some prerequisites.

The Summer School workshops are conceived for those who need to deepen and widen their methodological knowledge and skills for their work, research projects and (PhD) theses: students, junior and senior researchers, practitioners from academia and outside academia at any stage of their careers whenever the need for further training in methodology arises.

Course aim

This workshop aims to provide PhD student and young researchers with a deeper understanding of how novel ideas in science are communicated to peers in order to convince them of their validity. The workshop has both a theoretical orientation – i.e. better understanding communication practices within science – and a practical goal, i.e. helping prospective researchers to devise suitable argumentative strategies in order to defend their ideas.

Credits info

The Summer School cannot grant credits. We only deliver a Certificate of attendance, i.e. we certify your presence

If you consider using Summer School workshops to obtain credits (ECTS), you will have to investigate at your home institution (contact the person/institute responsible for your degree) to find out whether they recognize the Summer School, how many credits can be earned from a workshop/course with roughly 35 hours of teaching, no graded work, and no exams.

Make sure to investigate this matter before registering, if this is important to you.

Fee info

CHF 700: Reduced fee: 700 Swiss Francs per weekly workshop for students (requires proof of student status).
These fees includes also participation in one of the preliminary workshops (two-day workshop preceding the Summer School).
To qualify for the reduced fee, you are required to send a copy of an official document that certifies your current student status or a letter from your supervisor stating your actual position as a doctoral or postdoctoral student. Send this letter/document by e-mail to methodssummerschool@usi.ch.
CHF 1100: Normal fee: 1100 Swiss Francs per weekly workshop for all others.
These fees includes also participation in one of the preliminary workshops (two-day workshop preceding the Summer School).

Scholarships

As the Summer School is financed through participant’s fees alone and has no funds of its own, it cannot offer any scholarship, grants or financial aid.