Torres et al. do an interesting analysis:Significance
Contemporary social sciences aim to be diverse and inclusive, but traces of the historical dominance of Western European and North American academic institutions persist in scientific practices. One such practice is the phrasing of article titles. Our analysis shows that articles studying the global North are systematically less likely to mention the name of the country they study in their title compared to articles on the global South. This constitutes, potentially, an unwarranted claim on universality and may lead to lesser recognition of global South studies. Social and behavioral scientists must reflect on the phrasing of their article titles to avoid reproducing harmful relations of intellectual domination which limit inclusivity and constitute a barrier to the generalizability of scientific knowledge.Abstract
The legacy of Eurocentrism continues to affect knowledge production in the social sciences. Evidence produced in and about the global North is assumed to be more “universal,” whereas evidence from or produced in the global South is considered valid only for specific contexts (i.e., “localized”). We argue that these dynamics are evident in the phrasing of articles’ titles based on the examination of more than half a million social science research articles indexed by Scopus (1996 to 2020). We find that empirical articles written by authors affiliated to institutions of the global North, using data from these countries, are less likely to include a concrete geographical reference in their titles. When authors are affiliated to global South institutions, and use evidence from global South countries, the names of these countries are more likely to be part of the article’s title. We confirm this overarching pattern by looking at 1) differences between world regions, 2) differences within world regions, and 3) patterns in 23 social science subfields. These gaps are large and consistent, yet article naming conventions are merely the “tip of the iceberg” of the imbalances in knowledge production between the global North and South.
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