Research Projects

Our department currently supports the following research projects:

Conscientious Computing 

Funded by the Mozilla Foundation

The proliferation of digital technologies around the world has brought with it unprecedented entanglements between technical possibilities and ethical concerns. From the troubling gender politics of the computing industry to the embedded racial biases that plague social media algorithms, these entanglements simultaneously reveal and reinforce the structural inequalities of the world around us Humanists and social scientists at UC Davis have developed robust research agendas that address many of these issues, but the university has not yet drawn on its established strengths in these areas to train computing professionals who are able to identify, understand, and perhaps even correct these issues from within their technical and industrial settings.

The Science and Technology Studies Program and the Computer Science Department jointly propose the development of a new curriculum in digital ethics at UC Davis. We will develop new courses on the ethics of information technologies aimed primarily, but not exclusively, at computer science and computer engineering majors. These courses will be part of a new minor and major in what we are calling “Conscientious Computing.” A 2017 grant from the UC Davis Humanities Institute allowed us to start developing the curriculum. A six-figure grant from the Mozilla Foundation is allowing us to incorporate the social sciences and humanities into the technical training that students in computer science and engineering are receiving during the 2019-2020 academic year. Prof. Con Diaz is Co-PI in the project.

Innovating Communication in Scholarship (ICIS)

Scholarly communication has entered a period of profound transformation. Changes to traditional systems of research publication, academic credit, research quality assessment, and even the meaning of “publication” foretell implications for scientists and scholars across all fields and levels as well as for the role of the university more generally. For instance, administrators rely on scholarly communication to make decisions about merit and funding. In addition, libraries must constantly keep pace with changes in the proliferating forms of scholarly communication and the technological means of delivering them.

With the support of a three-year Interdisciplinary Frontiers in the Humanities & Arts Award from UC Davis, Innovating Communication in Scholarship (ICSIS) analyzes crucial changes shaping the future of scholarly communication. The team is directed by a cross-disciplinary cluster of faculty including Mario Biagioli (Science & Technology Studies, Law, and History); Jonathan Eisen (Genome Center, Medical Microbiology, and Evolution & Ecology) and MacKenzie Smith (University Library), in collaboration with Colin Milburn (English/STS), Madhavi Sunder (Law), Jim Griesemer (Philosophy/STS), Andrew Hargadon (Graduate School of Management), Anupam Chander (Law), Andy Jones (University Writing Program/IET) and Bertram Ludaescher (Computer Science).  Three postdoctoral fellows will be associated with the project.  Allison Fish (Phd, UC Irvine, Anthropology) will join us starting January 1, 2014.

The project engages with the following interrelated topics: the increasing scale and interdisciplinarity of collaborations; the growing reliance on cyberinfrastructure for producing and disseminating research; the impact of Open Access models and economic dysfunction on traditional publishing; the transformation of data from evidence for research results to research output itself; new metrics of impact; new forms of misconduct and detection; doubts about peer review as quality guarantor; and the role of intellectual property on the content and timing of publications.  The research will cluster will cluster around three sets of issues emblematic of these changes: 1) “New Models of Scholarly Communication”; 2) “New Misconduct and New Opportunities”, and 3) “Communicating with Data.”

An inaugural conference will take place on February 13-14, 2014: "Publish or perish? The future of academic publishing and careers.” Major themes will include the Changing Nature of the Journal, Peer Review, Beyond Manuscripts, and Alternative Metrics and Evaluation Procedures.

Yochai Benkler (Harvard Law) will deliver the keynote on "Open Access, Cooperation, and Commons: The (Uncertain) Retreat of Possessive Individualism in Networked Society"