PhD Candidate Katelin Albert on Research Funding in the Social Sciences

Katelin AlbertIn an article published in the Canadian Journal of Sociology, PhD Candidate Katelin Albert studies the impact of the shift in Canadian social science research funding from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR). Albert argues that the structure and distribution of CIHR funding allows it to define what is considered “legitimate health research” in the social sciences.

Katelin Albert is currently a PhD Candidate in Sociology at the University of Toronto and her research interests include medical and health sociology, gender, feminist and sociological theory, and knowledge production politics.

We have posted the citation and abstract of her article below. The full text is available online here.

Albert, Katelin. (2014). “Erasing the Social from Social Science: The Intellectual Costs of Boundary-Work and the Canadian Institute of Health Research.” Canadian Journal of Sociology (Online), 39(3):393-420.

In 2009, Canadian social science research funding underwent a transition. Social science health-research was shifted from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR), an agency previously dominated by natural and medical science. This paper examines the role of health-research funding structures in legitimizing and/or delimiting what counts as ‘good’ social science health research. Engaging Gieryn’s (1983) notion of ‘boundary-work’ and interviews with qualitative social science graduate students, it investigates how applicants developed proposals for CIHR. Findings show that despite claiming to be interdisciplinary, the practical mechanisms through which CIHR funding is distributed reinforce rigid boundaries of what counts as legitimate health research. These boundaries are reinforced by applicants who felt pressure to prioritize what they perceived was what funders wanted (accommodating natural-science research culture), resulting in erased, elided, and disguised social science theories and methods common for ‘good social science.’

Read the full article here.