Call for Papers: “Digital Academia. Investigating Science and Higher Education in the Digital Age” Special issue 2023 of the Swiss Journal of Sociology

Digital Transformation as a major issue in science and higher education

It is widely recognized among practitioners and social scientists that digital transformation presents a major change process for today’s society (cf. Schiølin 2020; Schwab 2018; Massen & Passoth 2020; Weyer 2019). Many observers argue that digital change is disrupting established product markets through “creative disruption”, altering valued skills in labor markets and goes along with the destruction of old job profiles and the creation of new knowledgeintensive occupations.

In view of these challenges and opportunities, actors from the economy and politics expect the university system to address these needs in research and teaching and to become themselves “modern”, for example more digitalized, organizational actors. Actors in science policy and research funding formulate specific expectations regarding the digital transformation of academia through strategies and priorities that are intended to guarantee competitiveness and adaptivity to the needs of labor markets (cf. European Economic and Social Committee 2019, SBFI 2020).

This relevance attributed to the university sector in digitalization is mirrored in the activities of higher education institutions as well as scientific disciplines (cf. Barton, Müller & Seel; 2019, Hassan 2017; Henke & Pasternack 2020; Mocquet 2017, Wannemacher 2016): Universities around the world declare digital transformation as a major strategic and operational issue (Getto & Kerres 2017; Prinsloo 2020), and we are currently witnessing the creation of new curricula and research fields such as data sciences (cf. Dorschel 2020; Saner 2019) or digital humanities (cf. Antonijević 2015), and of digital teaching platforms (cf. Williamson 2020). Additionally, we witness how digital technologies reconfigure key practices of academics in general: They cooperate with laymen in citizenscience projects via digital platforms (e.g. “galaxy zoo” or “fold it”), make scientific data and publications widely available (“open data”, “open science”, “open access”) and possibly evaluate each other more and more strongly via
“altmetrics” (cf. Franzen 2018; Franzoni & Sauerman 2013; Plantin, Lagoze & Edwards 2018). Furthermore, the institutional context that makes research possible namely university administrations is also adopting digital technologies, opening up new freedoms but also creating new restrictions.

The aim of the special issue: Insights into digital transformation in academia

Based on these observations, we aim to assemble contributions that analyze aspects of the digital transformation of science and higher education and give insights into the preconditions, processes and consequences of the uptake of the issue of digital transformation in science and higher education. We welcome conceptual contributions as well as empirical studies from sociology and related fields such as science and technology studies, organizational studies and educational studies. Additionally, we are also open to methodological contributions that discuss the potential of digital technologies as research tools in the social sciences in general and in science studies and higher education research in particular.

Please send an abstract of your contribution proposal to Luca Tratschin (, no later than November 15, 2021.

The guest editors will decide by December 1, 2021 which authors will be invited to submit a manuscript. The selected authors will be invited to submit a paper (of maximum 8’000 words or 50’000 characters including tables, graphs and references). The deadline for submission of a contribution is June 1, 2022. Contributions are subject to the usual review process of the Swiss Journal of Sociology. To promote consistency of the volume and international visibility, we ask that contributions be submitted in English only.


You can find the full CfP here: Call_SJS_49-3_Digital-Academia