Call for Abstracts: Workshop “Forms and consequences of failure in science” (19-21 July 2023, Berlin), deadline January 31, 2023

– Call for Abstracts –
Forms and consequences of failure in science
Workshop on 19-21 July 2023, Berlin
Organized by Jochen Gläser, Michael Borggräfe, Tobias Lehmann (Technical University of Berlin)


This workshop is motivated by the observation of a disparity between a general appreciation of failure in science and its limited investigation by science studies. We invite researchers from all fields of science studies to discuss forms and consequences of failure in science, which we preliminarily define as a situation in which neither the aimed-for solution to a research problem nor any other relevant contribution to the scientific community’s knowledge could be produced. We are particularly interested in the following questions. How do researchers, research groups and scientific communities construct failure? How do they cope with situations of failure and their consequences?

We would suggest that by not studying failure in its own right, science studies miss an opportunity to advance our understanding of knowledge production in scientific communities. Failure disrupts individual and collective production processes and thus has the potential to expose taken-for-granted assumptions about how they work. Furthermore, scientific failure is increasingly relevant to the continuation of academic careers. Failure limits opportunities to publish and thus to gain visibility and reputation. This is likely to induce risk avoidance in the selection of problems and approaches to solving them, which in turn may slow down the progress of knowledge production. Studying career implications of failure can therefore lead to a better understanding of the processes by which the production and communication of contributions are linked to the development of researchers’ reputation and to the translation of this reputation into career advancement.

  • To advance studies of scientific failure, we invite contributions from all fields of science studies to our workshop. A non-exclusive list of issues includes the following questions:
  • How do researchers navigate epistemic uncertainties in their everyday research?
  • How do researchers, research groups and scientific communities construct their own or others’ failure?
  • What are the consequences of failure for the research of individuals, groups, and scientific communities?
  • How do evaluation systems impact the way in which individual researchers and scientific communities handle scientific failure and its consequences?


Important dates

  • Submission of abstract (500-750 words): 31 January 2023 by email to
  • Decision on acceptance: 10 February 2023
  • Submission of paper (min. 4000 words): 5 July 2023
  • Workshop: 19-21 July 2023


More information can be found here.