skip to main content

Bending Genres at ESTS

Katie Vann and Daniel Lee Kleinman

11 July, 2016

Is it possible for scholars to publish work that critically considers a pressing contemporary problem and offers a kind of extended op-ed in which an STS analytical lens informs the commentary? Is it possible for scholars to publish compact work that crystalizes an innovative critical concept of potential use in the analysis of STS-related issues? Yes! At 4S’s new open access journal, Engaging Science, Technology, and Society, we are experimenting with the possibilities. We offer two new genres of peer-reviewed scholarly work––Critical Engagements and Considering Concepts––that allow scholars to speak to STS issues and audiences in new ways.

Critical Engagements are a hybrid genre that provide authors an opportunity to write concise, jargon-light opinion pieces that readers might expect from more conventional journalistic outlets, but also ask authors to provide the kind of disciplined, critically informed analysis that readers expect from conventional STS research papers. In shaping this genre, we were inspired by two pieces, “Honeybees Under Threat,” by ESTS Editor Daniel Lee Kleinman & Sainath Suryanarayanan, and “Can an Algorithm be Wrong?,” by ESTS Editorial Board Member Tarleton Gillespie. To date, ESTS has published two Critical Engagements (see Kennedy 2015; Phadke 2015). Writing this kind of work is a delicate balance that requires deep knowledge of STS and a willingness to make normative views explicit. We hope that both writers and readers will see the value in this kind of work and be intrigued to try their hand.                

The Considering Concepts genre offers an opportunity for scholars to communicate with the STS community around conceptual innovations with which they are playing in their work. This offering is meant to create a peer-reviewed alternative to a conventional research paper in which a conceptual innovation would need to be embedded in an expansive empirical and theoretical exposition. These pieces are intended to be shorter in length; yet they should not skimp on rigor: the skill of a considering concept writer is to crystalize the meaning and value of a theoretical construct while elucidating an example of its empirical grounding and/or relevance in a highly economical manner. We have already published three Considering Concepts essays that we think constitute excellent examples of what we are proposing (see Taylor-Alexander 2015; Jensen and Morita 2015; Gad and Jensen 2016).         

Interested scholars should refer to the genre descriptions in the Focus and Scope section of the ESTS website for more details. We are also happy to discuss your ideas with you. We look forward to reading your work.


Katie Vann is the Managing Editor and Daniel Lee Kleinman is the Editor of Engaging Science, Technology, and Society, a new journal published by the Society for Social Studies of Science.

Backchannels / Projects

Descriptions of current work—the makings and doings—of STS scholars across the globe. This includes individual work, as well as collaborations between / with academics, practitioners, and policy makers.