Levels of Description

Scientific groups and fields tend to be conservative in their explorations. So there is the tendency and a risk for groups and fields to continuously focus on minute details and subtleties rather than expanding research into new areas and interactions with other fields. How can we measure the temperature of a field? That is, given that any field or group is more or less likely to be conservative in their explorations, how can we measure a field’s latent ability to, in fact, expand and interact or react with other fields? What fraction of individuals in field have very high conformity? What fraction of institutions have high conformity? Answers to these questions will make it possible to Identify practices that foster innovation between academics and institutions. This in turn will allow us to intelligently ask how policy (whether internal, external, national, etc.) can support the implementation and adoption of such practices. By addressing these questions, we will further illuminate the way in which entrenched methodological conventions within fields influence innovation and discovery within those fields and beyond.