The Molecular Biology Laboratory

They all came to my lab, because they sort of respect what we do and what we can do for them.

Johan, group leader, interview, group2

Drawing on professional contacts that my supervisor happened to have, I began extending my fieldwork to a second research group—a research laboratory in the field of molecular biology that differs from the planetary science group in its mono-disciplinary orientation, its hierarchical structure and its size. The molecular biology laboratory is led by Johan, an internationally accomplished expert in the field; and it comprises about 35 people, most of whom are graduate students and post-graduate researchers who have spent only a couple of years in the group, collaborating with fellow group members, broadening their knowledge of experimental techniques and trying to make a name for themselves with high-ranking publications. Many of them see the laboratory, and the research collaboration it facilitates, as a springboard to an academic career.

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016 S. Wagenknecht, A Social Epistemology of Research Groups, New Directions in the Philosophy of Science,

DOI 10.1057/978-1-137-52410-2_5

To introduce the molecular biology laboratory, Sect. 5.1 describes the group’s weekly meetings where my empirical investigations, again, began. Section 5.2 provides a comprehensive characterization of the molecular biology laboratory and the collaborative scientific practice it facilitates. Section 5.3, finally, presents two of the interviews I have conducted with group members to offer a more nuanced view of the group from individual perspectives.

 
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