Organizing intellectual enterprise: an institutional ethnography of social science and the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR)




Bowes, Katelin Elizabeth

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This research investigates the work involved for social science graduate students (SSGS) in their development of an application for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). Central to CIHR’s mandate is the desire to “excel according to internationally accepted standards of scientific excellence” (CIHR, 2010, p. 3) which frames its epistemological stance around a traditional conception of science. Social scientists utilize a wide range of methodologies and work from a variety of epistemological positions. Some use very traditional "scientifically accepted" methodologies, which are most often quantitative. However, many social scientists use a wide range of qualitative methods to produce knowledge. This project describes how SSGS learn to make a CIHR application, navigate the application process, and negotiate its content, as well as other activities involved. It discusses the double subordination they face from both their supervisors and CIHR as well as the difficulties and challenges they encountered when making the application. By interviewing graduate social scientists, and through a textual analysis of their CIHR applications, I examine how social science graduate students know and describe their experience of developing their social science research project into a CIHR grant application.



Sociology, Institutional Ethnography, CIHR, Social Science