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International Doctoral Summer School | 5-9 Sept. 2016    Vienna (Austria)


"Opening the Black Box of Quality: Reflecting on Scholarly Practice in the Social Sciences and Humanities"


5-9 September 2016

Welcome & drinks: Sun 4 Sept., from 6pm. Departure: Sat 10 Sept.

Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt/Wien/Graz (AAU), Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies
Department of Science Communication and Higher Education Research 
Schottenfeldgasse 29, 1070 Vienna, Austria


Sponsoring Institution

WWTF – Wiener Wissenschafts-, Forschungs- und Technologiefonds, Austria
Vienna Summer Schools in the Social Sciences and Humanities – Call 2016


Theme, Format, and Aim

Reflecting on and assessing the quality of scientific work is part and parcel of scholarly practice – whether in various work situations or the different stages of an academic career. As scholars, we judge the quality of a book that has recently been published; as teachers, we give advice to students on how to improve the quality of their projects and term papers; as doctoral students, we assess the quality of related work to position ourselves in a particular field of expertise; and, not least importantly, we constantly reflect on our own work in terms of implicit and often informal standards of quality that govern our working practices and the formation of our academic selves.


At the Summer School, doctoral students and early postdocs from different fields of the social sciences and humanities will explore practices of attributing, contesting, and negotiating quality in scholarly work. The participants will be invited to critically reflect upon such practices, and how these relate to quantitative measures of academic performance. In lectures and through engagement with literature (provided in advance), they will be introduced to the relevant concepts and approaches and to different formal procedures of assessing the quality of scientific work. Drawing on their own research, the participants will jointly think through quality standards, and how they vary across disciplinary cultures. Their attention will be directed to instances in which quality is attributed, contested, and negotiated in their own writing and reading practices. In critically reflecting on these practices, they will collectively tackle the question of what constitutes a ‘good’ PhD thesis. Thus, the aim of this Summer School is, broadly speaking, to open up the black box of quality in SSH scholarship.


Michael Guggenheim: Sociology & STS, Goldsmiths, University of London
Karin Harrasser: Cultural theory, University of Art and Design Linz
Stefan Hirschauer: Sociology, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
Sharon McCulloch: Linguistics and English language, Lancaster University


Barbara Grimpe: Cultural studies & STS, AAU, Vienna
Martina Merz: STS & qualitative social research, AAU, Vienna



Doctoral students and junior postdocs from the broad spectrum of social sciences and humanities with a general interest in the topic as well as those having a substantial research interest in the theme (e.g. from within perspectives of STS, higher education studies). Participants are welcome to present their research in a poster session.



4 ECTS for successful completion of the Summer School   

Contact & Info  

Organizer: Martina Merz (
Administrator: Silvia Edtinger (



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