How to select Art-Sci through Peer Review

Issue: How to put together traditional peer review or selection committees to evaluate and rank Art Science Proposals

In the discussions so far, an issue has come up repeatedly of the problem of how to “select for funding’ art science proposals

Typically panels are composed of experts who have established their pre-eminence in given discipline and not in art-science. Resulting ranking of proposals are often ‘drive to the median’ exercises where the most risky/promising proposals do not emerge from peer review.

How to select art science proposals for funding ?

Here is a comment from Leonardo Journal Co Editor Sheila Pinkel to start this discussion:

Sheila wrote:
“Roger, as you well know I am committed to the expansion of art/science dialogue and would love to participate, both in terms of how to expand educational opportunities which facilitate art/science explorations and opportunities for artists and scientists to work together. I also think that placing artists on panels charged with the mandate of problem solving will creatively expand the dialogue on that panel. Helen and Newton Harrison have been functioning in this way on problem solving panels for years.”

Sheila wrote:
“Roger, as you well know I am committed to the expansion of art/science dialogue and would love to participate, both in terms of how to expand educational opportunities which facilitate art/science explorations and opportunities for artists and scientists to work together. I also think that placing artists on panels charged with the mandate of problem solving will creatively expand the dialogue on that panel. Helen and Newton Harrison have been functioning in this way on problem solving panels for years.”

We have run into the same problem on the IMERA (www.imera.fr) art science residency program in Marseille. Our Proposal Pre Selection committee consists of 20 excellent people ( lawyers to biologists to astronomers to artists to humanities scholars)= but few of them have led art-science projects. The primary selection criteria for the proposals is that the scientist wants to work with an artist or vice versa= but often the disciplinary expert on the panel shoots down the proposal because it is ‘weak science” in that discipline

Roger

4 Comments

  1. It would seem that the argument for ‘weak science’ is actually double entente in so far that we can also speak of ‘weak art’. At this juncture, when ART SCI collaborations are hardly the norm, sometime results seemingly tend to diminished effects. This should not be a prescription for ART SCI collaboration to proceed at half throttle. True, not every collaboration should be funded, but the goal of ART SCI is an eventual unification integration; we can all agree that both sides have much to gain in the ART SCI mix. So any of these collaborations really have much to offer the individual participants in the short term. Then upon returning to their perspective and protected hives, that further discussion can only enhance a merger of individual disciplines, not to mention discovery and innovation. More projects need to be commissioned if only because of our inherent sense of inquiry and progression.

  2. Drew

    thanks for your comment

    Yes- we would like to see a proliferation of art science projects of various types, but i want to challenge your assertion that:

    but the goal of ART SCI is an eventual unification integration

    I am not sure at all that this the goal, or should be the goal.
    I am not a big believer in the ‘third culture’ argument. I think there are really good reasons to develop focused disciplines= but that on some problems we have no choice but to combine forces – this is sometimes called the ‘water problem’- if you take an issue like climate change- it clearly bridges the sciences, arts and humanities ( and then into the political and social spheres) for this problem we have no choice but to proliferate art-science projects of various types

    roger malina

  3. from robert root bernstein
    Yes, I learned these lessons the hard way. I was one of three people asked
    >> to put together the criteria to be used to choose the NIH Director’s Pioneer
    >> Awards — grants for very high risk, pioneering work that would never be
    >> fundable under normal grant procedures. The three of us worked very hard to
    >> make good criteria only to find that the reviewers chosen by the
    >> NIH Director were the typical Harvard/CalTech types who only valued what
    >> they could already do. So they ignored the criteria. I’m worried about that
    >> in this case as well. How do we recognize which “babies” have the potential
    >> to change the world and which are just going to be “sheep” and follow the
    >> herd? My feeling is that it takes one to recognize one, so only those of us
    >> who have been pushing boundaries and melding disciplines have the expertise
    >> to evaluate other people’s “babies”. And that obviously includes artists
    >> who have been moving into science and technology arenas. I don’t understand
    >> why we don’t value autodidacticism — most of what anyone learns that is of
    >> value is what they teach themselves…. But so many people only see degrees:
    >> this one I know, too, from personal experience: my Ph. D. is in History of
    >> Science. SOme of my science colleagues still can’t accept that 30 years
    >> later, despite all my publications, having run a lab this whole time, etc.
    >> Ah well…

  4. Dear all,

    being a scientist and artist by training and working now on interdisciplinary projects on Enhancing people’s lives, I would like to contribute in some way to this discussion.
    For the moment I just can experience tension and see a new arising field of interdisciplinarity, still very fragile, with non defined borders opening very sensitive issues.

    All the best,
    Vesna Milanovic Molecular biologist and Dance scholar