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Narrative Ordering and Explanation in the Sciences: Historical Investigations and Perspectives

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






Project "NARRATIVENSCIENCE" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
address: Houghton Street 1
city: LONDON
postcode: WC2A 2AE

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country United Kingdom [UK]
 Project website
 Total cost 1˙992˙442 €
 EC max contribution 1˙992˙442 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2015-AdG
 Funding Scheme ERC-ADG
 Starting year 2016
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2016-10-01   to  2020-09-30


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 


 Project objective

The aim of this project is to understand the role of narrative in modern science. Narratives have appeared in many places in the human, social and natural sciences over the past two centuries. They can be found both in accounts of real situations and in simulations of virtual situations, in empirical work and in theorizing. It is clear that narratives have played important roles for scientists well beyond the simple act of reporting. Yet we lack an account of what kinds of thing scientists know from using narrative and how such ‘narrative knowing’ is constituted. Indeed, with the notable exceptions of medicine and evolutionary biology, even the study of those field narratives, as narratives, has been largely ignored by both historians of science and narrative scholars. What do scientists gain from using narratives, what functions do narratives play? Initial research shows that scientists have used narratives to figure out what fits together with what, and to create coherence amongst the elements in their research. But the means of such ordering vary - from site to site, and from science to science. Narratives used to explore a path dependent system in nineteenth century biology used a different mode of ordering both from the configuring narratives of mid-twentieth century case studies in sociology, and from the ‘how possibly’ narratives of modern computer-based simulations. Such variety requires a broad project, using many case studies to explore the critical role that scientists’ narratives have played in modern science. Making sense of such variety offers an ambitious challenge. But while there is surely no simple answer to why scientists use narratives, all these notions of narrative ordering do have something in common. They suggest that narratives function not just to describe and report as one might expect, they play a much more important role in answering scientists’s own questions and so - in various ways - in providing scientific explanations.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2018 Dominic J. Berry
David P. D. Munns, Engineering the Environment: Phytotrons and the Quest for Climate Control in the Cold War (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017), 360 pp., 38 b&w illus., $49.95 Hardcover, ISBN 9780822944744
published pages: , ISSN: 0022-5010, DOI: 10.1007/s10739-018-9547-6
Journal of the History of Biology 2019-10-09
2017 Mary S. Morgan, M. Norton Wise
Narrative science and narrative knowing. Introduction to special issue on narrative science
published pages: 1-5, ISSN: 0039-3681, DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsa.2017.03.005
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 62 2019-10-09
2018 Robert Meunier
Project knowledge and its resituation in the design of research projects: Seymour Benzer\'s behavioral genetics, 1965-1974
published pages: , ISSN: 0039-3681, DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsa.2018.04.001
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 2019-10-09
2018 Dominic J. Berry
Synthesis and the organism: biology, chemistry, and engineering
published pages: , ISSN: , DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.17137.74088
2018 Robert Meunier, Kärin Nickelsen
New perspectives in the history of twentieth-century life sciences: historical, historiographical and epistemological themes
published pages: , ISSN: 0391-9714, DOI: 10.1007/s40656-018-0184-3
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 40/1 2019-10-09
2017 Mary S. Morgan
Narrative ordering and explanation
published pages: 86-97, ISSN: 0039-3681, DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsa.2017.03.006
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 62 2019-06-13

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