Trusting results – An exploration of physicists’ appraisal of their own and others’ research
Paper in proceedings, 2005
The research aspect of being a scholar in physics does not only include producing solid research results,
ready for archiving in the physics literature, but involves a rich interplay with peers, colleagues, and the
research community. This article focuses on a prominent part of that interplay, namely on how
researchers in condensed matter physics appraise the trustworthiness of their and others' research results.
Through an analysis of the ways physicists speak of trust in interviews, informed by phenomenography,
four different aspects of the complex phenomenon of appraising trustworthiness are brought out, in which
dimensions of variation are identified and explored. The four different aspects are encapsulated in four
questions to be put to the data: 1) What is it that is spoken of as being appraised when discussing trust? 2)
What is the context in which the object under consideration is appraised? 3) How is appraising trust
anchored in trustworthy elements and what is their nature? 4) What is spoken of as characterizing the
quality of the process of establishing trust? The variation in these four aspects together portrays the
educational dimension of what it means to appraise physics research. These results further the
understanding of the ground for the collaboration, peer review and communication in the research
community, and portray part of what it means to be a scholar in the research capacity.