Scientific publications as boundary objects: theorising the intersection of classification and research evaluation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Introduction. When using bibliometrics for research evaluation, the classification of research fields is an issue of great importance. The purpose of this paper is to outline a brief theoretical framework for analysing the role of classification in research evaluation practices.
Theory. Taking departure in the concept of ‘boundary objects’ we develop a theoretical framework for analyses of how scientific publications negotiate between different social worlds. Moreover, by adding the perspective of large evaluative infrastructures our study seeks to highlight tensions between local practices and global standards.
Empirical example. One scientific article was analysed in terms of the different ways it can be classified on author and affiliation levels, on a documental level, and on a bureaucratic level. Discussion. Publications are boundary objects residing between social worlds: the context of communication and the context of evaluation. Tensions between social worlds become apparent in infrastructures, which aims to serve the demands both of communication and of evaluation.


External organisations
  • University of Borås
  • Linnaeus University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Information Studies
Original languageEnglish
Article numberCoLIS paper 1623
JournalInformation Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Publication categoryResearch

Related projects

Fredrik Åström & Björn Hammarfelt

The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation: Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Science Research


Project: ResearchNational collaboration

View all (1)