Theory & Science (2004)

ISSN: 1527-5558

From the new editor

This issue marks a new phase in a young journal�s life. Four years ago, in the fall of 2000, Timothy McGettigan launched Theory and Science and invited submissions from anyone with a truly inspired thought, regardless of scientific discipline. Over the past four years, the journal has published a remarkably wide spectrum of inspiring and thought-provoking pieces; Tim has done an outstanding job of keeping the journal alive, vibrant, and intellectually challenging.

It is this tradition that I hope to continue and strengthen as the new editor of Theory and Science. As theorists, academics and denizens, we need more outlets for new, challenging and radical ideas�and we need outlets that are less dependent upon the large media concerns that now dominate the academic publishing market. Electronic publishing in general, and Theory and Science in particular, offers great potential to fill these needs. It is my hope that we�the readers, contributors, and editors of Theory and Science�can work together to add a little more color, variation, and inspiration to the world of theory and science.

While Tim remains with us, now as Editor in Chief, I have taken over the day-to-day responsibilities of sifting through manuscripts, finding appropriate referees, nagging them to finish their duties, and making often-times difficult decisions about what to keep and what to return. This transition has taken longer than planned, and I apologize for the lengthy delay in publishing this first issue of volume 5.

The delay is, in part, a result of my difficulty in finding manuscripts that fit my personal vision of our journal�s future. I fear that my own background and network of personal contacts, as a political economist, has made it difficult for me to find appropriate reviewers for many of the submissions we receive from academics in the harder sciences. I, the editorial board at Theory and Science, and our network of colleagues simply do not have the academic competence to give these submissions the attention and feedback they deserve. Although I worry that our title may be somewhat misleading in this regard�as it attracts a much broader swath of scientific studies than we can possibly review, support or publish�I am hesitant to jettison a title and history that has proven so fruitful in the past.

Given my own limitations, I intend to steer Theory & Science toward more familiar waters: in the direction of more social science territory. This is not due to a lack of interest in the hard sciences, but out of practical concerns about our ability to evaluate properly the manuscript submissions we receive. With this new course in mind, I would like to encourage readers to submit manuscripts that challenge mainstream conceptions of the relationship between science, theory and the social world.

For example, I would love to see more submissions that consider the relationship between science, truth and democracy or questions related to the ontologies and epistemologies of science, especially social science. I believe that there is much good work left to be done in these areas, and I hope that we can use Theory and Science as a means to disseminate new and challenging ideas. Having said this, I will continue (of course) to embrace manuscripts that address a much broader spectrum of the social sciences. Indeed, I have been impressed by the breadth of submissions already received and sent out for review. We will remain on the lookout for new ideas and arguments.

As a young and growing journal, we are capable of thinking and acting differently. Should any of you have an interesting idea for a special issue, or a provocative idea that needs a venue, don�t hesitate to drop me an e-mail. I�m willing to consider just about anything for publication, as long as it is carefully reasoned and interesting. The joy of electronic publishing is the opportunity it provides us all to avoid the stale deadlock of the modern (print) publication industry. Let�s exploit this opportunity!

Likewise, I encourage readers to write letters, comments and critiques of articles already published in Theory and Science. An electronic journal like ours provides a wonderful venue for exchanging ideas and building understanding together. If you are inspired, challenged, or insulted (I truly hope not) by something we publish, we would love to hear from you.

Finally, I would like to extend my sincere appreciations to all the manuscript reviewers that have volunteered their time and energy over the past year. In the future I intend to publish an annual list of names as a way of thanking our referees for their contribution to our success.

Special Issue on Ethnomethodology

As if to emphasize my intent on using Theory and Science to do things differently, this issue offers a special look at the field of Ethnomethodology. The issue is special in that two of the three manuscripts were commissioned, not refereed. As this is not the usual way in which Theory and Science has proceeded in the past, it behooves me to describe briefly the history and intent behind Issue 1 of Volume 5.

When I received Alex Dennis�s manuscript last spring, I recognized an important argument and debate in the field of ethnomethodology�one that could benefit from exposure to a wider audience. I also realized that many of our readers may not be familiar with this debate, or the academic tradition from which it developed. For that reason, I began to work on a special issue on the topic. With the help of some wonderful referees, I began to think of how we could showcase Dennis�s article and introduce ethnomethodology to a larger audience of scientists. I began by contacting Michael Lynch from Cornell University, who graciously agreed to write a response to Dennis� critique. I then asked Wes Sharrock, from the University of Manchester, to provide the debate with a broader introduction to a more general readership. For those readers unfamiliar with the history of ethnomethodology, Wes Sharrock�s contribution offers a good place to start.

I hope you will find this special issue useful, fascinating and thought-provoking. I have surely learned much in the process of collecting these contributions. Together, these three articles encourage us to come to grips with an exciting and challenging debate about the epistemological foundations of our knowledge.

Jonathon W. Moses
Department of Sociology and Political Science
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)