Social science theorists have long envisioned how social scientists could organize so that the knowledge borne from our work might contribute to the improvement of both science and society (Campbell, 1971; Cronbach, 1982). Such aspiration requires that researchers understand what their forefathers did before them and with what results so that we may incrementally improve (Merton, 1965). In the health promotion field, progress in this direction has occurred, for example, through the production of consensus statements about standards of evidence (Flay et al., 2005).
Alas, the challenge of learning incrementally and cumulatively from others’ work is daunting. Not only are we limited in terms of how much each of us can know (Simon, 1955), but the expansion of scientific knowledge continues unabated. We publish our results in more journals than ever before and increasingly cite others’ work that appears in new and far flung journals (Acharya et al., 2014). If modern society can be thought of as an information processor, then it is at present an increasingly decentralized one.
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