Advice from a Scientific Establishment: The National Academy of Sciences

  • Cynthia Hay
Part of the Sociology of the Sciences a Yearbook book series (SOSC, volume 6)


Much of the literature on scientific advice and on the National Academy of Sciences takes for granted that scientists have a contribution to make to policy (1). Critics of the Academy question its suitability for performing this role, but do not doubt that some such role is incumbent upon scientists. The characteristic ways in which the Academy proceeds in providing scientific advice have been described in some detail (2); this essay seeks to account for these features in the light of the analyses of scientific establishments developed elsewhere in this volume, in the essays by Elias, Whitley and Weingart (3). Many of the recognized features of scientific advice, which are displayed by the Academy, can be subsumed under and explained by the theory of scientific establishments.


Scientific Establishment Dietary Cholesterol Science Policy American Scientist Scientific Elite 
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  1. Nathan Reingold, ‘Definitions and Speculations: the Professionalization of Science in America in the Nineteenth Century’, in A. Oleson and S. C. Brown (eds.), The Pursuit of Knowledge in the Early American Republic, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1976, pp. 33–69.Google Scholar
  2. Daniel J. Kevles, The Physicists: the History of a Scientific Community in Modern America, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978, pp. 41–4.Google Scholar
  3. Ronald Brickman and Arie Rip, ‘Science Policy Advisory Councils in France, the Netherlands and the United States, 1955–77: A Comparative Analysis’, Social Studies of Science 9 (1957) 167–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Zhores A. Medevedev, Soviet Science, Oxford University Press: 1979, pp. 72–3, 108.Google Scholar
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    T. Dixon Long, ‘Policy and Politics in Japanese Science: The Persistence of a Tradition’, Minerva 7 (1969) 426–53; T. Dixon Long, ‘The Dynamics of Japanese Science Policy’, in T. D. Long and C. Wright (eds.), Science Policies of Industrial Nations, New York, Praeger, 1975, pp. 133–68.Google Scholar
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    Daniel Greeberg, “The National Academy of Sciences: Profile of an Institution (I)” Science 156 (1967) 222–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Philip Boffey, ‘National Academy of Sciences: How Elite Choose their Peers’ Science 196 (1977) 738–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    J. J. Salomon, Science and Politics, London: MacMillan, 1973.Google Scholar
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    Alvin Weinberg, ‘Science and Trans-Science’, Minerva 10 (1972) 209–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Don Price, ‘Money and Influence: the Links of Science to Public Policy’, Daedalus 103 (1974) 97–114.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cynthia Hay
    • 1
  1. 1.Brunel UniversityUxbridgeUK

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