Robert Evans
Studies of Expertise and Experience

The idea of Studies in Expertise and Experience (SEE) was first proposed in the Third Wave of Science Studies paper co-authored with Harry Collins and published in Social Studies of Science in 2002. The paper, which is one of the most cited in the journal’s history, set out an initial typology of expertise that has now been developed into the ‘Periodic Table of Exeprtises’ described in Rethinking Expertise, (2007, The University of Chicago Press).

More recent work has focussed on three aspects of this approach

For more information, follow us at or visit the ALL @ SEE website, which has links to publications, a glossary of terms and archive of past SEESHOP meetings.

Expertise - key ideas

The key idea behind our theory is that, since knowledge is the property of social groups, then expertise is the product of successful socialisation within a group or 'form of life'. In this way, we can say that expertise is both real -- one has either been socialised into a group or not -- and social at the same time.

Using this idea we have begun to think about how much socialisation is needed to become fully socialised and what sort of knoweldge or expertise results from just a little bit of socialisation. The two most significant distinctions we have made as a result of this work are:

Combining the two dimensions of expertise, together with more standard distinctions tacit and explicit knowledge, has enabled us to produce a detailed classification of the different types of expertise and the kinds of contributions they give rise to. An extended version of this classification is available from the Expertise Website.

Expertise - Main Publications

The work on expertise has now given rise to several publications. The most important of these are listed below, though there is also a separate page for the original "Third Wave" paper:

Collins, H.M. and Evans, R.J. (2013) ‘Quantifying the Tacit: The Imitation Game and Social Fluency’, Sociology, <Published as Online First on 25 Feb 2013;>

Evans, R.J. (2011) ‘Collective Epistemology: The Intersection of Group Membership and Expertise’, in Hans Bernhard Schmid, Daniel Sirtes and Marcel Weber (Eds) Collective Epistemology, Heusenstamm: Ontos Verlag. Pp. 177-202.

Collins, H.M., Weinel, M. and Evans, R.J. (2010) ‘The Politics and Policy of the Third Wave: New Technologies and Society’, Critical Policy Studies, Vol. 4, No. 2, pp. 185-201. <>

Collins, H M and Evans, RJ (2007) Rethinking Expertise, Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press. Click here for some reviews

Evans, R J and Collins, H M (2007) ‘Expertise: From Attribute to Attribution and Back Again,’ in Edward J Hackett, Olga Amsterdamska, Michael Lynch and Judy Wajcman (eds) Handbook of Science and Technology Studies (3rd edition), Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Pp. 609-30.

Evans, R J and Plows, A (2007) ‘Listening Without Prejudice? Re-Discovering the Value of the Disinterested Citizen’, Social Studies of Science, 37(6): 827-854. <>

Collins, H M and Evans, R J (2002) ‘The Third Wave of Science Studies: Studies of Expertise and Experience’, Social Studies of Sciences, 32 (2): 235-96. <> Also, reprinted in Evan Selinger and Robert P. Crease (eds) (2006) The Philosophy of Expertise, New York: Columbia University Press. Pp. 39-110.

Links to other publications can be found on the Expertise Website.

Last updated on 2013-11-25

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