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Professor Robert Evans

Professor Robert Evans


School of Social Sciences

+44(0) 29 2087 4034
+44 (0)29 2087 4175
2.19, Glamorgan Building
Media commentator
Available for postgraduate supervision


My academic home is in the field of Science and Technology Studies (STS), and my interests are in the nature and use of expertise. This translates into questions about the sorts of knowledge needed to make decisions, who possesses it, and how it is shared and acted upon.

Within STS, my work has played a central role in founding what has been called 'Studies of Expertise and Experience' or the 'Third Wave of Science Studies.' The characteristic features of this approach are a more 'realist' approach to expertise that emphasises the role of tacit knowledge and the development of a more explicitly normative approach through which STS scholars can contribute to technological decision-making in the public domain.


I joined the School of Social Sciences in January 1998, following a 2 year research post at the Centre for Urban Technology in the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and a brief spell as a Teaching Fellow at the LSE.

In the 20+ years that I have been in Cardiff, I have taught social research methods – qualitative and quantitative – and science and technology studies across the full range of our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. I have also taken on a range of administrative roles, most recently Director of Teaching and Learning (2015-2020).

Throughout this time, my research work has been devoted to developing the ‘Third Wave of Science Studies’, also known as ‘Studies of Expertise and Experience’. The origins of this can be traced to a 2002 paper, co-authored with Professor Harry Collins, that has given rise to a variety if theoretical, methodological and empirical projects. Perhaps the most satisfying of these has been the SEESHOP workshops that have been held every year since 2007, with this edited collection – The third wave in science and technology studies: future research directions on expertise and experience – containing some of the more recent contributions.

Professional memberships

  • Editorial Board Member: Social Studies of Science; Methodological Innovations Online
  • Member of Society for Social Studies of Science (4S)
  • Fellow of Higher Education Academy (formerly ILT) since 2003

Speaking engagements

  • Department of Science and Technology Studies, UCL (London, 5 May 2021)
  • US-European Summit on Talent Development (planned for Berkeley, April 2020; held online April 2021)
  • Experts under pressure workshop (Magdalene College, Cambridge, February 2020)
  • Swiss Anthropological Association (Zurich, November 2018)
  • Annual Meeting of the Lithuanian Sociological Association (Klapedia, November 2018)
  • Russian History and Philosophy of Science Society (Moscow, September 2018)
  • ‘Researching Expertise’ guest lecture, Royal Holloway (London June 2017)
  • House of Commons Select Committee hearing on science communication (London, November 2016)
  • Tsinghua University STS Summer School (Beijing, September 2016)
  • Trust in Economics workshop (Milan, January 2016)

Committees and reviewing

  • Reviewer for journals and research funding bodies, some of which is recorded on my publons profile.
  • ESRC Grant Assessment Panel (2016-2020)


























My current research is focussed around two main themes:

  • Studies of Expertise and Experience (SEE). The basis of this work is the ‘Third Wave of Science Studies’ paper, co-authored with Professor Harry Collins and published in 2002. This has led to the typology of expertise set out in Rethinking Expertise (2007), an exploration of Why Democracies Need Science (2017) and, most recently, a critique of populist politics published as Experts and the Will of the People (2020). Current projects include the provision of scientific advice to the UK government during the early stages of the covid-19 pandemic and a citizen science project based in the WISERD Centre for Civil Society.
  • Interactional Expertise and the Imitation Game. One of the most productive spin-offs of the work on expertise has been the idea of interactional expertise and development of the Imitation Game. Originally conceived as a proof-of-concept test for the idea of interactional expertise, the Imitation Game led to a €2.26M Advanced Research grant from the ERC’. Early results from this work are available as journal articles, with the project as a whole being now being written up as a ‘Handbook of Imitation Game’ research.


  • science and technology studies
  • public engagement with science and technology
  • expertise and decision-making