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Research

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Investigations: Tourists in an unknown town: Remapping the social sciences

Andrew Abbott, AM'75, PhD'82, proposes a theory of research in the social sciences that follows a fractal pattern. There's a curious thing about fractals. Once you recognize a pattern, you begin seeing them all over the place: in the tangled tops of crab apple trees, in the early winter waves crashing against the concrete riprap along the South Shore, and-in Andrew Abbott's case-in the way knowledge moves through the social sciences.
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> > Coursework: Mind over matter: Does the mind matter?
The course title alone is enough to scare away the slacker and the faint of heart: "Psychoneuroimmunology." It doesn't help that on the first day Martha McClintock, who co-teaches the newly developed undergraduate course with JosÚ Quintans, comments that the name should really be "Psychosocialneuroendocrinimmunology."
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> > Syllabus
How do you pick a textbook for a course that doesn't fall into an established field? Well, you don't. Such a new science depends on up-to-the-minute data. "The readings are going to be original research articles, usually four to five a week, available on reserve," says McClintock. The first day of class, McClintock brought up an article just published in Nature-even Quintans hadn't heard of it yet.
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  DECEMBER 2000

  > > Volume 93, Number 2


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