School of Social and Political Science

Dr Rhodri Ivor Leng

Job Title

Lecturer in Science, Technology, and Innovation Studies

Photo
Rhodri Leng

Room number

2.93

Building (Address)

Old Surgeons' Hall

Street (Address)

High School Yards

City (Address)

Edinburgh

Country (Address)

UK

Post code (Address)

EH1 1LZ

Research interests

Research interests

Sociology of Science, Scientometrics, Network science, Computational Social Science, Public Policy, History of Science

Rhodri’s research focusses on how science develops: how its findings spread and influence opinion, and the biases that undermine this process. It thus relates directly to research integrity and to research impact. His approach is data-driven, requiring the analysis of large bibliographic datasets to study the dynamics of publication and citation. These datasets, in capturing the citation links between documents across the history of science, capture dynamics of scientific development and enable the impact of particular findings, particular innovations – and particular ideas and particular scientists – to be mapped and evaluated.  

His research is particularly concerned with recognising citation bias and other citation distortions in the scientific literature, understanding how they arise, and understanding their consequences. This involves methods of systematic literature retrieval, systematic review and meta-analysis, quantitative bibliographic data analysis, citation network analysis, and content analysis. His work draws from models in network science that concern generative mechanisms of topology of dynamic networks to understand how the structure of citation networks affects the spread of information, and hence shapes scientific opinion. It also involves integrating this understanding into sociological and philosophical theories of scientific development and citation behaviour. To date, this has also involved investigating case studies in the biomedical literature – from dietary epidemiology to physiology.

Completed Projects

ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow (2020-2021). Project title: Selective citation and the shaping of scientific knowledge: Citation network analysis and the diet–heart debate. 

ESRC Advanced Quantitative Methods PhD Studentship (2016-2019): Project title: Selective citation and the shaping of scientific knowledge: Citation network analysis and the diet–heart debate.

PhD Supervision

I am happy to supervise undergraduate or postgraduate students interested in the sociology and history of science, particularly those interested in practices of evidence use in the scientific literature, the use of scientific evidence in policy or industry, or those interested in using network analysis. I'm also happy to supervise projects in politics and social policy, particularly those interested in projects exploring the use of evidence in policy.

Find out more about the programmes that I am involved with:

Background

Rhodri Leng is a sociologist of science. His current research concerns developing understanding of how the structure of citation networks affects the spread of information across the scientific literature, how the spread of information affects the development of scientific opinion, and involves integrating this understanding into theories of scientific development. An important element of his work involves developing methods to detect citation bias and other citation distortions in the literature. This involves methods of systematic literature retrieval, systematic review and meta-analysis, citation network analysis, and content analysis.

Before returning to academia to pursue his PhD, he held two professional positions in UK politics working as a parliamentary assistant to Mark Lazarowicz MP (House of Commons) and a press and policy officer to Sarah Boyack MSP (Scottish Parliament). He holds MA (1st class Honours) in Politics from the University of Glasgow, a postgraduate MA in Political and Legal Philosophy from the University of York, and MSc(R) and PhD in Science and Technology Studies from the University of Edinburgh.

His PhD was funded by the ESRC+3 Advanced Quantitative Methods (AQM) Studentship and focussed on understanding the role of selective citation in the scientific literature examining the relationship between diet and coronary heart disease. Following this, he was awarded an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship to extend his project by developing and refining methods for the detection and evaluation of selective citation in the scientific literature. During his PhD, he co-authored a book, The Matter of Facts (MIT Press), which outlines and contextualises problems in contemporary science.

During his PhD and postdoctoral position, Rhodri worked as a tutor on three undergraduate courses (Understanding Public Policy; Social Policy and Society; Evidence, Policy, and Politics), a guest lecturer (Controversies in Medicine, Technology, and Environment; Digesting Food Policy; Foundations in Responsible Research and Innovation), and developed an online course in systematic literature search and network analysis for literature review for the Biomedical and Social Sciences. This course has been running since 2020, and can be accessed via the RTC's Micro-Methods workshops, and his course has previously been run as workshops on behalf of the ESRC-SGSSS Advanced Methods scheme for PGR students across UK. In 2019, he was awarded the ‘Best Student Who Tutors Award’ at the EUSA Teaching Awards

In November 2021, upon completion of postdoctoral project, Rhodri took a permanent research position research position at Baillie Gifford, a large asset management firm famous for investing in growth technology stocks. His work consisted of producing original research for investment teams, particularly focussing on theories and models of industry development and sociotechnical transitions, the implications of the deteriorating US-China relationship for industry, stock correlation networks and portfolio diversification strategies, and mapping scientific fields in topics of interest. Beyond his research, he produced quarterly quantitative and thematic risk reports, providing independent challenge for several large equity strategies, was involved in strengthening the firm’s research capabilities, and was involved in forging new academic partnerships and relationships with external experts - leading a funding call for two projects producing climate scenarios for the firm. 

From January 2024, Rhodri will be taking up a permanent lectureship in Science, Technology, and Innovation Studies at Edinburgh.

Staff Hours and Guidance

Monday & Wednesday 10:00 - 12:00. Please email in advance for an appointment. 

Publications by user content

Publication Research Explorer link
Bandola-Gill J, Arthur M, Leng R. What is co-production? Conceptualising and understanding co-production of knowledge and policy across different theoretical perspectives. Evidence and Policy. 2023 May;19(2): 275 - 298. Epub 2022 Mar 22. doi: 10.1332/174426421X16420955772641
Wong M, Leng R. On the design of linked datasets mapping networks of collaboration in the genomic sequencing of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Homo sapiens, and Sus scrofa. F1000Research. 2023 Feb 28;8:1200. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.18656.3
Zambetti LP, Vermeulen N, Heteren LV, Drooge LV, Strouk M, Sinisalo AS et al. Harnessing the power of evaluation to build better international strategic partnerships between universities - Condensed version of The EVALUATE framework and handbook. 2022. doi: 10.5281/zenodo.7330917
Leng G, Leng R, Ludwig M. Oxytocin—a social peptide? Deconstructing the evidence. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 2022 Aug 29;377:20210055. Epub 2022 Jul 11. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2021.0055
Leng R, Viry G, Garcia-Sancho M, Lowe J, Wong M, Vermeulen N. The sequences and the sequencers: What can a mixed-methods approach reveal about the history of genomics? Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences. 2022 Jun 1;52(3):277-319. doi: 10.1525/hsns.2022.52.3.277
Garcia-Sancho M, Leng R, Viry G, Wong M, Vermeulen N, Lowe J. The Human Genome Project as a singular episode in the history of genomics. Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences. 2022 Jun 1;52(3):320-360. doi: 10.1525/hsns.2022.52.3.320
Garcia-Sancho M, Lowe J, Viry G, Leng R, Wong M, Vermeulen N. Yeast sequencing: 'Network' genomics and institutional bridges. Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences. 2022 Jun 1;52(3):361-400. doi: 10.1525/hsns.2022.52.3.361
Lowe J, Garcia-Sancho M, Leng R, Wong M, Vermeulen N, Viry G. Across and within networks: Thickening the history of genomics. Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences. 2022 Jun 1;52(3):443-475. doi: 10.1525/hsns.2022.52.3.443
Lowe J, Leng R, Viry G, Wong M, Vermeulen N, Garcia-Sancho M. The bricolage of pig genomics. Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences. 2022 Jun 1;52(3):401-442. doi: 10.1525/hsns.2022.52.3.401
Leng RI. Diversity in citations to a single study: A citation context network analysis of how evidence from a prospective cohort study was cited. Quantitative Science Studies. 2021 Dec 1;2(4):1216–1245. doi: 10.1162/qss_a_00154
Leng G, Leng RI. Oxytocin: A citation network analysis of 10 000 papers. Journal of Neuroendocrinology. 2021 Nov;33(11). Epub 2021 Jul 13. doi: 10.1111/jne.13014
Leng RI. Selective citation and the shaping of scientific knowledge: Citation network analysis and the diet-heart debate. 2020. doi: 10.7488/era/352
Leng G, Leng RI. The Matter of Facts: Skepticism, Persuasion, and Evidence in Science. 2020. doi: 10.7551/mitpress/12228.001.0001
Leng G, Leng R, Maclean S. The vasopressin-memory hypothesis: a citation network analysis of a debate. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 2019 May 21. Epub 2019 May 21. doi: 10.1111/nyas.14110
Leng RI. A network analysis of the propagation of evidence regarding the effectiveness of fat-controlled diets in the secondary prevention of coronary heart disease (CHD): Selective citation in reviews. PLoS ONE. 2018 May 24;13(5):1-19. e0197716. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0197716