Scientific Norms/Counternorms

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Book Chapter

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Life and Physical Sciences, Science and Technology

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The classic sociological formulation of the “norms of science” was given by Robert K. Merton, in an article originally published as “A Note on Science and Democracy” (1942) and reprinted as “Science and Democratic Social Structure” in his Social Theory and Social Structure (1968 [1949, 1957]) and as “The Normative Structure of Science” in The Sociology of Science (1973). The formulation is sometimes known by its initials, CUDOS, which stands for the four norms: communism, universalism, disinterestedness, and organized skepticism. Merton's representation of the normative character of science has proved to be one of the most enduring of all sociological analyses. It has been discussed at length by both critics, who proposed the concept of counternorms, and sympathizers, and in the late 1960s and early 1970s became emblematic of the “Mertonian” approach to the social study of science. Nor has it remained static. “Replication” is sometimes called the fifth norm. John Ziman suggested that “originality” be added as a norm, and in many recent explanations of the acronym CUDOS the O is used for originality.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Scientific Norms/Counternorms, in G. Ritzer, J. M. Ryan & B. Thorn (Eds.), The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology (1st Ed.), John Wiley & Sons, p. 4109-4112