Author(ity): The Literature Review as Expert Witnesses


  • Mike Metcalfe University of South Australia



literature review, references, root metaphors, evidence, author(ity)


This paper is about using evidence from previous authors; literature reviews. This has already been done, for example by WEBSTER and WATSON (2002) in the journal MISQ and LATOUR (1987) in "Science in Action," but the former used the root metaphor of the previous literature being objective facts (truthful sign posts) towards empirics while LATOUR used the root metaphor of references ganging up on the reader to persuade. This paper will provide a middle road on the same topic using the root metaphor of the courtroom. Revealing and justifying alternative root metaphors is central to interpretive research. Therefore, presentation of these different interpretations of the same topic (literature reviews) provides a unique opportunity to appreciate "seeking interpretations" as a research methodology. Readers are advised to read these two other interpretations as well as this paper, noting how a different root metaphor can lead to very different appreciation of a situation. Therefore, and more specifically, this paper will argue for social inquiry researchers to adopt the root metaphor of considering literature reviews to be the calling upon expert witnesses to provide supporting or counter evidence justifying their paper's conclusion. It will present and demonstrate the courtroom as a root metaphor. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0301187


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Author Biography

Mike Metcalfe, University of South Australia

Mike METCALFE's research interest is problem definition (including research as a problem) using argumentative inquiry, which he defines to include critical systems and perspectival thinking.




How to Cite

Metcalfe, M. (2003). Author(ity): The Literature Review as Expert Witnesses. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 4(1).



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