This is part of the second step into an attempted reboot of this community: Rebooting Cognitive Sciences: a Suggested Approach
This site is now several years in beta, and it is about time we revisit and more concretely define which scientific disciplines are in scope, and how this should be reflected in the site name. The discussion on these issues is summarized in the recent community review:
Scope: Which fields of study can ask questions here? How to deal with overlap with other sites?
- We decided to welcome any cognitive science, in line with the definition of Wikipedia. This includes any field which tackles the mind or its processes (behavior), including animals. E.g., Human-Computer Interaction, Neurobiology, Applied Psychology, Social Psychology, Sociology, Neuroinformatics.
- This implies an overlap with sites like, e.g., Programmers, Biology, UX, Cross Validated, and Skeptics. However, when questions do not pertain to the mind or behavior, they are off topic here: e.g. some questions about HCI, statistics, coding experiments.
- However, generally we do want to have a scientific focus (whether we accept laymen or not). E.g. the Autism proposal was not deemed a good fit for this site.
- Concrete guidelines for overlap with specific sites is desirable: e.g., Biology, in particular neurobiology seems to repeatedly overlap.
- What to do with questions about highly specific tools and tool requests is still undecided. In particular, we have many questions on neuroscience software.
- There is some discussion on whether or not psychiatry should remain in scope.
- Bias-laden questions are off-topic, e.g., improbably human conditions.
- Our about (help section) of the site should clearly communicate what is in scope and what is not.
Site name: We have noticed our site name might lead to confusion on what this site is, what new name should we use?
- The name "Cognitive Sciences" can be interpreted to only welcome cognitive science and cognitive psychology, thus excluding, e.g., non-cognitive sub-disciplines of psychology. We have collected evidence showcasing that psychology and neuroscience is often perceived to be excluded.
- There is a strong majority favoring a name change.
- When choosing a new name, the url prefix needs to be considered as well.
- Many popular suggestions follow the format "A and B": Cognitive Science and Psychology, Psychology and Neuroscience, Mind and Brain.
- An attempt at getting an overview of consensus resulted in two favorites (Psychology and Neuroscience, and Mind and Brain), with Psychology and Neuroscience as a clear winner.
- Unfortunately these suggestions go against the naming standards of SE, which 'suggest' avoiding "X and B" like names.
- Regardless, this is a topic which keeps resurfacing. The name keeps causing confusion even for active researchers in the fields.
The next step now is to collect concrete proposals for a potential different scope and site name, keeping in mind the issues mentioned above. A proposal would do well by including the following:
- An exhaustive list of scientific disciplines we want to target explicitly.
- A list of scientific disciplines we potentially do not want to consider, including a motivation why.
- A suggestion on how to handle overlap with specific other sites.
- A suggestion on how to handle questions only tangentially related to the mind, which do not have a home on other sites (given the recent events of the closed neuroscience proposal).
- A suggested site name and url prefix, reflecting the earlier described scope, including a motivation.