Professor; Director, Knowledge Lab; Faculty Director, Masters Program in Computational Social Sciences

Office: Social Sciences 420
Phone: 773-834-3612

B.A. Brigham Young University, 1994
M.A. Stanford University, 1999
Ph.D. Stanford University, 2004

Website     CV

My research focuses on the collective system of thinking and knowing, ranging from the distribution of attention and intuition, the origin of ideas and shared habits of reasoning to processes of agreement (and dispute), accumulation of certainty (and doubt), and the texture—novelty, ambiguity, topology—of human understanding. I am especially interested in innovation—how new ideas and practices emerge—and the role that social and technical institutions (e.g., the Internet, markets, collaborations) play in collective cognition and discovery. Much of my work has focused on areas of modern science and technology, but I am also interested in other domains of knowledge—news, law, religion, gossip, hunches and historical modes of thinking and knowing. I support the creation of novel observatories for human understanding and action through crowd sourcing, information extraction from text and images, and the use of distributed sensors (e.g., RFID tags, cell phones). I use machine learning, generative modeling, social and semantic network representations to explore knowledge processes, scale up interpretive and field-methods, and create alternatives to current discovery regimes. My research is funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Templeton Foundation and other sources, and has been published in ScienceAmerican Journal of SociologySocial Studies of Science,Administrative Science QuarterlyPLoS Computational Biology and other journals. My work has been featured in Nature, the EconomistAtlantic MonthlyWiredNPRBBCEl PaísCNN and many other outlets.

At Chicago, I am Director of Knowledge Lab, which has collaborative, granting and employment opportunities, as well as ongoing seminars. I also sponsor the Computational Social Science workshop (with John Brehm) and the Knowledge-Value workshop (with John Kelly) and co-organize the Rational Choice workshop (with Gary Becker, Richard Posner & Glen Weyl). I teach courses in the history of modern science, science studies, computational content analysis, and Internet and Society. Before Chicago, I received my doctorate in sociology from Stanford University, served as a research associate in the Negotiation, Organizations, and Markets group at Harvard Business School, started a private high school focused on project-based arts education, and completed a B. A. in Anthropology and Economics at Brigham Young University. 

Selected Publications

Evans, James. 2010. “Industry Collaboration, Scientific Sharing and the Dissemination of Knowledge.” Social Studies of Science 40(5): 757-791.

Evans, James. 2010. “Industry Induces Academic Science to Know Less About More.” American Journal of Sociology 116(2): 389-452.

West, Jevon, Jacob Foster, Daril Villena, James Evans, Carl Bergstrom. Forthcoming. “Finding Cultural Holes: How Structure and Culture Diverge in Networks of Scholarly Communication”Sociological Science.

Evans, James, Jae-Mahn Shim, John P. Ioannidis. Forthcoming. “Attention to Local Health Burden and the Global Disparity of Health Research” PLOS ONE.

Evans, James. 2013. “Communication and the Evolution of Cognition.” In Linda Caporael, James Griesemer and William Wimsatt, eds., Scaffolding in Evolution, Cognition and Culture, MIT Press. 

Divoli, Anna, Eneida Mendonça, James Evans, Andrey Rzhetsky. 2011. “Conflicting biomedical assumptions for mathematical modeling: The case of cancer metastasis”  PLoS Computational Biology 7(10): e1002132. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002132.

Evans, James and Jacob Foster. 2011 “Metaknowledge.” Science 331(6018):721-725

Evans, James and Andrey Rzhetsky. 2010. “Machine Science.”  Science 329(5990): 399.

Evans, James and Jacob Reimer. 2009. “Open Access and Global Participation in Science,” Science323: 1025.

Evans, James. 2008. “Electronic Publication and the Narrowing of Science and Scholarship,”Science 321: 395-399.