Rebecca Jackson

Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow (Sep 2023-Aug 2024)

Rebecca L. Jackson is a historian and philosopher of measurement and methodology. In July 2023, she received her PhD in History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine from Indiana University Bloomington. Her dissertation, Measuring “Well”: Clinical Measuring Practices and Philosophy of Measurement, examined cases of non-standard, patient-centric measuring practices in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. As a Visiting Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Research Group “Practices of Validation in the Biomedical Sciences” at the MPIWG, Rebecca will focus on the development of idiographic (individualized) indexes for measuring health-related quality of life. Her current research traces the intertwined lineage of boundary-work and methodological debates on whether “clinimetrics” (the development of clinical indexes) deserves to be treated as a distinct discipline from, rather than an application of, psychometrics.

Previously, Rebecca has held predoctoral fellowships at the Science History Institute and the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia. Her work on the failure of standardized instruments for measuring the cervix during labor has been featured in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science (2022) and in a symposium, which received the Interdisciplinary Organized Session Prize from the International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology (ISHPSSB) in 2021. Her research on the “drop” as a nonstandard fluid unit in nineteenth-century Anglo-American medicine was featured in Perspectives on Science (2021) and received the Maurice Daumas Prize from the International Committee for the History of Technology (ICOHTEC) in 2023. Her upcoming coauthored work (with Claudia Cristalli) on reconstructing a psychophysical experiment conducted by C.S. Peirce and Joseph Jastrow in 1885 will appear in Nuncius in November 2023.


Measuring a Patient: Psychometric and Clinimetric Validation Practices and the Emergence of Idiographic Indexes, 1970s–2000s


No projects were found for this scholar.

Selected Publications

Jackson, Rebecca (2023). “How the Cervix Killed the Cervimeter: A Nonstandard Story of Successful Measurement.” Measurement 222 (Article 113652).

Read More

Cristalli, Claudia and Rebecca Jackson (2023). “From Postal Scale to Psychological Apparatus: A History of Experimental Psychology Through the Reconstruction of Peirce and Jastrow’s ‘On Small Differences of Sensation’ (1885).” Nuncius : journal of…

Read More

Jackson, Rebecca and Merlin Wassermann (2022). “When Standard Measurement Meets Messy Genitalia: Lessons from 20th Century Phallometry and Cervimetry.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, no. 95: 37–49.…

Read More

Jackson, Rebecca (2021). “‘The Uncertain Method of Drops’: How a Non-Uniform Unit Survived the Century of Standardization.” Perspectives on Science 29 (6): 802–841.

Read More

Past Events

Presentations, Talks, & Teaching Activities

Where Does Validity End and ‘Fit for Purpose’ Begin? Towards a Typology for Implementation Validity

ISOQOL 30th Annual Conference, International Society for Quality of Life Research (ISOQOL)

The Cervix, the Cervimeter, and Centimeters: A Historical Case of (Im)Precision in Clinical Practice

Measurement at the Crossroads 2020-2022: Measuring and Modeling, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore; Society for the Study of Measurement

‘Your Genitals Don’t Lie!’ an Escorted Encounter with the History and Philosophy of Phallic and Cervical Measuring

ISHPSSB Biennial Meeting, International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology (ISHPSSB)

Constructing Centimeters: Emanuel Friedman’s Cervimeter and the Dilatation-Time Curve

Philosophy of Science Association 27th Biennial Meeting, Philosophy of Science Association

‘The Uncertain Method of Drops’: How a Non-uniform Fluid Unit Survived the Century of Standardization

Measurement at the Crossroads: History, Philosophy and Sociology of Measurement, Paris Diderot University (Paris 7)

Nachrichten & Presse

In Bildern: Bibliothek veranstaltet ersten Publications Slam