In historicizing the transdisciplinary foundations of validity and situating it in relation to that of other evaluative categories, such as “specificity” and "sensitivity," "accountability" and "relevance," this research group studies how study results and diagnostic testing have been established, assessed, and regulated in modern biomedical research.
Methods and concepts used to ascertain the quality of scientific research have a long history. In the twentieth century, the technical term "validity"—one with a complex genealogy from logic and statistics to psychology—was put to use in many sciences. The term denotes the extent to which an assessment of an item actually captures what it intends to capture: a "valid" intelligence test is thus informative about intelligence. Introductions to psychometry often represent this idea of validity as hitting a target mark. This idea was put into practice within different medical sciences in the postwar period.
In the second half of the twentieth century, practices of validation in the biomedical sciences faced several interlocking challenges, such as the exponential growth of the biomedical research community, technological developments that led to ever more data-driven research, and the reproducibility crisis in translational medicine, to name just a few. In following the reconfigurations of biomedical approaches to human health and disease, as well as of methods used to ascertain validity, we combine historical and philosophical work to contextualize how biomedicine’s targets are formed and moved through practices of validation.