To what extent can we define the Norwegian genre «Farm and genealogical history» as «scientific history»?

By Arnfinn Kjelland

In Norway, local history books such as farm and genealogical histories are very popular. Most books cover the period from ca. 1600 until today, with fairly complete information about people, «families» and dwellings from the mid-18th century. A number of volumes are published annually.

Since 2005 the universities and colleges of Norway have had a system for reporting «scientific» activities in a national register. Publications, articles and books that meet four requirements get credits and each credit awards annual budget funds to the institution of the author. They have to present new insights, the results have to be verifiable or applicable in new research, they have to be available to the scientific community and they have to be published by an institution with routines for peer review.

This article discusses to what extent books in this rather unique Norwegian genre can be reported as «scientific history». Usually such books do not have any «research question» (or any traces of the IMRAD standard), they are written mainly for the ordinary public in the area of investigation. However, it will normally be possible through a peer review to see whether the method used meets the requirements, and if the author documents method and sources in a proper way, such books can be reported in the system.