The context of explanation or justification refers to whether theories should be accepted, rejected or modified, by focusing on the approval of the rules for legitimate scientific knowledge. The emphasis here is not why or how research questions emerge but the precision or exactitude of the legitimation processes in the research for scientific response or truth. In contrast; under the context of discovery, the how and why questions are then discussed. By this means, what is the origin of the research question and/or why it is relevant. According to SSK, there cannot be a distinction between both contexts of discovery and justification because science is an impartial social activity and knowledge is determined by concepts established by social, political and professional circumstances.
From another perspective, ESK engages their understanding of human behavior to interpret scientists as economic agents driven mainly by a self-interest rather than a common social one. Thus, the context of discovery particularly matters since it determines the criteria such as; the social context, incentive structure or rhetorical process of persuasion for which knowledge is constructed. Additionally, the context of discovery is relevant because it raises credibility and acceptance which aid scholars and scientist to be easily published. Therefore, it is imperative to recognize that the quantity and quality of knowledge might be affected by this context. Since the context of discovery regarding ESK has a reward structure that creates incentives for individual scientist to follow their self-interest, more scientists might rush their discoveries expecting recognition or engage themselves in a high competition race for wining prices. Blanchard and Dasgupta noticed that reputation-based reward system drive scientist to came up with breakthrough models and theories, which might not have indeed any relevant application in the real world but increase the stock of reliable knowledge.
Furthermore, Merton claimed that this context of discovery can turn problematic when knowledge comes not for the content of science but for the aim of publishing on a recognized journal and gaining validation within scholars. Thus, he postulated four preconditions such as universalism, organized skepticism, disinterestedness and communism influencing economic policies so that scientist will receive economic support and they will commit to these four, as seem, scientific values. The Laboratory Study Approach, a microsociological form of SSK, focus on the daily practices of scientists and how what they do in laboratories influences the development of knowledge.
A version of this approach is the Actor Network Theory which perceives science as a process rather than a development of established truths. For instance, the organization of the UvA Faculty of Economics and Business work as such network. However, both economics and business schools have to directly compete with each other for the largest share of a budget as they will receive funds according to their achievements.
In a sense, this system might implicate that members of the business faculty feel more pressure as they are being intensively checked by economists. Whereas, at the same time members of the economics faculty receives less pressure to support something critical enough and philosophical defendable. Therefore, the aim of conducting appropriate, disinterested research might be risked as scientists are rewarded by aiming other interest such as economic funds or prestige within the academic society.