In Changing Order: Replication and Induction in Scientific Practice, Collins outlines a general theory of sociology of science. Drawing from the concepts of "Language Game" and "Forms of Life", derived from the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, he seeks an explanation for how scientists follow rules and patterns when performing experiments and scientific practice. Collins' perspective is usually called a relativist position, although this is a strong oversimplification.
Collins has written for over 30 years on the sociology of gravitational wave physics. His publications in this area include: "The Seven Sexes: Study in Sociology of a Phenomenon, or Replication of Experiments in Physics" "Son of Seven Sexes: The Social Destruction of a Physical Phenomenon". He has traced the search for gravitational waves, and has shown how scientific data can be subject to interpretative flexibility, and how social or 'non-scientific' means can be sometimes used to close scientific controversies.
At the beginning of the two thousands, Collins along with Dr Robert Evans, also of Cardiff University, has published works on what they term the "Third Wave of Science Studies" and, in particular, the idea of interactional expertise. This aims to address questions of legitimacy and extension and public involvement in scientific decision-making. They continue to research and publish on this topic.
Collins, Harry M. (1985). Changing Order: Replication and Induction in Scientific Practice. London Beverly Hills: Sage Publications. ISBN9780803997172.
Collins, Harry M. (1990). Artificial Experts: Social Knowledge and Intelligent Machines. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. ISBN9780262531153.
Explains the nature and limits of intelligent machines, especially expert systems.
Collins, Harry M.; Pinch, Trevor (1998) . The Golem: What You Should Know about Science (2nd ed.). Cambridge, UK; New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. ISBN9781107604650.