Category: interdisciplinary research

“Interdisciplinary, like everyone else.” But are you being interdisciplinary for the wrong reasons?

Interdisciplinarity is the talk of the town. Funding agencies favour interdisciplinary research proposals, teaching programmes focus on developing interdisciplinary courses, and the publication of interdisciplinary studies has surged over recent decades. Lakshmi Balachandran Nair considers whether interdisciplinarity remains a strategy to surpass the limits of the methodological tools, theories, and views offered by a single discipline or has instead become […]

Can we have it all? Navigating trade-offs between research excellence, development impact, and collaborative research processes

The “gold standard” of impactful international development research involves equitable north-south partnership, interdisciplinary collaboration, and co-production with non-academic actors, ideally including local communities. Such participatory and collaborative approaches are intended to have longer-term benefits, strengthening capacity for research, innovation, and knowledge exchange. Admirable though this may sound, it’s easy to see how it might appear overwhelming to researchers expected to […]

Doing research for (and not on) development: some important questions for the Global Challenges Research Fund

The Global Challenges Research Fund has an impressively wide-ranging research agenda, covering a range of development issues. But as well as funding research on development, Ajoy Datta argues the fund should promote understanding of how to undertake research for development too. This requires academics to have specific skills and experience of working effectively with colleagues and partners in the Global […]

Embracing the chaos: by transcending disciplinary boundaries researchers can reconceptualise human-nature relations

Issues of the scale of mass species extinctions or climate change are never going to be solved by a single discipline acting alone. Cecily Maller argues that what is needed is greater dialogue, conversation, and collaboration across the social and natural sciences, as they currently exist in their traditional, divided modes. In order to shift the binary, at times reductionist […]

What can interdisciplinary collaborations learn from the science of team science?

Teamwork makes the dream work, and for interdisciplinary collaborations there are many lessons to be learned from the science of team science. Suzi Spitzer shares ten such lessons here: start by assembling participants with a variety of social skills, such as negotiation and social perceptiveness; avoid jargon and make sure shared words have shared meaning; and accept that conflict, while […]

Recognising interdisciplinary expertise: is it time we established the integration and implementation sciences?

Embedding interdisciplinarity into the academic mainstream has proved a constant challenge. Gabriele Bammer asks whether it might help to define the relevant expertise as a new discipline, one that recognises important skills such as the ability to combine knowledge from different disciplines, determine which disciplines and stakeholders have valuable perspectives, examine how elements of problems are interconnected, assess the likely […]

Why we should not ignore interdisciplinarity’s critics

Amidst the push from universities and funding agencies for increased interdisciplinary research, interdisciplinarity has also been the subject of a number of critiques in recent years. Rick Szostak believes many such critiques to be misguided and focused on research that is at best multidisciplinary and at worst produces no useful results; work that should not be taken as representative of […]

Four strategies to increase the likelihood of creating and sustaining successful research teams

Modern scientific expertise rests heavily upon work carried out by teams, rather than scholars working on their own. Proper preparation is key, with some research suggesting that the effectiveness of collaborative work is determined before any of the work is carried out. Howard Aldrich and Akram Al-Turk have identified four structural elements that increase the likelihood of creating and sustaining […]

The impact of social sciences on health behaviour interventions has diminished – more interdisciplinary, culture-focused research is needed

Capturing the impact of social sciences on other disciplines is notoriously difficult. Daniel Holman, Rebecca Lynch, and Aaron Reeves have looked at the example of health behaviour interventions (HBIs), a field recently criticised for failing to draw on alternative, social sciences approaches that emphasise the structured and contextual aspects of behaviour and health. A bibliometric analysis of the HBIs field […]