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Interdisciplinary research theories & thoughts
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Interdisciplinary research theories & thoughts



An adaptation from a presentation by Jenny Delasalle and Richard Parker to the University of Warwick's Library management team in June 2010

An adaptation from a presentation by Jenny Delasalle and Richard Parker to the University of Warwick's Library management team in June 2010



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  • Same stimuli = same results in physical sciences… not necessarily, in soc sci!
  • Come to the research with a bias from their own discipline…
  • Overcome suspicions and naivity through guided reading of each others’ literature. – Greaves & Grant

Interdisciplinary research theories & thoughts Interdisciplinary research theories & thoughts Presentation Transcript

  • Interdisciplinary Research …their work …our support Jenny Delasalle & Richard Parker For Library EMT, 22 June 2010
  • What’s it all about?
    • Interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, cross-disciplinary, transdisciplinary, subdisciplinary, …*disciplinarity
    • Quantitative/Qualitative preferences.
    • What is a science? What makes a science? How wide is the divide?
    • Within the Social Sciences?
    • From Social Sciences to Natural Sciences? Physical Sciences
  • Multidisciplinary research Problem information, techniques, perspective, terminology, concepts etc
  • Interdisciplinary research Problem Shared language, Methodology
  • Transdisciplinary research? Problem Framework: assumptions, theories & frames of analysis …
    • Problem
    A whole discipline Own teaching techniques, funding, administration and professional development. Hierarchies and specialisations within a discipline. sub sub
  • More big words…
    • Ontology – What can we research?
    • Epistemology – What can be known about it?
    • Methodology – How can we find that out? (Strategic level)
    • Research Methods – techniques & procedures (Operational level)
    • Data Sources
    • ( http://www.politicsjournal.org/Articles/grix.pdf)
  • Interdisciplinary teaching
    • Research-led teaching! Lead academics with skills/experience in both disciplines
    • Employers expect of our students that they can work across disciplinary boundaries
    • Module formats and assessment methods acceptable to all departments!
    • Packed curricula: enough in their own discipline!
    • Timetabling, deadlines, pre-requisites
  • Limitations on/barriers to interdisciplinary research
    • Career advancement concerns: hierarchy
    • RAE/REF discipline-based panels
    • Suspicion regarding rigour of qualitative research
    • Lack of respect/confidence in each others’ findings. Value judgements.
    • Naïve expectations of the others’ contribution.
    • Must overcome mis-understandings… assumptions, methodology, vocabulary
    • (NB less distance might cause more assumptions!)
    • How to write joint publications:
      • “ tersely argued” in just a few pages vs discursive styles.
      • Standardising jargon of different disciplines.
    • “ Replacing one orthodoxy with another”
    • Loss of specialisation
  • Academics’ needs
    • Learn from experts in other disciplines
    • Where to start in unfamiliar territory
    • Which methodology to follow
    • How the discipline is structured
    • Guided reading
    • Which methods to use? How to explore ideas?
    • What is happening/Who is doing interesting work in their field?
  • Benefits of interdisciplinary co-operation
    • Methodological insights
    • Opening areas of interest
    • Developing common approaches
    • Fresh insights: a new perspective
    • Re-framing a problem
    • Enhance wider-world significance/impact of the research
    • Carve your own niche!
  • Drivers for interdisciplinary research
    • Improve profile
    • Acquire new skills and contacts
    • Create international calibre
    • Collaborate with non-academic areas
    • Financial support – funders
  • What has the library got?
    • AS team which crosses the disciplines.
    • Individuals who have crossed discipline.
    • New perspective to add when considering where to publish.
    • Contacts in/knowledge of individuals across departments.
    • Subscription databases to use for identifying collaborators.