Interdisciplinary research theories & thoughts


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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

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