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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

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
  • Transcript

    • 1. Interdisciplinary Research …their work …our support Jenny Delasalle & Richard Parker For Library EMT, 22 June 2010
    • 2. 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
    • 3. Multidisciplinary research Problem information, techniques, perspective, terminology, concepts etc
    • 4. Interdisciplinary research Problem Shared language, Methodology
    • 5. Transdisciplinary research? Problem Framework: assumptions, theories & frames of analysis …
    • 6.
      • Problem
      A whole discipline Own teaching techniques, funding, administration and professional development. Hierarchies and specialisations within a discipline. sub sub
    • 7. 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
      • (
    • 8. 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
    • 9. 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
    • 10. 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?
    • 11. 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!
    • 12. Drivers for interdisciplinary research
      • Improve profile
      • Acquire new skills and contacts
      • Create international calibre
      • Collaborate with non-academic areas
      • Financial support – funders
    • 13. 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.