On the relationship between interdisciplinarity and scientific impact

on the relationship between interdisciplinarity and scientific impact

Title: On the relationship between interdisciplinarity and scientific impact. Authors : Lariviere, Vincent; Gingras, Yves. Publication: eprint arXiv This article analyzes the effect of interdisciplinarity on the scientific impact of individual articles. Using all the articles published in Web of. On the relationship between interdisciplinarity and scientific impact. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

The Contexts of Knowing: Natural History of a Globally Distributed Team.

on the relationship between interdisciplinarity and scientific impact

Journal of Organizational Behavior. Cooperation, Competition, and Team Performance: Toward a Contingency Approach. Academy of Management Journal.

on the relationship between interdisciplinarity and scientific impact

Collaboration for Health Improvement: Models for State, Community, and Academic Partnerships. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. Models and Mechanisms for Building and Funding Partnerships. Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology. Board of Health Care Services, I. Priority Areas for National Action: Transforming Health Care Quality. National Academies Press; Health Education and Behavior.

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on the relationship between interdisciplinarity and scientific impact

Health Policy Roundtable—Policy by Numbers: Competing Paradigms in Qualitative Research. Denzin N, Lincoln Y, editors. Handbook of Qualitative Research.

Observations from the CDC. Does Health Plan Type Matter?

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The concept of development was dominant in the social sciences in the s and s under the crossdisciplinary umbrella of modernization theory. Modernization theory grew out of the need to achieve some degree of coherent coordination between the different and sometimes contradictory development strategies proposed by the separate social science disciplines. Economists argued that development would occur if sufficient amounts of capital investment are made and markets are developed.

Political scientists argued that development requires modern bureaucracies, effective governance, and political participation. Sociologists argued that modern social institutions such as factories, schools, and mass media are key components in any development plan.

Anthropologists argued that the residents of poor countries had to change their traditional cultural values into modern ones if development were to occur. Psychologists argued that individual personality development is the key, shifting the orientation from ascription to achievement. Modernization theory tried to bring all of these diverse perspectives together. It was the central organizing theory of the crossdisciplinary field of development studies. Hybrids combine parts of two existing, related disciplines to form interstitial new crossdisciplines that attempt to bridge perceived gaps between disciplines Miller Well-known examples include social psychology, political economy, biogeography, historical sociology, etcetera.

Sometimes the hybrid crossdisciplinary fields generate new theories whose promise is so great that they are borrowed back into their constituent disciplines.

Social psychology's symbolic interaction theory is a case in point. In fact, Dogan and Pahre argued that hybrid activity is the most likely source of innovative advances One of the most important hybrids in the interdisciplinary realm of international relations is political economy, especially in the form of international political economy IPE.

IPE uses the multi-perspective approach mentioned above. It juxtaposes the competing explanatory perspectives of the market model from economics, institutionalism from political science, and historical materialism from classical political economy Miller The differing perspectives provide a rich treasury of insights, understandings, critiques, and research strategies.

There is more on IPE below. Three major examples of this category are women's studies, ethnic studies, and postcolonial studies. These crossdisciplinary fields entered the academy as outgrowths of the social movements of the late s and early s. According to some observers, one of the costs of this institutional acceptance was the loss of one of the early objectives of these movements, social change activism in the community Messer-Davidow Virtually all of the over women's studies programs in the United States teach feminist theory, an integrating perspective which focuses on socially constructed gender systems and standpoint analysis.

Standpoint theory contends that how one perceives any human condition depends on the position that one occupies in the society. Those who are being oppressed are going to see things very differently than those who are doing the oppressing. According to Ann Tickner, feminism challenges the neopositivist and state-centric orientation of international relations in the United States.

The unequal relationships that pervade the world are socially constructed and vary from place to place, with women suffering universally from male-dominated exercises of power. Knowledge should not be pursued for its own sake or for the benefit of the state but in order to facilitate the emancipation of the oppressed —7. Among the specified features of Eurocentrism are reductionism, individualism, and domination over nature, whereas Afrocentricity is associated with holism, community, and harmony with nature Azibo Africana research is about participation, relationships, interdependence, and the liberation of Africana people Transdisciplinary Approaches Starting with Jantsch's classic essaytransdisciplinary approaches have been understood to involve articulated conceptual frameworks that seek to transcend the more limited worldviews of the specialized conventional disciplines.

Advocates for transdisciplinary approaches often directly challenge the efficacy of conventional disciplines, claiming that they are part of the problem rather than the solution, especially when the objective is the mitigation of complex social problems.

Defining Interdisciplinary Research: Conclusions from a Critical Review of the Literature

Proponents of transdisciplinary approaches frequently accuse the hegemonic conventional disciplines of protecting the status quo rather than promoting progressive change. The framers of some transdisciplinary approaches see them as providing alternatives to the worldviews of the conventional disciplines that they would replace.

Examples of discipline-replacement transdisciplinary approaches would be general systems theory, Marxism, and cultural studies. Examples of transdisciplinary approaches that could supplement rather than replace conventional disciplines would be symbolic interactionism, rational choice theory, and gender theory Miller General systems theory, the transdisciplinary approach that Jantsch favored, contends that nature is a hierarchy of similar structures up through the whole succession of physical, biological, and social systems.

There are similar developmental patterns throughout nature, but there are different paths that can lead to the same destination. Through the organization of energy from the environment negative entropy and communication with the environment negative feedbacksystems seek to maintain dynamic equilibria. This theory conceives of nature as a holistic set of relationships that thrives on diversity. David Easton introduced systems thinking to political science in the s and s because he felt the discipline was too narrow.

on the relationship between interdisciplinarity and scientific impact

However, in their view systemism moves away from Easton's bias towards homeostatic proclivities and emphasis on the macro level. Systemism includes both the macro and the micro and all forms of interaction between them James and James forthcoming. Since the s general systems theory has been the main transdisciplinary approach of environmental or ecological studies Costanza Today this field is most likely to be called sustainability studies.

In a major conference on transdisciplinarity held in Switzerland insustainability was put forward as not only the major reason for the necessity of transdisciplinarity but also as a transdisciplinary approach in itself Thompson Klein et al.

The lack of an agreed-upon general theory for engaging in the intellectual process of integrating across disciplines led William Newell to search for the most comprehensive and functionally effective transdisciplinary theory. He decided on general systems. But the first difficulty that Newell faced was deciding on which version of general systems theory to embrace.

He identified eight possibilities: After studying them all, he chose complex systems as the preferred approach. Newell explains, Specifically, the theory of interdisciplinarity studies that I am advocating focuses on the form of complexity that is a feature of the structure as well as the behavior of a complex system, on complexity generated by nonlinear relationships among a large number of components, and on the influence of the components and relationships of the system on its overall pattern of behavior.

None agreed with his suggestion, primarily because they did not believe that the range and diversity of interdisciplinary possibilities could be captured within one theoretical framework Issues In Europe the transdisciplinary movement has taken several different directions. The Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences conference mentioned above promoted a process form of transdisciplinarity that not only transcended disciplinary boundaries, but also the boundary between the scientific establishment on the one hand and the users of the results of scientific research on the other hand.

Users include government agencies, businesses, non-profit organizations, and members of the general public. Since all of these groups are stakeholders in the solution of the societal problems that science has an obligation to address, they should all be present at the table in the research process.

In other words, according to the Swiss School, the purpose of transdisciplinary research is to seek and facilitate the implementation of solutions for societal problems, such as violence, poverty, global warming, etcetera, that serve the common good Pohl and Hadorn Another European school of transdisciplinarity is centered around Basarab Nicolescu, a French academic.

On the relationship between interdisciplinarity and scientific impact

His group is organized around the International Center for Transdisciplinary Research. The movement's objective is the achievement of the totality of meaning across all the sciences, art, religion, and cultural perspectives.

That endeavor involves the search for relations and isomorphisms across all realms. The French School's epistemology is explicitly non-Aristotelian in that it wishes to go beyond lineal and binary logic. They recognize different levels of reality in which different modes of understanding prevail. They start with the differences between classical physics and quantum physics, between reason and intuition, between information and consciousness, and between linear and non-linear logics.

Non-linear logic is explained as the unity of oppositions, the inclusion of the excluded middle, and the evolutionary process of ever more comprehensive syntheses. However, he does not see any of it in the social sciences. He sees economics as the most retrogressive and therefore one of the biggest obstacles to a unified, spiritually evolved, sustainable future Both approaches are strong critics of the excessive reliance on rationality and analytic reductionism, as well as of the fragmented specialization of the structure of knowledge.

The location of cultural studies at the interface of the humanities and the social sciences enables its practitioners to bring together their different concepts of culture and then to add the additional dimension of everyday meanings and practices present among the broader population. It is generally agreed that the institutional origin of cultural studies was at Birmingham University in The founders had an anti-establishment orientation informed by Italian neo-Marxist Antonio Gramsci and French poststructuralist Michel Foucault.

When cultural studies diffused to the United States, the field lost some of its political agenda; however, it retained its emphasis on popular culture.

Numerous academic fields are identified as contributing to cultural studies, including cultural anthropology, textual criticism, art and social history, linguistics, sociology, aural and visual culture, philosophy of science, political economy, communication studies, psychology, feminism, etcetera.

Consequences Advocating explicitly for interdisciplinary approaches in a discipline-controlled environment can be risky. It can be politically risky for administrative units and personally risky for faculty, especially for junior faculty. Interdisciplinary approaches do have implications for the structure and politics of knowledge. They have implications for international relations, especially if the study of international relations is considered an interdisciplinary field.

A recent publication assessing the field came to this conclusion: In the United Kingdom, however, the field of international relations is more often treated as a separate discipline Waever How the field is conceptualized and institutionalized does have implications for its intellectual strategies, the identities of its practitioners, and its access to resources, both on and off campus.

It matters in teaching and research not only by what is cut off, but what is encouraged. Nevertheless, American political scientists are firmly committed to keeping international relations within their fold. A recent doctoral dissertation tells the tale of how in the political science department at the University of Pennsylvania Penn successfully absorbed the multidisciplinary graduate program in international relations.

Even though the author of the dissertation, Frank Plantan, uses the language of interdisciplinarity, he does not employ the conceptual distinctions presented above. That is partly because the graduate program of international relations at Penn was just a multidisciplinary collection of volunteer faculty members from ten different departments with no separate, dedicated financial support. By centering his analysis on the Penn case study, Plantan limits the operational meaning of interdisciplinary to this loose arrangement of multidisciplinary specialists, an unstable and vulnerable setup.

Yet in his discussion of the intellectual development of the field he mentions several integrating strategies that have crossdisciplinary and even transdisciplinary qualities. His examples include realism, functionalism, behavioralism, neoliberal institutionalism, rational choice, and constructivism, among others.

However, in his historical analysis Plantan sees these theoretical perspectives as ideas to fight over rather than as integrating strategies. In his experience the competitive departmental environment triumphed over interdisciplinary cooperation. His sense of interdisciplinary research is borrowing across disciplinary boundaries, both importing and exporting, but especially exporting Axelrod The task force, led by John Aldrich of Duke University, issued a book-length report in entitled Interdisciplinarity: Its Role in a Discipline-Based Academy.

Their starting point is the existing disciplinary structure in the university. Interdisciplinary work begins with faculty who are prepared with accumulated deep knowledge in a discipline. The authors of the report do distinguish between multi- and interdisciplinary approaches in that the latter involves some integration across disciplines, but none of the other distinctions discussed above are addressed.

In order to insure that none of this interdisciplinary teaching and research endangers the institutional power of the conventional disciplines, they place a major emphasis on discipline-based peer review. Interdisciplinarians would find this reasoning self-serving at the very least.

After all, one of the main reasons for engaging in truly innovative interdisciplinary activity is to break free of the narrow, restrictive, and presumably inadequate contexts of the established disciplines. This report gives several examples, but the most comprehensive is the case of climate change.

Research on this complex and vital issue involves 10, scientists in 80 countries from more than 20 disciplines, including agricultural scientists, archeologists, atmospheric chemists, biologists, climatologists, ecologists, economists, environmental historians, geographers, geologists, hydrologists, mathematicians, meteorologists, plant physiologists, political scientists, oceanographers, remote sensing scientists, and sociologists Committee on Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research and the Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy The established disciplines have been attacked by the poststructuralists for being Eurocentric, sexist, racist, pseudo-objective, status quo-protective, and structured in a way that is disconnected from reality.

To this group of critics both the ontologies and epistemologies of the conventional structure of knowledge are unacceptable Moran Paradoxically, some of the academics who espouse these views have managed to find an institutionalized niche in the university in departments or centers of cultural studies, ethnic studies, postcolonial studies, women's studies, etcetera.

However, in the process of institutionalization, they seem to have followed the advice of the Political Science Task Force Report: Evidently, the generic interdisciplinary departments were perceived by the established departments as the most threatening as well as the most vulnerable. As a consequence, whenever conventional departments found sympathetic administrators they embarked on a campaign for their abolition. The Political Science Task Force Report also describes how the discipline-based peer-review process works in the federal grant-making process, the largest source of extramural funding in the United States.

The National Science Foundation NSF is probably organized the most pervasively around the conventional or established disciplines. Therefore, disciplinary criteria are used to evaluate most grant proposals submitted to the NSF. There are small programs within NSF that seem to facilitate interdisciplinary projects: Though the National Endowment for the Humanities NEH is organized functionally, its reviewing process also relies largely on disciplinary faculty and their criteria for quality.

Federal funding agencies reflect and respect disciplinary boundaries, though they do seek ways to attack new problems through interdisciplinary efforts Aldrich et al. However, the ostensibly integrative interdisciplinary projects they fund frequently end up as merely multidisciplinary. They reason that, since disciplinary boundaries are so amorphous and so frequently permeated, maintaining these distinctions is artificial and inhibitive of creativity in research Bruun et al. However, ignoring disciplinary boundaries and their associated departmental bureaucracy seems not only unrealistic about the confining power of the disciplinary structure of knowledge but also politically naive as well.

A further interesting dimension of the interdisciplinary domain involves the crossdisciplinary fields represented by the sections of the International Studies Association ISA.

on the relationship between interdisciplinarity and scientific impact

For instance, how exactly does the field of international relations relate to, incorporate, or get transformed by security studies, peace studies, or women's studies?

For years the leadership of the ISA seemed to just presume, despite the organization's claim to multidisciplinarity, that all the section program chairs could gather at the annual Political Science Convention in order to review the draft program of the upcoming ISA Convention. The implicit assumption in this past procedure was that all ISA members were political scientists, which always struck this author as contradictory to the organization's own mission statement.