Interdisciplinarity: How to Catalyse Collaboration. Brown, R. R.; Deletic, A.; and Wong, T. H. F. 525(7569):315–317.
Interdisciplinarity: How to Catalyse Collaboration [link]Paper  doi  abstract   bibtex   
Turn the fraught flirtation between the social and biophysical sciences into fruitful partnerships with these five principles, urge Rebekah R. Brown, Ana Deletic and Tony H. F. Wong. [Excerpt] An urgent push to bridge the divide between the biophysical and the social sciences is crucial. It is the only way to drive global sustainable development that delivers social inclusion, environmental sustainability and economic prosperity1. Sustainability is the classic 'wicked' problem, characterized by poorly defined requirements, unclear boundaries and contested causes that no single agency or discipline is able to address. [\n] It is crucial to understand, then, why so many well-meaning attempts at interdisciplinary collaboration fail to deliver tangible outcomes – and why others succeed. Here we offer an unapologetically personal answer by reflecting on how, working across multiple faculties of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, we have built a team of disciplinary experts that delivers integrated and sustainable water management across multiple cities. [\n] We have now grown this interdisciplinary team to incorporate other institutions nationally and internationally. At the same time, we acknowledge that substantial transaction costs come with interdisciplinary research – it takes extra time and effort to make it work. [\n] [...] [Ways to promote interdisciplinary research] [::Funders] [::] Manage funding from an interdisciplinary perspective while reinforcing research impact. Discipline-based agencies must form joint funding programmes. [::] Panels should include a balance of experts from the social and biophysical sciences, with a strong appreciation of other disciplines. It is also useful to include end-users of the research (for example, practioners and policymakers). [::] Calls for funding should request balance between disciplines and prefer teams that have a proven record of collaboration. Publication in applicants' own disciplines should be essential; publishing in other disciplines is desirable. [::Institutions] [::] Introduce key performance indicators that promote T-shaped researchers. For example, include qualitative measures of impact on policy and practice, as well as conventional academic indices. [::] Identify institutional research strengths that show potential for interdisciplinary collaboration and incentivize it through seed grants. [::] Reduce transaction costs: for example, through summer schools to develop constructive dialogue skills. Provide platforms – seminars, research workshops, debating competitions – to discuss challenges in cross-disciplinary research and offer insights into the norms and cultures of other disciplines. Co-locate researchers from different disciplines who work on the same grand challenges. [::] Invest in interdisciplinary PhD cohorts, co-supervised by academics from diverse departments or faculties. [::Publishers] [::] Invest in and create high-quality interdisciplinary journals, managed by editorial teams or boards of T-shaped researchers. [::] Run special issues in high-impact, single-discipline journals that focus on interdisciplinary research. [::] Peer reviewers should assess work using their disciplinary expertise, while being tasked to be open to innovations across disciplines. [::Researchers] [::] Build stamina, patience and self-awareness to manage the long journey of establishing a productive interdisciplinary team. [::] Put your best ideas forward even if they are unfinished, and be open to alternative perspectives from other disciplines, policymakers, industry practitioners and community members. [::] Prioritize depth early on, and embrace breadth by building relationships with those from other fields and practices.
@article{brownInterdisciplinarityHowCatalyse2015,
  title = {Interdisciplinarity: How to Catalyse Collaboration},
  author = {Brown, Rebekah R. and Deletic, Ana and Wong, Tony H. F.},
  date = {2015-09},
  journaltitle = {Nature},
  volume = {525},
  pages = {315--317},
  issn = {0028-0836},
  doi = {10.1038/525315a},
  url = {https://doi.org/10.1038/525315a},
  abstract = {Turn the fraught flirtation between the social and biophysical sciences into fruitful partnerships with these five principles, urge Rebekah R. Brown, Ana Deletic and Tony H. F. Wong.

[Excerpt] An urgent push to bridge the divide between the biophysical and the social sciences is crucial. It is the only way to drive global sustainable development that delivers social inclusion, environmental sustainability and economic prosperity1. Sustainability is the classic 'wicked' problem, characterized by poorly defined requirements, unclear boundaries and contested causes that no single agency or discipline is able to address.

[\textbackslash n] It is crucial to understand, then, why so many well-meaning attempts at interdisciplinary collaboration fail to deliver tangible outcomes -- and why others succeed. Here we offer an unapologetically personal answer by reflecting on how, working across multiple faculties of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, we have built a team of disciplinary experts that delivers integrated and sustainable water management across multiple cities.

[\textbackslash n] We have now grown this interdisciplinary team to incorporate other institutions nationally and internationally. At the same time, we acknowledge that substantial transaction costs come with interdisciplinary research -- it takes extra time and effort to make it work.

[\textbackslash n] [...]

[Ways to promote interdisciplinary research]

[::Funders]

[::] Manage funding from an interdisciplinary perspective while reinforcing research impact. Discipline-based agencies must form joint funding programmes. [::] Panels should include a balance of experts from the social and biophysical sciences, with a strong appreciation of other disciplines. It is also useful to include end-users of the research (for example, practioners and policymakers). [::] Calls for funding should request balance between disciplines and prefer teams that have a proven record of collaboration. Publication in applicants' own disciplines should be essential; publishing in other disciplines is desirable.

[::Institutions]

[::] Introduce key performance indicators that promote T-shaped researchers. For example, include qualitative measures of impact on policy and practice, as well as conventional academic indices. [::] Identify institutional research strengths that show potential for interdisciplinary collaboration and incentivize it through seed grants. [::] Reduce transaction costs: for example, through summer schools to develop constructive dialogue skills. Provide platforms -- seminars, research workshops, debating competitions -- to discuss challenges in cross-disciplinary research and offer insights into the norms and cultures of other disciplines. Co-locate researchers from different disciplines who work on the same grand challenges. [::] Invest in interdisciplinary PhD cohorts, co-supervised by academics from diverse departments or faculties.

[::Publishers]

[::] Invest in and create high-quality interdisciplinary journals, managed by editorial teams or boards of T-shaped researchers. [::] Run special issues in high-impact, single-discipline journals that focus on interdisciplinary research. [::] Peer reviewers should assess work using their disciplinary expertise, while being tasked to be open to innovations across disciplines.

[::Researchers]

[::] Build stamina, patience and self-awareness to manage the long journey of establishing a productive interdisciplinary team. [::] Put your best ideas forward even if they are unfinished, and be open to alternative perspectives from other disciplines, policymakers, industry practitioners and community members. [::] Prioritize depth early on, and embrace breadth by building relationships with those from other fields and practices.},
  keywords = {*imported-from-citeulike-INRMM,~INRMM-MiD:c-13768932,~to-add-doi-URL,cooperation,cross-disciplinary-perspective,integration-techniques,interdisciplinary-research,research-funding,research-management,research-metrics,transboundary-effects,transdisciplinary-research},
  number = {7569}
}
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