Interdisciplinary Research

As mentioned in our previous blog the report on UoA 34 mentions that Art & Design (UoA 34) proved itself as a leader in interdisciplinary research. In REF 2014 interdisciplinarity emerged as a distinct and a growing phenomenon, particularly within areas of product and digital design, film, curatorship, media studies, conceptual and performance based art practice.

An interesting point for reflection is that although Art & Design (UoA 34) did feature a significant volume of interdisciplinary research it was not identified as such by the submitting HEIs.

Professor Judith Petts, Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive, University of Plymouth distinguishes several important factors that can impede or encourage interdisciplinary research. Please refer to HEFCE blog for the full article.

The policy landscape
  • Interdisciplinary outputs in REF 2014 were rated equally well to mono- disciplinary ones
  • Despite the fact that the academic community values interdisciplinary research, many would not advise an early-career researcher to participate before they had established their own disciplinary credentials.
Working away from home
  • Working away from your discipline can be somewhat uncomfortable
General complexities

related to:

  • a large team working across different sites, organisations or sectors; or
  • funders and publishers guiding and sourcing reviewers with the skills and diversity of understanding to ensure robust and effective peer review of interdisciplinary proposals and work
  • Culture and structure of the academic organisations
Opportunities

There is a real opportunity to promote the research landscape that delivers and facilitates interdisciplinary research that addresses complex socio-economic and more global challenges.

Read more below about interdisciplinarity in Stern review and in HEFCE consultation 

Stern review  recommended that universities should produce more interdisciplinary and collaborative research to increase creativity and impact of research, and to be in a better position to address complex, intrinsically difficult ‘Grand Challenges’ of global importance. HEFCE consultation proposes the following in order to encourage interdiscpilinarity in REF 2021:

  • Appointment of interdisciplinary ‘champions’ on the sub-panels: each sub-panel would ensure one of the appointed members has interdisciplinary expertise.
  • Mandating the ‘interdisciplinary identifier’ field on the submission system
  • Explicit interdisciplinary section in the environment template

 

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