Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New report offers recommendations to spur interdisciplinary research

22.11.2004


Advances in science and engineering increasingly require the collaboration of scholars from various fields. This shift is driven by the urgent need to address complex problems that cut across traditional disciplines, and the capacity of new technologies to both transform existing disciplines and generate new ones. At the same time, however, interdisciplinary research is impeded at many institutions by policies on hiring, promotion, tenure, and resource allocation that favor traditional disciplines, says a new report from the National Academies.



"This report identifies steps that individuals and institutions can take to more effectively conduct, facilitate, and evaluate interdisciplinary research programs and projects," said Nancy Andreasen, co-chair of the committee that wrote the report, Andrew H. Woods Chair of Psychiatry, University of Iowa, Iowa City, and director, The MIND Institute, Albuquerque, N.M.

The committee urged academic institutions to explore new models that foster and reward interdisciplinary interactions. Industrial and national laboratories have traditionally operated successful interdisciplinary programs because their research goals are established and pursued in terms of projects rather than by discipline. Teams of researchers from various fields are formed to solve particular problems, an approach that stimulates interdisciplinary interactions.


Academic institutions also should revise recruitment and hiring practices to reach across departments, placing greater emphasis on people with valuable interdisciplinary backgrounds; promotion criteria should include methods to evaluate interdisciplinary faculty and programs as well. The committee concluded that the process by which institutions evaluate interdisciplinary research programs is often imperfect. The peer-review process for both people and programs should include researchers with interdisciplinary expertise, in addition to experts in single disciplines. Also, greater flexibility in resource allocation is often needed to serve the needs of these programs.

The report’s recommendations are not targeted solely to academic institutions. "Our objective is to stimulate interdisciplinary research, so we offer suggestions for everyone who plays a key role in the research process, including students, postdoctoral scholars, researchers, educators, funding organizations, professional societies, and journal editors," said committee co-chair Theodore Brown, founding director emeritus, Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Funding organizations can enhance their evaluations of interdisciplinary research programs and projects, the report adds. In particular, the review process should include scientists and engineers with interdisciplinary expertise, along with experts in discrete disciplines.

Journal editors, the committee said, should actively encourage the publication of interdisciplinary research results through various mechanisms -- for example, by including researchers with interdisciplinary experience on editorial boards, and by establishing special interdisciplinary issues or sections.

Professional societies could serve as incubators for generating and facilitating interdisciplinary programs and projects. These organizations could produce intersociety reports on cutting-edge research developments, offer opportunities for researchers from different fields to interact, publish interdisciplinary journals, and recognize excellence in interdisciplinary research, the committee said.

The report calls on undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to actively seek out interdisciplinary experiences, and to pursue training and study in one or more fields in addition to their own. Junior researchers also should take advantage of networking opportunities and identify mentors favorable to interdisciplinary research. Faculty members who hire postdoctoral researchers from other fields should assume responsibility for educating them in the new specialty and also take the initiative to learn about the postdocs’ expertise.

The study was sponsored by the National Academies Keck FUTURES INITIATIVE, which was launched in 2003 to stimulate new modes of scientific inquiry and break down the conceptual and institutional barriers to interdisciplinary research. Additional information on the study may be found at http://national-academies.org/interdisciplinary. A committee roster follows.

The National Academies comprise the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council. They are private, nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology, and health policy advice under a congressional charter.

Vanee Vines | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nas.edu

More articles from Interdisciplinary Research:

nachricht Investigating cell membranes: researchers develop a substance mimicking a vital membrane component
25.05.2018 | Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

nachricht New approach: Researchers succeed in directly labelling and detecting an important RNA modification
30.04.2018 | Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

All articles from Interdisciplinary Research >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>