Evidence: A Case Study of Interdisciplinarity

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Evidence: A Case Study of Interdisciplinarity

Disciplinary Boundaries

There is a growing recognition of the value of interdisciplinary research proposals. What is understood by "interdisciplinary", however, needs further clarification in order that different research cultures, epistemologies and practices can critically engage with one another to more effect. Disciplinary boundaries can provide a block to communication due to the different assumptions, practices, languages and cultures of the different disciplines. Alternatively, projects which separate out the different disciplinary contributions into separate teams and tasks can fail to optimise the potential for critical debate between the disciplines represented. Such separation can lead to ‘bolt on’ solutions to research problems.

In practice, the problem arises that work across disciplinary boundaries often takes place without any distinction being made between such very different approaches. Consequently, opportunities for effective collaboration across disciplinary boundaries are rarely realised.

These different approaches have been theorised in terms of transdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches to knowledge production, although the terms are often used interchangeably.

TRANSDISCIPLINARITY
puts the emphasis on groups getting together to focus on problems. Here the life of the group (or research community) is co-extensive with, and limited to, the work on addressing the problem.

MULTIDISCIPLINARITY
views knowledge from different disciplines as consisting of the addition of different disciplinary expertise, often associated with a view of knowledge as a commodity that is relatively theory free, value free and local. The term ‘non-disciplinarity ‘ is also used to describe such an approach and its roots are often traced back to Lyotard’s concept of postmodernity and his claim that the ‘metanarratives’ of disciplinary knowledge are no longer relevant.

INTERDISCIPLINARITY
places the emphasis upon the ways in which insights from one discipline may challenge the assumptions and practices of another.

Date Title First Author
Publication Type
01/07/2006 Medical humanities within the enquiring university, paper presented to the first annual conference of the Australian Association of Medical Humanities, Byron Bay, Australia, 27-29 July. Stephen Rowland Working paper
01/10/2006 The Enquiring University, Maidenhead, McGraw Hill Stephen Rowland Published paper / book
(No date) Rationality and the Young Child Stephen Rowland Other
19/04/2007 The Integrity of Academic Enquiry: A Keynote Speech for Policies and Practices for Academic Enquiry: An International Colloquium Stephen Rowland Other

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