By Paul Bolger
One of the most substantial structural changes and investments to support interdisciplinarity within universities has been the widespread establishment of research institutes. Many have made the pursuit of interdisciplinary collaboration a central goal in their research mission. Biancani and colleagues (2014) have likened research institutes to a semi-formal organisation occupying a plane between the formal university and informal research teams. Membership of the semi-formal organisation is voluntary and researchers and groups can flexibly come together for short or long periods and depart when no longer needed.
How do these entities establish collaborative communities, and create the conditions necessary for effective interdisciplinary research?
I suggest there are eight ways research institutes are enabling interdisciplinary research within their organisations and universities, which can also be strengthened in future.