Integration lies at the heart of inter- and transdisciplinarity. Klein & Newell (1996) call it the “acid test” of interdisciplinarity, and Pohl, van Kerkhoff, Hirsch Hadorn, & Bammer (2008) consider it “the core methodology underpinning the transdisciplinary research process.”
What exactly, though, is integration?
This blog post answers that question while identifying key resources.
As a community of interdisciplinary practice we need to share our collective knowledge on how funders, researchers and wider research partners can work together for better outcomes to address pressing societal challenges.
Funding interdisciplinary research: improving practices and processes
Seven key challenges to funding interdisciplinary research include:
No agreed criteria defining ‘excellence’ in interdisciplinary research.
Poor agreement of the benefits and costs of interdisciplinary ways of working.
No agreement on how much or what kind of additional funding support is required for interdisciplinary research.
No consensus on terminology.
No clearly delineated college of peers from which to select appropriate reviewers.
A key topic across disciplines is the authentic engagement and participation of key stakeholders in developing and guiding innovations to solve problems. Complex systems consist of dense webs of relationships where individual stakeholders self-organize through interactions. Research demonstrates that successful uptake of innovations requires genuine and meaningful interaction among researchers, service providers, policy makers, consumers, and other key stakeholders. Implementation efforts must address the various needs of these stakeholders. However, these efforts are described differently across disciplines and contexts – co-design, co-production, co-creation, and co-construction.
Developing consensus on terminology and meanings will facilitate future research and application of “co” concepts.
In a recent special issue of the journal Nature on interdisciplinarity (17 September 2015, p313-315), Rick Rylance criticised “arcane debates about whether research is inter-, multi-, trans-, cross- or post-disciplinary”, opining “I find this faintly theological hair-splitting unhelpful.” Does he have a point?