Frameworks for integrating interdisciplinary research

Title: Frameworks for integrating interdisciplinary research
Format: Journal Article
Publication Date: 1979
Published In: Research Policy
Description: Interdisciplinary research can be defined by the presence of substantive, internalized linkages among component analyses. Three levels of integration of component analyses are defined. The weakest is associated with multidisciplinary research in which components stand on their own. Integration here involves editorial organization, consistent terminology, and concordant concepts. The strongest level involves a shared, over-arching theoretical framework which welds components into a unit. Most interdisciplinary research can realistically aspire only to an intermediate level of integration wherein disciplinary components serve as substantive inputs to each other. Attainment of well-integrated interdisciplinary research is a complex task. This study identifies four frameworks useful in integration based on a probe of 24 technology assessments. Common group learning generates a common intellectual property belonging to the research group. It yields well-integrated research, but often at the cost of a loss of depth of analysis. Formal modeling can structure interrelationships, and, thereby, serve as an integrating framework. Modeling is most applicable to well-specified problems, but it can contribute, in conjunction with other frameworks, to broader, policy-oriented studies as well. Negotiation among experts takes place at the common boundaries between component analyses as these substantively affect each other's findings. It preserves the full depth of expertise and can be used in broad-ranging studies. Integration by the project leader establishes one person as the sole repository of composite knowledge, obtained through one-to-one interactions with assorted experts. It is not well-suited to interdisciplinary research, except in small-scale studies. © 1979.
Ivan Allen College Contributors:
Citation: Research Policy. 8. Issue 1. 70 - 79. ISSN 0048-7333. DOI 10.1016/0048-7333(79)90030-1.
Related Departments:
  • School of Public Policy