What makes interdisciplinarity work? Crossing academic boundaries in real life, Durham
July 11, 2015

About project

Research conducted with Micha Bojanowski (PI) and Wojciech Fenrich in project 'Dynamics of Competition and Collaboration in Science: Individual Strategies, Collaboration Networks, and Organizational Hierarchies' at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Mathematical and Computational Modelling (ICM) at the University of Warsaw funded by National Science Center.

Indroduction

  • Sociology and social network analysis

  • Projest about collaboration and competiton among scholars

  • Collaboration in interdisciplinaty networks

Social organization of science

  • Scientists compete and collaborate on various dimensions.
    • Doing research together
    • Compete for funding
    • Training
  • The 'latent' networks and diffusion of technology, skills, information, and knowledge.

Collaboration vs Coauthorship

General research questions

  • What are the structures of scientific teams?
  • What are the factors influencing the structure of team collaboration networks?
    • Scientific discipline/interdisciplinarity
    • Location (center vs periphery)
    • Scientific degree/career stage of a team leader
    • Gender
    • Research team management and network strategies
    • Ongoing institutional reform

Specific research questions

  • Is it similar for interdisciplinary teams?

  • Are there significant differences in the network structures of monodisciplinary and interdisciplinary teams?

  • Can we distinct different network strategies among interdisciplinaty teams?

  • How do network structures and network strategies influence individual success and team resilience?

Mixed methods design

Qualitative data collection and analysis

First qualitative study:

  • Semi-structured IDI
  • 30 interviews - 1/3 with interdisciplinary scholars
  • 4 academic centers: two major and two peripheral
  • Scholars with diverse professional experience

Reconstructing team collaboration networks of respondents

What have we learned so far about the network structures?

Close collaborators

  • Power relations depend on leader's gender.
  • Not important:
    • Discipline/interdisciplinarity
    • Location
    • Department rank
    • Gender

What have we learned so far about the network structures?

Full ego-networks

  • Being able to control resources gives independence from institutional hierarchies.
  • Similar structures in different disciplines.
  • Internal collaboration more frequent in peripheral centers.
    • Unless team leader has prior international experience
  • Different network strategies of team leaders.
  • Alter-alter ties: visible effects of different network strategies of team leaders.

Interdiscyplinary scholars have more developed and more complex collaboration networks

The importance of weak ties.

How does it all begin? - First interdisciplinary research

PhD vs mature scholars

The auxiliary factors:

  • Mentorship
  • Unique set of skills
  • Shortcomings in methods, techniques
  • Looking for research niche
  • Funding opportunities

Legend to graphs

'Born' interdisciplinary

  • Start working in interdisciplinary research during PhD
  • Proper mentorship
  • Learn social skills and cross-disciplinary communication
  • Particular research interests - advanced measurements techniques

Mature scholars - Resources, social capital, and the network structures

  • Mobilizing social capital
    • Do scholars need it?
    • How do they mobilize it?

Mature scholars - Institutional settings

  • High mobility

  • Lack of shared interests with institutional colleagues

  • Different network strategies

Building the resilient networks

  • Looking for supplementary competences

  • Resilient teams of close collaborators are embedded in the broader collaboration network

Building the resilient networks

  • Looking for supplementary competences

  • Resilient teams of close collaborators are embedded in the broader collaboration network

Questions

Can you be 'socialized' to interdisciplinary research? If so, when should it be done?

What kind of skills does a researcher need to engage in interdisciplinary research?

How to build social capital necessary for interdisciplinary research?

How to create resilient and productive interdisciplinary team?

Does the interdisciplinary team need to be 'plugged into' institutions? What are the consequences of both scenarios?

Contact

Dominika Czerniawska d.czerniawska(at)icm.edu.pl