Motivations for doing Interdisciplinary Research: Results from an Australian Qualitative Study

By Bradley Shrimpton and Brad Astbury.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

While the literature provides a strong conceptual justification for Interdisciplinary Research (for example: Klein 1990, 1996; Sherif & Sherif, 1969) and a number of studies document the benefits and challenges of such studies (such as: Slatin, Galizzi, Melillo & Mawn 2004; Rhoten, 2004; Lynch 2006; Jacobs & Frickel 2009), there are surprisingly few empirical analyses of the reasons why individual researchers become involved in Interdisciplinary Research projects. Responding to this gap in the extant literature, the current study was undertaken to identify individual influences and motivations for participating in Interdisciplinary Research projects. In this paper we report findings that emerged from 30 interviews with researchers from a wide range of disciplines, as well as different stage of career, on the major reasons why they are drawn to Interdisciplinary Research. As part of the paper we also report the extent to which participants agreed or disagreed with a variety of pitfalls identified in the literature as potential impediments or deterrents to individuals becoming involved in Interdisciplinary studies.

Keywords: Interdisciplinary, Multidisciplinary, Motives, Influences, Barriers

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp.195-206. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 793.957KB).

Bradley Shrimpton

Lecturer, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Bradley Shrimpton is a Lecturer with the Centre for Program Evaluation, the University of Melbourne. Bradley has worked on a wide range of research and evaluation projects including: the evaluation of public sector mental health programs; federally funded research examining social values in health economics; the evaluation of adult and youth focused educational multimedia and websites; and the development of strategies for supporting the education of young people with Tourette Syndrome. His current lecturing duties for the University of Melbourne include postgraduate courses in qualitative research methods and program evaluation. Bradley has received two national awards for his evaluation work - the 2005 Australasian Evaluation Society ‘Community Development Award’, and 2007 Australasian Evaluation Society ‘Emerging New Talent Award’. His recent publications have appeared in the Evaluation Journal of Australasia, Australian and New Zealand Health Policy and Journal of Health Care Analysis.

Brad Astbury

Research Fellow, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Brad Astbury is a Research Fellow in the Centre for Program Evaluation, Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne where he lectures within the Masters of Evaluation course. Brad has conducted applied social research in a number of areas, including corrections, education, health promotion, and various family and community service interventions. Many of these projects have been informed by a realist, theory-driven approach, and included the application of mixed methods. His current work includes a two-year evaluation of positive behaviour support interventions in schools, a review of school drug education programs, research on interdisciplinary practice among scientists, and a study examining the use innovative technologies to enhance dissemination and up-take of research evidence.


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