Workshop 3: The impact of interdisciplinary research

Spring 2023, hosted by Pantelis Analytis

Danish Institute for Advanced Study (DIAS), University of Southern Denmark, Odense

Interdisciplinary research has often been praised for its potential to advance our scientific understanding by (re)-combining knowledge and resources that are otherwise latent within individual disciplines (e.g., Fontana et al. 2020). Yet how can interdisciplinarity and its impact be measured? Over the last decades several concepts and measures of interdisciplinarity have been introduced, leveraging notions of diversity or atypicality of a contribution’s content that can be computed by assessing the conceptual distance between keywords and tags used by journals or libraries (e.g. Brohmann et al. 2016) or by calculating the statistics or combinatorics of the forward citations (contributions referred to in a paper) of individual papers (e.g. Uzzi et al. 2013). 

Is interdisciplinary research more impactful? Traditionally, the impact of different contributions has been assessed by counting their backward citations and past work comparing the citation impact of interdisciplinary research, as compared with less interdisciplinary or novel approaches, has reported mixed results (Levitt and Thelwall, 2008; Lariviere et al. 2015). The mere number of citations, however, might not fully reflect quality and impact of research contributions, and especially interdisciplinary ones. Βut how else can we measure impact? More recent approaches go beyond citation counts suggesting to analyze not only the size but also the type of impact of different contributions. For example, Wu et al. (2019) suggest categorizing contributions as constructive vs. disruptive by measuring the overlap between the references of forward citations of a paper and the paper itself. In this workshop, we aspire to contribute to the study of interdisciplinary by discussing the types of impact of interdisciplinary research and potentially proposing novel, more inclusive ways of measuring the features of interdisciplinary research and their impact. 

The workshop will be held at the Danish Institute for Advanced Study (DIAS), an elite research center at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU). DIAS’ mission is to encourage and support curiosity-driven research in fields of science and humanities, and thereby unlock new revolutionary ideas.