This week’s #ECRchat was hosted by Charlotte Mathieson, a research fellow at the University of Warwick’s Institute of Advanced Study. Charlotte is on Twitter @cemathieson and blogs about her research into nineteenth-century literature here.
The topic of this week’s chat was interdisciplinary research, addressing the challenges faced by early career researchers undertaking interdisciplinary research either as individuals or as part of a research team. We had a small but diverse group of ECRs for this chat, and the discussion picked out some interesting common challenges – we also had lots of sub-threads of conversation emerge, and I have tried to reflect this in the Storify of the chat.
The main issue that the chat drew out were the difficulties of publishing interdisciplinary research – appropriately enough, as it was in fact a tweet about my own difficulties in finding a suitable outlet for some interdisciplinary research that first prompted the idea of holding an ECRchat on this very topic. The discussion usefully highlighted that it isn’t just a matter of where to publish, but also the issue of finding a common language that works across disciplines. We talked about various ways of dealing with this, most important being to start with the audience in mind and write the research accordingly, rather than trying to tweak existing writing to fit. Other ways of overcoming language and terminology difficulties included collaboration with colleagues in other fields, via conferences, social media, and so on.
I also asked everyone what they saw to be the main advantage of interdisciplinary research: getting fresh perspectives, learning from different areas of expertise, and expanding research possibilities all came up. Hazel also raised the important issue that current global problems demand interdisciplinary responses – something that chimes well with some of the interdisciplinary initiatives going on here at Warwick.
We didn’t address everything, and some out-standing issues at the end of the chat included: job applications – how far is too far outside your field?; working within vs across institutions; and methodology challenges.
Finally, I collected a few of the resources mentioned in the chat:
- This interdisciplinary wiki contains lots of reading on interdisciplinary challenges
- A blog post from Pat Thompson on reading outside of your area
- Warwick’s Wolfson Research Exchange has plenty of articles on interdisciplinarity written by our researchers
I found this chat raised some interesting issues and hope that others did too!
The next chat is on 28th February and there are plenty of spaces for hosts in the coming weeks, so get in touch with Katie or Hazel if you’d like to host your own chat. Having now hosted 2 chats, I can say it really is very easy and not too time consuming to host – all you need is a few questions and the chatters do the rest! It’s also been an enjoyable way to further expand my twitter networks in new directions, and meet even more interesting ECR folk across the globe.
Thanks to Katie and Hazel for having me host again!