Collaborating beyond disciplinary boundaries

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This chapter reports on the impact of one of the many transitions currently reconfiguring the academic landscape, namely interdisciplinary approaches to research. Due to financial constraints, most universities and major funding agencies in the UK (and beyond) encourage, and increasingly expect, collaborations across disciplinary boundaries, simultaneously breaking down existing disciplinary silos; however, the impact of these changes remains largely unexplored (Choi & Schnurr 2014).I draw on an on-going large-scale research study that follows several interdisciplinary teams over the life cycle of a research project. To date, more than 400 hours of authentic interactions have been recorded, including large team meetings, as well as smaller (interdisciplinary) PhD supervision meetings. The overall aim of the project is to explore the ways in which interdisciplinary engagement is reflected at the micro-level of interaction: How do team members from different disciplines work together successfully by drawing on their expert knowledge? Using a subsection of the larger corpus, this chapter aims to identify and describe some of the discursive processes used by team members including the ways in which opposing viewpoints and approaches are negotiated within the group.Preliminary analyses suggest that in these interdisciplinary teams hierarchical ranking has less relevance than subject expertise. As a consequence, knowledge exchange and generation takes place dynamically, involving senior as well as relatively junior team members. Nevertheless, disciplinary orientations also feature. This boundary crossing has been described by Repko (2008: 22) as ‘the process of moving across knowledge formations for the purpose of achieving an enlarged understanding’. Here, I show how this is only one aspect of a more complex phenomenon with important relational implications.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNegotiating Boundaries at Work
Subtitle of host publicationTalking and Transitions
EditorsJo Angouri, Janet Holmes, Meredith Marra
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
ISBN (Print)9781474403139
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 May 2017

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Interdisciplinary research
  • collaboration
  • interdisciplinary research meeting


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