Interdisciplinary research has a price


Two research fields are better than one, unless you want funding, an Australian study published in Nature finds.

The research examining almost 19,000 research proposals submitted to the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Programme found that those with a greater degree of interdisciplinary collaboration faced a lower probability of being funded.

The negative impact of interdisciplinarity was significant even when number of collaborators, primary research field and type of institution were taken into account, reported the research team led by Lindell Bromham from the Research School of Biology at the Australian National University in Canberra.

According to the research team the findings may be due to proposals being assessed by reviewers who are ill-equipped to evaluate all parts of the project.

The average quality of interdisciplinary proposals may not be as high as that of more narrowly focused research, when evaluated with the same measures of success, they added.

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