Social Reactor by Gabe Garcia

The North American research landscape is increasingly recognizing the value of interdisciplinary, collaborative work. But how do researchers from differing backgrounds practically engage one another?

A new paper takes an empirical approach to interdisciplinary science, drawing on case studies of collaborative research networks from SFI, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. Authors Veronica Boix Mansilla, Michele Lamont, and Kyoko Sato propose “a construct that captures the multidimensional character of such collaborations,” which take place in a cognitive, emotional, and interactional space that the researchers themselves develop. 

"It is interesting to note how successful institutions not only stress a shared cognitive foundation, but a supportive emotional environment," says SFI President David Krakauer of the study.

From its founding in 1984, SFI has encouraged collaboration across scientific fields as a way to pursue the big questions that transcend isolated disciplines. The new study recognizes SFI among the “most renowned North American promoters of interdisciplinary research that has had a considerable impact on numerous fields.” 

In the paper, the authors identify markers of success and institutional conditions that create success in the observed research networks.

Read the paper on (November 18, 2015)