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Whether you are just beginning to branch out into interdisciplinary research or you’re comfortable exploring other disciplines, this kind of research is becoming more widely practised throughout the University. No matter what stage of your interdisciplinary project you’re at, Edinburgh Research Office is there to help. Here Jonathan Rans, Strategic Research Executive, shares the new online resources that are now available to support interdisciplinary research across the University. 

“Your research interests may lie in expanding the boundaries of your own discipline. You may be inspired by exploring the impact that your own skills can have in unfamiliar academic areas. Or you may find motivation in working on intractable grand challenges that demand expertise from many perspectives to untangle. In all of these scenarios, and more, an interdisciplinary approach to the research can cut through the issues that a more focused methodology is unable to.

A close up of gloved hands using a lab instrument

“Increasingly, this is being addressed by funders, partly through the explicit use of challenge funding schemes, like the Global Challenges Research Fund and the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, and partly through strategy, recognising challenge areas as priorities for funding, as the recent Wellcome Science review did with infectious disease, mental health and global heating. UK Research and Innovation encourages multi- and interdisciplinary research via calls that cut across several of its constituent councils.

“Recognising that this is a complex area of research and one which often starts as a result of luck and opportunity rather than conscious design, we have compiled an interdisciplinary toolkit to help support your interdisciplinary research journey, whichever stage you are at.”

The resources have been collected depending on level of experience with interdisciplinary research.A close up of test tubes in a laboratory

New to interdisciplinary research

For those new to interdisciplinary research there is an introductory guide, self-reflection exercises and reading lists of materials to give you a grounding in the theory and practice of interdisciplinarity.

Building interdisciplinary research into your career

For those thinking of how they might build interdisciplinarity into their career, there are case studies of academics who have done it, including the first in a series focusing on the careers of University of Edinburgh interdisciplinary researchers.

Developing an interdisciplinary project

For those of you who are in the process of developing an interdisciplinary project, there are resources to help you plan and manage your research, ensuring that project partners are meaningfully integrated and able to contribute at all stages. When it comes time to write a bid for funding, there are examples of previously successful applications from University academics for interdisciplinary projects. There is also a library resource list of publications on interdisciplinary studies which you can reference in your application.

Resources for research leaders

There are also landscape reports, strategic guides and policy examples for researchers with leadership roles and responsibility for nurturing interdisciplinarity in research units, like centres, networks or thematic clusters.

View all interdisciplinary research resources on our Edinburgh Research Office Insights and Intelligence SharePoint site.

Jonathan concludes: “This is a living resource, and will grow over time as more is added. We are always open to suggestions of ways in which we can improve what we provide – feel free to drop me a line with any suggestions or questions.”

This was originally published on Edinburgh Research Office’s blog.