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Enhancing interdisciplinary science with philosophy

NSF Award:

Improving Communication in Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration  (University of Idaho)

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Interdisciplinary scientific research poses substantial challenges. To be done effectively, it is necessary to integrate scientific cultures that differ in profound ways; they often use different methods, work in dissimilar theoretical frameworks, and have distant overarching goals.  Researchers who study communication processes have found that interdisciplinary collaborators can improve mutual understanding and communication through structured philosophical discussions about how they practice science.

Researchers from Michigan State University, the University of Idaho, Boise State University and the University of Alaska, Anchorage, have developed a research-based "toolbox" approach with the goal of enhancing integrative communication and collaboration among interdisciplinary scientific teams. This approach uses a philosophically informed survey to guide dialogue among collaborators in a workshop setting. The research team designed three different survey instruments and conducted more than 100 toolbox workshops in three countries. The data gathered has improved our understanding of cognition and communication in interdisciplinary scientific teams.


  • interdisciplinary science grows stronger through structured discussions about how each practices science
Interdisciplinary science benefits from structured discussions about how each discipline performs science. krishnan

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