Cross-Disciplinary Research

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What is cross-disciplinary research?

Cross-disciplinary research refers to research and creative practices that involve two or more academic disciplines. These activities may range from those that simply place disciplinary insights side by-side to much more integrative or transformative approaches. The term encompasses the following approaches: 

  • Multidisciplinary research is informed by different disciplinary perspectives and methods, which are brought together to address a common problem or issue.
  • Interdisciplinary research is based upon a conceptual model that integrates theoretical frameworks from different disciplines. It uses study design and methodology that is not limited to any one field, and it requires the use of perspectives and skills of the involved disciplines throughout multiple phases of the research process.
  • Transdisciplinary research is defined as research efforts conducted by investigators from different disciplines working jointly to create new conceptual, theoretical, methodological and translational innovations that integrate and move beyond discipline-specific approaches to address a common problem or issue.

(Adapted from hsph.harvard.edu)


Why does cross-disciplinary research matter?

  • Provides an understanding of complex social challenges and community responses to issues such as climate change, migration, poverty, mass incarceration and addiction that require a multifaceted approach to solve
  • Combines disciplinary breadth with the ability to collaborate and synthesize varying expertise
  • Enables researchers to reach a wider audience and communicate diverse viewpoints
  • Encourages researchers to confront questions that traditional disciplines do not ask while opening up new areas of research
  • Promotes disciplinary self-awareness about methods and creative practices