Three Problems of Interdisciplinarity

Avant, Vol. XIII, No. 1,
published under license CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Yvan I. Russell orcid-id
Middlesex University London

Received 16 March 2022; accepted 17 June 2022; published 9 August 2022.
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Abstract: Interdisciplinarity is widely promulgated as beneficial to science and society. However, there are three quite serious problems which can limit the success of any interdisciplinary research collaboration. The first problem is expertise (it takes years of effort to cultivate a deep knowledge of even one discipline). The second problem is comprehensibility (experts in different disciplines do not reliably understand each other). The third problem is service (in a given interdisciplinary endeavour, it often occurs that one discipline benefits and the other discipline does not benefit). This essay is an elaboration of these three problems. Parallels are drawn between translation between languages and translation between disciplines.

Keywords: interdisciplinary; collaboration; research; expertise; academia


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