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Outside the Lines

Outside the Lines: Issues in Interdisciplinary Research

Copyright Date: 1996
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Outside the Lines
    Book Description:

    Contributors to this collection address the ways in which interdisciplinarity is defined, positioned, and handled by researchers, universities, and critics, and examine such topics as "myths" of interdisciplinarity, postmodern critiques of interdisciplinarity, interdisciplinarity and research grant allocation, women's studies, Canadian studies, environmental studies, and "emerging" disciplines.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6621-7
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-15)

    Interdisciplinarity is too often associated with intellectual fads and fashions. This view, that interdisciplinary research lacks both substance and good scholarship, is frequently heard in university chambers. Interdisciplinary studies - for example, women’s studies, communications, Latin American and Canadian studies, and even criminology - are seen to be marginal to the scholarly enterprise and to established disciplines such as English, philosophy, or economics. Some go so far as to argue that in times of financial restraint, interdisciplinarity is a luxury that universities can ill afford, and as a result, interdisciplinary studies and research should be relegated to the realm of...

  5. 1 Disciplines
    (pp. 16-25)

    Many writers involved in debates about interdisciplinarity attempt to make distinctions between interdisciplinarity, crossdisciplinarity, multidisciplinarity, pluridisciplinarity, and transdisciplinarity. These particular distinctions do not concern us in this book.¹ We have chosen to put them aside because they imply a stable universe of disciplines that can be combined or integrated in different ways. In this chapter, we want to examine this assumption and question the extent to which the universe of disciplines really is stable. How and from where do disciplines derive their illusion of stability? How is this idea of stability constructed, deployed, and sustained within and outside the academy?...

  6. 2 Interdisciplinarity
    (pp. 26-43)

    Interdisciplinarity has come to occupy a central place in current discussions around knowledge production. And, as we have noted, interdisciplinary practices have come to occupy a significant place in academic research, both as a mode of research and as a requirement for research funding. But there appears to be little conceptual or definitional clarity in the concept of Interdisciplinarity. In the following sections we will draw upon the work of Klein and others to present a brief history of the rise of what is now called interdisciplinarity, an examination of the various ways interdisciplinarity has been defined and deployed in...

  7. 3 The Experience of Interdisciplinarity
    (pp. 44-62)

    Is interdisciplinarity a characteristic of research or is it perhaps more descriptive of the qualities of the researcher? In this chapter, we ask three researchers to comment upon their own work as it illustrates interdisciplinarity. We suspected that interdisciplinarity may have more to do with how these individuals have positioned themselves in relation to their research than with the character, subjects, or methodologies of their research. This view of interdisciplinarity was confirmed in our examination, in the preparation of this book, of applications for funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. The applications chosen for examination included some...

  8. 4 The Practice of Interdisciplinarity
    (pp. 63-92)

    Each of the four contributors in this chapter - John Robinson, Alberto Cambrosio, Jill Vickers, and Barry Truax - has participated in the emergence of something akin to a new discipline, but all argue that their preoccupation with the practical uses of research provided the impetus for their own interdisciplinary orientation. The practical use is different in each case. The contribution of social science to the study and practice of medicine, as described by Cambrosio, is necessarily quite different from the artistic endeavours in the field of computer music described by Truax, or the significance of environmental studies for public...

  9. 5 Bridging Two Cultures
    (pp. 93-117)

    However difficult interdisciplinary research may be within and among the social sciences, it has long been recognized that between the natural and technical sciences, on one side, and the social sciences, on the other, lies something akin to a cultural divide. C.P.Snow coined the phrase “the two cultures.” Were he involved with the funding of research today or with the organization of most modern universities, he would probably still use the phrase. Even among the universities most seriously committed to fostering interdisciplinarity, rarely are the natural and social sciences combined in the same administrative unit.

    We asked three researchers to...

  10. 6 Evaluating Interdisciplinarity
    (pp. 118-135)

    The granting councils in Canada have taken some cautious steps towards bridging the various disciplinary communities and certainly now encourage applications that do so, but this has happened only in the last five years. One such initiative was a program to support research on the environment, which Robinson described briefly in chapter 4. It is worth noting that this program came into being not at the instigation of the granting councils but as one element of a government-wide initiative to support environmental improvement called the Green Plan. Not surprisingly, then, when the government money ceased to be available, the initiative...

  11. 7 Changing the Map
    (pp. 136-157)

    We argued in the introductory chapters that interdisciplinarity raises complex issues, and this complexity has been demonstrated through contributions from twelve researchers. It should now be evident that interdisciplinarity includes a wide variety of differently oriented research, even a variety of research by the same researcher. Eichler and Andrew spoke about the different kinds of interdisciplinarity in their own work; a cursory glance at the publications of other contributors would suggest they are not alone in this respect. Surveying the contributions here, it is also evident that interdisciplinarity arises in quite different situations and that it may even be instigated...

  12. 8 Charting New Territories
    (pp. 158-172)

    In the last chapter, we discussed the challenges posed by interdisciplinarity and their possible effect on researchers previously involved in specific disciplines. We suggested that there are three such challenges: the combination of two or more disciplinary traditions, the creation of new fields of study, and the incorporation of the interdisciplinary critique within the perspectives, methods, or topics of the established disciplines. However, there is another quite different kind of challenge posed by interdisciplinarity which both the concept of disciplines and the essence of the research enterprise attract attention. This second type of challenge, which we discussed extensively in the...

  13. 9 Conclusion
    (pp. 173-184)

    We have chosen to retain the concept of disciplinarity, even as we recognize the divisions within disciplines and the commonalities among them. The separation of knowledge into distinct branches has a pragmatic purpose. Disciplines are characterized by different registers, and their registers create and sustain communities of scholars. In turn, these communities of scholars develop standards to adjudicate research, standards that are necessary, even if they occasionally have the effect of disenfranchising unorthodox approaches, because not all research is equally well-conducted or of similar import. It is very difficult to envision a situation in which all research, regardless of how...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 185-192)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 193-208)
  16. Contributors
    (pp. 209-212)