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Interdisciplinary research has consistently lower funding success

Bromham, Lindell; Dinnage, Russell; Hua, Xia

Description

Interdisciplinary research is widely considered a hothouse for innovation, and the only plausible approach to complex problems such as climate change. One barrier to interdisciplinary research is the widespread perception that interdisciplinary projects are less likely to be funded than those with a narrower focus. However, this commonly held belief has been difficult to evaluate objectively, partly because of lack of a comparable, quantitative measure of degree of interdisciplinarity that can...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorBromham, Lindell
dc.contributor.authorDinnage, Russell
dc.contributor.authorHua, Xia
dc.date.accessioned2016-09-20T01:19:41Z
dc.date.available2016-09-20T01:19:41Z
dc.identifier.issn0028-0836
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/108920
dc.description.abstractInterdisciplinary research is widely considered a hothouse for innovation, and the only plausible approach to complex problems such as climate change. One barrier to interdisciplinary research is the widespread perception that interdisciplinary projects are less likely to be funded than those with a narrower focus. However, this commonly held belief has been difficult to evaluate objectively, partly because of lack of a comparable, quantitative measure of degree of interdisciplinarity that can be applied to funding application data. Here we compare the degree to which research proposals span disparate fields by using a biodiversity metric that captures the relative representation of different fields (balance) and their degree of difference (disparity). The Australian Research Council's Discovery Programme provides an ideal test case, because a single annual nationwide competitive grants scheme covers fundamental research in all disciplines, including arts, humanities and sciences. Using data on all 18,476 proposals submitted to the scheme over 5 consecutive years, including successful and unsuccessful applications, we show that the greater the degree of interdisciplinarity, the lower the probability of being funded. The negative impact of interdisciplinarity is significant even when number of collaborators, primary research field and type of institution are taken into account. This is the first broad-scale quantitative assessment of success rates of interdisciplinary research proposals. The interdisciplinary distance metric allows efficient evaluation of trends in research funding, and could be used to identify proposals that require assessment strategies appropriate to interdisciplinary research.
dc.format4 pages
dc.publisherNature Publishing Group
dc.rights© 2016 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature
dc.sourceNature
dc.subjectacademies and institutes
dc.subjectAustralia
dc.subjectauthorship
dc.subjectcooperative behavior
dc.subjectorganised financing
dc.subjecthumanities
dc.subjectinterdisciplinary studies
dc.subjectresearch
dc.subjectresearch support as topic
dc.subjectscience
dc.titleInterdisciplinary research has consistently lower funding success
dc.typeJournal article
local.identifier.citationvolume534
dcterms.dateAccepted2016-05-11
dc.date.issued2016-06-30
local.publisher.urlhttp://www.nature.com/
local.type.statusPublished Version
local.contributor.affiliationBromham, Lindell, Division of Evolution, Ecology & Genetics, CMBE Research School of Biology, The Australian National University
local.contributor.affiliationDinnage, Russell, Division of Evolution, Ecology & Genetics, CMBE Research School of Biology, The Australian National University
local.contributor.affiliationHua, Xia, Division of Evolution, Ecology & Genetics, CMBE Research School of Biology, The Australian National University
local.identifier.essn1476-4687
local.bibliographicCitation.issue7609
local.bibliographicCitation.startpage684
local.bibliographicCitation.lastpage687
local.identifier.doi10.1038/nature18315
dcterms.accessRightsOpen Access
CollectionsANU Research Publications

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