How Multidisciplinary are the Multidisciplinary Journals Science and Nature?

Interest in cross-disciplinary research knowledge interchange runs high. Review processes at funding agencies, such as the U.S. National Science Foundation, consider plans to disseminate research across disciplinary bounds. Publication in the leading multidisciplinary journals, Nature and Science, may signify the epitome of successful interdisciplinary integration of research knowledge and cross-disciplinary dissemination of findings. But how interdisciplinary are they? The journals are multidisciplinary, but do the individual articles themselves draw upon multiple fields of knowledge and does their influence span disciplines? This research compares articles in three fields (Cell Biology, Physical Chemistry, and Cognitive Science) published in a leading disciplinary journal in each field to those published in Nature and Science. We find comparable degrees of interdisciplinary integration and only modest differences in cross-disciplinary diffusion. That said, though the rate of out-of-field diffusion might be comparable, the sheer reach of Nature and Science, indicated by their potent Journal Impact Factors, means that the diffusion of knowledge therein can far exceed that of leading disciplinary journals in some fields (such as Physical Chemistry and Cognitive Science in our samples).


Author(s): Gregg E. A. Solomon , Stephen Carley, and Alan L. Porter
Organization(s): Harvard University, Georgia Institute of Technology
Source: PlosONE
Year: 2016

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