Impacts of an interdisciplinary research center on participant publication and collaboration patterns: A case study of the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthes

Interdisciplinary research centers are typically viewed as a vehicle for creating opportunities in science where the intricacy of the research problem calls for persistent collaboration across multiple disciplines. This case study analyzed the effects of an interdisciplinary research center on the publication and collaboration behaviors of faculty affiliated with the center. The study also sought to determine through faculty interviews what factors contributed to these effects for participants whose publication and collaboration behaviors were most changed after affiliation. Results of the study indicate that affiliation with the center has a significant positive effect on participant collaboration activities, and a moderate positive effect on publication activities (i.e. publishing in new fields). Factors contributing to success cited by interviewees included organized leadership, a positive atmosphere, breaking into sub-groups, and the ability to collaborate with researchers with whom they would not have interacted outside of the center. This case study may be useful in providing a framework for early evaluation of the effects of interdisciplinary research centers on affiliated participants.

Author(s): Pamela R Bishop, Schuyler W Huck, Bonnie H Ownley, Jennifer K Richards and Gary J Skolits
Organization(s): University of Tennessee
Source: Research Evaluation
Year: 2014

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