Who Said Interdisciplinary Research was Fun? Revisiting the Differences Between the Two Cultures

Dr Sally Shortall,
Dr Ruth McAreavey
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There is an increasing emphasis on interdisciplinary research, driven by research councils and policy formulators. Part of this emphasis includes bringing a diverse ‘interdisciplinary’ array of stakeholder or user groups into the research and policy formation process. This paper explores this growing trend. It acknowledges the many positive features of interdisciplinary research and the engagement of user groups. It also critically analyzes the difficulties with interdisciplinary research. It examines disciplinary snobbery, the two different cultures of natural and social sciences, problems of communication, lack of understanding and respect for different methodologies, and difficulties of valuing outputs. Evidence from a research project with heavy involvement of user groups, and co-ordination of an inter-disciplinary research bid will be used to explore these questions.

Keywords: Interdisciplinary Research, Theoretical and Methodological Differences Disciplinary Disrespect
Stream: Sociology and Geography, Research Methodologies, Quantitative and Qualitative Methods, Other or Stream Unspecified
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Dr Sally Shortall

Director, Gibson Institute for Land, Food and Environment, Queen's University Belfast
Belfast, Antrim, UK

Dr. Sally Shortall was appointed Director of the Gibson Institute in Queen’s University Belfast in 2004. Before that she was a reader in sociology at Queen’s University Belfast. Her main research interests are rural development policy, social changes in farming practice and the role of women on farms and in rural development. She has been invited to speak on these issues internationally, including invitations from the European Commission, the FAO, and North American organisations. She has published widely on these topics over the past ten years, including a special issue of Sociologia Ruralis (2004) on rural social exclusion and a book published by Macmillan Press titled Women and Farming: Property and Power (1999).

Dr Ruth McAreavey

Research Manager, Gibson Institute for Land, Food and Environment, Queen's University Belfast
Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK

Dr. Ruth McAreavey came to Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) in 2002. Dr McAreavey was awarded her PhD in 2005 from The Centre of Rural Economy, University of Newcastle, England in 2005. Since her time in QUB she has undertaken a number of roles including Research Support and Framework 6 Project Manager. Currently she is Research Manager in the Gibson Institute for Land Food and Environment. Her research interests and areas of publication include rural development and regeneration, community development, rural partnerships, voluntary sector funding, community involvement and participation.

Ref: I06P0178