The more multidisciplinary the better? : The prevalence and interdisciplinarity of research collaborations in multidisciplinary institutions

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)736-756
Journal / PublicationJournal of Informetrics
Issue number3
Online published6 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


Scientific research is increasingly relying on collaborations to address complex real-world problems. Many researchers, policymakers, and administrators consider a multidisciplinary environment an important factor for fostering research collaborations, especially interdisciplinary ones that involve researchers from different disciplines. However, it remains unknown whether a higher level of multidisciplinarity within an academic institution is associated with internal collaborations that are more prevalent and more interdisciplinary. Analyzing 90,000 publications by 2500 faculty members in over 100 academic institutions from three multidisciplinary areas, information, public policy, and neuroscience, we investigated the connection between multidisciplinarity and research collaborations. Based on social network analysis and text mining, our analysis suggests that more multidisciplinary institutions are not necessarily more collaborative, although they do feature collaborations that are more interdisciplinary. Our findings provide implications for academic administrators and policymakers to promote research collaborations and interdisciplinarity in academic institutions.

Research Area(s)

  • Collaboration, Interdisciplinarity, Multidisciplinarity, Network analysis, Text mining