Researchers often receive contrasting incentives when conducting their work. On the one hand, an interdisciplinary approach is required to produce scientific advances and access to funding. On the other, academic scholarships and evaluation mechanisms are still organized following the criteria of traditional disciplinary fields. If pursuing interdisciplinary research results in contrasting outcomes, science may face an interdisciplinarity dilemma: should researchers pursue their own private interests to build a reputation? Or should they endeavor towards public interest? How costly in terms of reputation is to choose interdisciplinarity research (IDR) over (more) specialized research? We answer these questions by exploiting data on 23,926 articles published by 6,105 researchers affiliated with the University of Florida in the period 2008–2013. Through individual fixed-effect, we compare articles of the same scholar to roll out the influence of individual characteristics on the scientific impact of their research. We find that the diverse dimensions of IDR (Variety, Balance, and Disparity) have a different effect on the reputation of a scholar and on her contribution to societal research. We confirm the existence of trade-off between private and public interest. We also point out that the increase of IDR aiming at connecting distant disciplines reduces the usefulness of the resulting knowledge. Results are robust to various specifications and apply to all scholars, regardless of their gender, collaboration behavior, discipline, and performance. These findings pose challenging questions to policymakers.

The interdisciplinarity dilemma: Public versus private interests

Iori M.
;
2022

Abstract

Researchers often receive contrasting incentives when conducting their work. On the one hand, an interdisciplinary approach is required to produce scientific advances and access to funding. On the other, academic scholarships and evaluation mechanisms are still organized following the criteria of traditional disciplinary fields. If pursuing interdisciplinary research results in contrasting outcomes, science may face an interdisciplinarity dilemma: should researchers pursue their own private interests to build a reputation? Or should they endeavor towards public interest? How costly in terms of reputation is to choose interdisciplinarity research (IDR) over (more) specialized research? We answer these questions by exploiting data on 23,926 articles published by 6,105 researchers affiliated with the University of Florida in the period 2008–2013. Through individual fixed-effect, we compare articles of the same scholar to roll out the influence of individual characteristics on the scientific impact of their research. We find that the diverse dimensions of IDR (Variety, Balance, and Disparity) have a different effect on the reputation of a scholar and on her contribution to societal research. We confirm the existence of trade-off between private and public interest. We also point out that the increase of IDR aiming at connecting distant disciplines reduces the usefulness of the resulting knowledge. Results are robust to various specifications and apply to all scholars, regardless of their gender, collaboration behavior, discipline, and performance. These findings pose challenging questions to policymakers.
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
Fontana_Iori_LeoneSciabolazza_Souza_WP_LEM_2021-34.pdf

solo utenti autorizzati

Descrizione: working paper/pre-print
Tipologia: Documento in Pre-print
Licenza: Non specificato
Dimensione 1.08 MB
Formato Adobe PDF
1.08 MB Adobe PDF   Visualizza/Apri   Richiedi una copia

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11382/550112
 Attenzione

Attenzione! I dati visualizzati non sono stati sottoposti a validazione da parte dell'ateneo

Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus 0
social impact