How Audiences Shape the Use of Interdisciplinary Research



Surprisingly, interest and investments in interdisciplinary research (IDR) have persisted over the past decade. Prior research has found that interdisciplinary scholarship has greater impact (as gauged by citations) than more disciplinary scholarship. To better align empirical work with theories of innovation and science policy’s expectations that interdisciplinary scholarship will be transformative, we examine another outcome as well: whether a paper is highly disruptive, shifting focus away from prior work and onto itself, thereby rerouting knowledge streams. The mechanisms that interest us pertain not only to the nature and production of interdisciplinary work (e.g., is it multi-faceted, often led by an epistemically diverse team), but also to the reception of interdisciplinary work by audiences.  Audiences matter, we contend -- especially the degree to which they themselves are interconnected. Applying these ideas to a large sample of U.S.-based scientists and their scholarly papers, we find that more interdisciplinary papers have higher impact and tend to be highly disruptive. As expected, interconnected audiences moderate these main effects: they enhance IDR’s citation advantage but depress its disruptiveness. We discuss implications of these findings for scholarship on science and innovation, and science policy as well.

This seminar will take place at T09-67 (Mandeville Building). Alternatively, please follow the link below to join online via Zoom.

Meeting URL:

Meeting ID: 990 2716 9859

Passcode: 127884