Investigating Interdisciplinary Practice: Methodological Challenges (Workshop, Helsinki, 15-17 June 2015)

Investigating Interdisciplinary Practice: Methodological Challenges
Workshop: 15-17 June 2015 | Helsinki (Finland)

Academy of Finland Center of Excellence in the Philosophy of the Social Sciences (TINT)
University of Helsinki

Call for Papers

Interdisciplinarity is one of the most prominent ideas driving science policy today. It is applied widely as a conception of what particularly creative and socially relevant science should consist of, whether natural or social science. For the last 40 years researchers have built up a substantial body of literature constructing various visions of what interdisciplinarity should be like. Until recently, however, there has been little concern for how it is practiced in distinct research settings and fields. This brings to the fore the need to pay particular attention to the methodological and conceptual resources required to investigate and understand interdisciplinary research in action.

Interdisciplinarity in science is often highly situated, distributed, and dynamic. It takes many forms and varieties, from occasional transfer of models and methods across disciplinary boundaries to the resources of one field being used for criticizing convictions in another. Interdisciplinarity may also be a matter of intensive ongoing collaboration solving complex problems with novel approaches. This type of collaboration requires negotiation of epistemic standards, trust and reliability, the coordination of expertise, and the distribution of tasks. Interdisciplinarity is thus a multidimensional and multi-scale phenomenon involving a rich interplay of established and novel scientific methodologies, expert and social cognition, disciplinary preferences and values, historical relationships, and institutional and policy frameworks.

Sociology, anthropology, statistics, history, cognitive science, philosophy, economics, etc. bring with them a variety of methodological approaches for analyzing interdisciplinary practice. Each affords an understanding of particular facets and instances of this practice, its history and cultural underpinnings.

We invite contributions that introduce, discuss, and reflect upon distinct methodological perspectives – both empirical and theoretical – on interdisciplinarity in science. Examples are analytic, ethnographic, social epistemological, scientometric, discourse analytic, and historical perspectives. The papers should demonstrate the affordances and challenges of the respective approaches by relating them to specific cases.

The central objectives of our Workshop are:

  • To create an awareness for affordances and limitations of the respective approaches.
  • To explore opportunities for combining approaches toward developing a more comprehensive understanding of interdisciplinary practice in its different configurations and characteristics.

The Workshop will bring together scholars from the broad range of humanities and social sciences studying scientific practice and culture. A selection of the Workshop papers will be published as a special issue of a major journal and/or an edited volume.

Invited Speakers and Topics:

  • Mitchell Ash, University of Vienna: Interdisciplinarity in Historical Perspective
  • Sabine Maasen, TU Munich: Looking at Interdisciplinarity from a Discourse Analytical Perspective: Im/possible, Ir/resistible, In/feasible?
  • Nancy Nersessian, Harvard University: Interdisciplinarity on the Benchtop: Cognitive Ethnography of Research Laboratory Practices
  • Ismael Rafols, Ingenio (CSIC-UPV), València: Mapping Interdisciplinary Research Using Sciento­metric Tools: Methods, Potential Insights, and Pitfalls

Deadline for submission: 15 January 2015. Notification expected by the end of February 2015. Please prepare a 300-400 word abstract for anonymous review. Submissions by EasyChair website.

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