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Fostering interdisciplinary research in universities: A case study of leadership, alignment and support


Townsend, T and Pisapia, J and Razzaq, J, Fostering interdisciplinary research in universities: A case study of leadership, alignment and support, Studies in Higher Education, 40, (4) pp. 658-675. ISSN 0307-5079 (2013) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2013 Society for Research into Higher Education

DOI: doi:10.1080/03075079.2013.842218


The aim of this paper is to describe actions designed to foster interdisciplinary research efforts at a major university in the UK. The study employed a descriptive mixed method case study approach to collecting and analysing the data used to draw its conclusions. One hundred and twenty-seven academic staff responded to the survey. The results of the survey were verified by 25 interviews with heads of colleges, heads of schools, research coordinators, research team leaders, and team members. These interviews were supported by document review to support the findings. Leadership is important at the college and university levels if interdisciplinarity is to thrive. According to the data, this seems to have not yet occurred at this particular institution. The university has done well with most of the big structures that enrich and support interdisciplinarity. However, ‘small’ structures such as clarity of meaning, motivation of staff, misalignment of old structures, time and workload, and loss of identify have impeded the move to university wide interdisciplinarity. A series of three recommendations are made to move the interdisciplinary project forward: stay clear on focus, extend the benefits of serendipity to more people, and remember that one size does not fit all

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:restructuring; multidisciplinary research; interdisciplinary research; leadership; social networks
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Other education
Research Field:Other education not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Other education and training
Objective Field:Other education and training not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Townsend, T (Professor Tony Townsend)
ID Code:94591
Year Published:2013
Web of Science® Times Cited:30
Deposited By:Education
Deposited On:2014-09-12
Last Modified:2017-05-08

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