Building interdisciplinary capacity for responsible research and innovation: the Interdisciplinary Translation initiative
Andi Hess (Arizona State University)
Paper short abstract:
Interdisciplinarity is often proposed as a method for bringing more voices into “The Room Where it Happens.” This paper compares existing approaches for interdisciplinary team science and proposes a new method, Interdisciplinary Translation, for increasing the effectiveness of interdisciplinary teams.
Paper long abstract:
Through the inclusion and integration of multiple diverse perspectives, interdisciplinarity is often thought to address some issues related to responsible research and innovation (RRI), specifically the complexity of grand social challenges and the production of science in the service of society, by bringing more voices into “The Room Where it Happens.” However, team science is a high-risk, high reward endeavor, and achieving effective integration can be challenging. Long-entrenched disciplinary and institutional power structures limit the ability of research teams to successfully produce integrative outcomes. External forces and pressures constrain which ideas, methods, and objectives are open for discussion and debate at any point in the team research process. Interdisciplinary facilitation and translation methodologies, explicitly built in to all areas of a project, can mediate the influences of existing power structures and allow research teams to collaborate more successfully. The literature suggests a need for approaches to enhance the effectiveness of such interdisciplinary meetings and endeavors. Fisher (2015) identified four categories of socio-technical integration approaches according to the method used for addressing the values and capacities of the team. Drawing on the typology proposed by Fisher, this paper first examines the strengths and weaknesses of two existing approaches for enhancing socio-technical integration and interdisciplinary team science. Finally, I propose a new method, interdisciplinary translation, aimed at increasing the effectiveness of interdisciplinary teams by actively facilitating the translation of disciplinary languages in research settings.
The room where it happens: inclusion, exclusion and power in STS research and practice