ANDREA SELL: Hi.My name is Dr. Andrea Sell.I'm an assistant professor of psychologyand the director of the Office of Undergraduate Researchand Creative Scholarship at California Lutheran University.As a cognitive psychologist, my researchinvestigates how people process language, thought, and memory.As the director of the Office of Undergraduate Research,
ANDREA SELL [continued]: I coordinate fellowships for undergraduate researchstudents, I do workshops, and other events on campus.Today I'm going to talk about interdisciplinary research.Interdisciplinary research is researchdone by two or more researchers looking at one researchquestion from different angles and combining these anglesto get a full look at the research question.
ANDREA SELL [continued]: For example, some of my work investigates forgiveness.I look at it from the cognitive perspectivein terms of the different cognitive mechanismswe may use in thinking about forgiveness,whereas my colleagues will help melook at it from a clinical psychology perspective,thinking about forgiveness in termsof what might be necessary from a therapeutic angle.
ANDREA SELL [continued]: Some of the most interesting work that I've doneand that I've seen has been and interdisciplinary in nature.We can make a lot of scientific progressfrom connecting the dots across fields of study.Unfortunately, what gives interdisciplinary researchthese benefits also comes with a set of challenges.Science is done differently in every field.People cite each other differently.
ANDREA SELL [continued]: Authorship is different.Even experimental design differs across fields.In this tutorial, I'll talk about a number of things youand your collaborators can do right from the startto work through some of these challengesbefore they become bigger issues for you and your team.Most of these things I've learnedfrom doing the wrong way, so hopefully these thingswill help you right from the start.
ANDREA SELL [continued]: Let's first start out by talking about howyou can start to see your researchtopic from different perspectivesby seeking out other people to work with on your researchtopic.One of the easiest ways to get startedis to read books by authors in other fields.For example, I could look in the Religion departmentand see if any religious books about forgiveness
ANDREA SELL [continued]: are out there.Most academic publishers, like Sage,have a great website where you can browse by subject.Try putting in your research question keywords.For example, I would put in forgiveness.And search a subject that's other than your own.For example, I might search religion.You'd be surprised at the other disciplinesand how they might look at your question in the same way.
ANDREA SELL [continued]: Another thing you can do is go to talks or symposiumor brown bags that are in other departments than your own.Go to any talk that sounds interesting,and make sure to ask lots of questions.And talk with the researchers that are presenting the talk,but also talk with the audience members.You'd be surprised at the number of people that go to the talksthat may be doing research similar to your ownor that you can connect with on your research topic.
ANDREA SELL [continued]: Once you find other researchers to work with,one of the most important things to keep in mindis communication before the study begins.Remember that different researchers havedifferent ways of doing things.So if you talk about these things before you start,it can actually head off a lot of the issues thatmight come up later.One of the things you and your co-authorsshould talk about before doing the study is authorship.
ANDREA SELL [continued]: Different fields have different ways of assigning authorshipon a manuscript or a paper.For example, psychology usually has a student author and thenthe PI, whereas in other fields, the principal investigatormight come first, and then the student author second.In some fields, like the humanities,single author papers are the way to go,
ANDREA SELL [continued]: and they usually don't have multiple-author papers.Make sure you talk about this with your co-authorsbefore the study starts so that you won'thave misunderstandings later.Another thing to talk to your collaboratorswith before the study starts is scheduling and timelines.Different fields have different ways of doing things,and those things might take longer or shorter times
ANDREA SELL [continued]: depending on the field.For example, if I'm working with someone in biology,they may take six months to get a dataset ready,whereas my data might come through in a week.The same thing might happen with writing.Whereas one field can write relatively quicklyand straightforward, another fieldmight take a long time to write a manuscript.These are things you want to talk about
ANDREA SELL [continued]: before the study starts so everybody is on the same pageand has the same expectations.Another thing to talk about in terms of schedulingis what happens if someone doesn't followthe agreed-upon schedule.If somebody is late or too early with their dataor the manuscript, what do you do?One time I was late on something,and my co-author emailed me the night
ANDREA SELL [continued]: before it was due to remind me.And this was a terrible way to get things done.Instead, have a plan where if somebody thinksthey're going to be late, or if somebody thinksthe other person is going to be late,give the person a warning, maybe three days or a week.Decide on some increment of time where you can check in and say,hey, a deadline is coming up in one week.
ANDREA SELL [continued]: Will you be ready for it?That way, when the week comes due,you'll know this person isn't late or is late,and you can plan for it.Another thing to consider is the final product.Different fields have different types of final productsthat they might want from the research.For example, I might want a manuscriptin a research journal, whereas another field, such as computer
ANDREA SELL [continued]: science, may want a research paper presentedat a conference.These have different weights for different fields in termsof citation style on a resume.Sometimes when you're working with someonein a different field, you may havetwo totally different versions of what the final productshould look like.In this case, sometimes you can take a study and present part
ANDREA SELL [continued]: of it in one forum and part of it in another forum.For example, one research productI might expect from a study is a poster presentationat a conference, whereas my colleague might expect a paperpresentation at a conference.For this, you may be able to divide your study into twodifferent pieces, each presentable separatelyat different conferences.
ANDREA SELL [continued]: Be sure when you're doing this, though,that you don't present the exact same experiment twiceat different conferences unless this is explicitlyallowed by the conference.Another way you can deal with the final productmaybe differing across fields is to findan interdisciplinary conference.For example, one study I did with people in economicsand math and art, we found a conference
ANDREA SELL [continued]: that featured just interdisciplinary work.We were able to present our paper there,and that worked for all of us.Another thing to talk to your collaboratorsabout before the study begins is whatto do when things don't go as planned.For example, what will you do if the experiment fails?Are you going to keep trying, or will you try something else?
ANDREA SELL [continued]: You could decide to try for a certain length of timeor a certain number of trials before beginning a new project.You could also decide to look at it from a different researchdesign.For example, if I were doing a forgiveness study,I might do the kind of design that I would do in cognition.And if that didn't work, maybe I would try a designfrom a different field, such as religion.
ANDREA SELL [continued]: Make sure to decide on this quit point ahead of time.There's nothing more frustrating than continuingto work on a set of experiments that aren't workingwhen your collaborators want you to keep going, or vise versa--when your collaborators want to quit early, but you thinkyou can still get something to work if you try hard enough.One of the benefits of interdisciplinary workis that you're looking at the research question
ANDREA SELL [continued]: from multiple angles and using the strengthsof each discipline in answering that research question.Therefore, it's important to make surethat you're giving yourself time to talk and discussabout the research question.Set aside a time where there's no constraints,there's no goals-- just to chat and discoverand to explore your research question from different angles.This will help some of the creativity and the perspective
ANDREA SELL [continued]: taking that is required in interdisciplinary work.Sometimes we get wrapped up in the proceduresand the scheduling, and we forgetthat the most fun of all of this researchis talking with other people about our research question.
ANDREA SELL [continued]: Make sure you allow plenty of timefor thoughtful discussion of your topicwith your collaborators.As researchers, we can think about complex topicsand find solutions to difficult questions if we work together.However, we must be aware of these differencesacross disciplines and make sure everybodyfeels accommodated and respected in the research process.I hope this tutorial gave you a few things
ANDREA SELL [continued]: to think about when beginning your interdisciplinary work.Good luck.
Publisher: SAGE Publications Ltd
Publication Year: 2018
Segment Num.: 1
Dr. Andrea Sell explains starting a research project with an interdisciplinary team.
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Dr. Andrea Sell explains starting a research project with an interdisciplinary team.