I am writing this post to explain why I dedicated two years of my life to research in multiple disciplines.
Today’s world problems are complex; and understanding and hopefully solving them requires examination from the perspective of multiple disciplines. Multidisciplinary research moves beyond simple collaboration and teaming. The aim is to integrate data, methodologies, perspectives, and concepts from multiple disciplines in order to solve real world problems. A successful multidisciplinary research requires an individual researcher gains a depth of understanding two or more than two disciplines and be fluent in their languages, culture, methods, and methodologies. During the past two years, I was learning the language and methodology of other disciplines to be able to conduct multidisciplinary research on real world’s problem. For example, I learned how to conduct psychometric studies and systematic review from the field of health. I also learned how to collaborate efficiently from researchers in this field.
We know that many of the tools and innovations that we use are drawn from outside the discipline that developed them; For example, X-rays was discovered by physicists is used in the field of medicine, or see the impact of the Internet that was created by the military on communication in society, even a two-year old kid is using the Internet these days! Also a lot of great science has come from the interactions of researchers from different fields. A good example of this is the discovery of “Magnetic resonance imaging” by a chemist and a physicist — for this they were awarded the 2003 Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine. An independent researcher designing and conducting his/her own separate experiments would never have these opportunities.
Even the Nobel Prize has been criticized recently. Many people believe the Nobel Prize award system which was established in 1895 and recognizes monodisciplinary research is outdated and needs some changes. Some of the greatest scientific discoveries have been achieved through collaboration between disciplines. For example, Watson (a physicist) and Crick (a biologist) together discovered the structure of DNA.
This is the reasons that these days, many choose to pursue a postdoc in a completely different area than their PhDs.
Leeming, J. (2017). Multidisciplinary research: pros and cons, Nature Jobs, http://blogs.nature.com/naturejobs/2017/09/11/multidisciplinary-research-pros-and-cons.
Rizvi, S. (2013). Multidisciplinary approaches to educational research: Case studies from Europe and the developing world. Routledge: New York.
Trewhella, J. (2009). Multidisciplinary research – an essential driver for innovation, GlobalHigherEd, https://globalhighered.wordpress.com/2009/06/26/multidisciplinary-research-an-essential-driver-for-innovation/