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Interdisciplinary Research

Interdisciplinary Research
Process and Theory

Fourth Edition

January 2020 | 384 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Interdisciplinary Research: Process and Theory offers a comprehensive, systematic presentation of the interdisciplinary decision-making process by drawing on student and professional work from the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and applied fields.

Designed for active learning and problem-based approaches, the Fourth Edition includes expanded discussion of epistemology; creativity within the interdisciplinary research process; confirmation bias and social media; the philosophy of integration; student work patterns, mapping, and the importance of performing independent research while working through this book. 

Part I About Interdisciplinary Studies and Disciplines
1. Introducing Interdisciplinary Studies
Chapter 1 Learning Outcomes

Chapter 1 Objectives

Defining Interdisciplinary Studies

The Intellectual Essence of Interdisciplinarity

Distinguishing Interdisciplinarity From Multidisciplinarity, Transdisciplinarity, and Integrative Studies

Chapter Summary



2. Introducing the Disciplines and Their Perspectives
Chapter 2 Learning Outcomes

Chapter 2 Objectives

Defining Disciplinary Perspective

How Knowledge Is Typically Reflected in the Organization of the Academy

Categories of Disciplines

Disciplinary Perspectives

Unpacking the Defining Elements of a Discipline’s Perspective

Chapter Summary



Part II Drawing on Disciplinary Insights
3. Beginning the Research Process
Chapter 3 Learning Outcomes

Chapter 3 Objectives

The Integrated Model of the Interdisciplinary Research Process

Key Characteristics of Interdisciplinary Research

STEP 1: Define the Problem or State the Research Question

STEP 2: Justify Using an Interdisciplinary Approach

Chapter Summary



4. Identifying Relevant Disciplines
Chapter 4 Learning Outcomes

Chapter 4 Objectives

Select Potentially Relevant Disciplines

Map the Problem to Reveal Its Disciplinary Parts

Reduce the Number of Potentially Relevant Disciplines to Those That Are Most Relevant

Chapter Summary



5. Conducting the Literature Search
Chapter 5 Learning Outcomes

Chapter 5 Objectives

Meaning of Literature Search

Reasons for Conducting the Literature Search

Special Challenges Confronting Interdisciplinarians

The Initial Literature Search

The Full-Scale Literature Search

Chapter Summary



6. Developing Adequacy in Relevant Disciplines
Chapter 6 Learning Outcomes

Chapter 6 Objectives

The Meaning of Adequacy

Develop Adequacy in Theories

Develop Adequacy in Disciplinary Methods

Use and Evaluate Disciplinary Methods in Basic Research

Provide In-Text Evidence of Disciplinary Adequacy

Chapter Summary



7. Analyzing the Problem and Evaluating Insights
Chapter 7 Learning Outcomes

Chapter 7 Objectives

Analyze the Problem From Each Discipline’s Perspective

Evaluate the Insights Produced by Each Discipline

Checklist for Evaluating Previous Research

Chapter Summary



Part III Integrating Insights
8. Understanding Integration
Chapter 8 Learning Outcomes

Chapter 8 Objectives

What Interdisciplinary Integration Is

The Controversy Concerning Integration

Integration in the Broad Model

Questions Raised by This Discussion of Integration

Chapter Summary



9. Identifying Conflicts Among Insights and Their Sources
Chapter 9 Learning Outcomes

Chapter 9 Objectives

Identify Conflicting Insights

Locate Sources of Conflict Among Insights

Communicate Your Research to the Appropriate Audience

Chapter Summary


10. Creating Common Ground Among Insights: Concepts and/or Assumptions
Chapter 10 Learning Outcomes

Chapter 10 Objectives

About Interdisciplinary Common Ground

Create Common Ground Among Conflicting Concepts and/or Assumptions

Chapter Summary



11. Creating Common Ground Among Insights: Theories
Chapter 11 Learning Outcomes

Chapter 11 Objectives

Defining Disciplinary Theory

Models, Variables, Concepts, and Causal Relationships

Create Common Ground Among Theories

When Theories Differ Only Minimally

Chapter Summary



12. Constructing a More Comprehensive Understanding or Theory
Chapter 12 Learning Outcomes

Chapter 12 Objectives

Definition of “More Comprehensive Understanding”

Construct the More Comprehensive Understanding From Modified Concepts and/or Assumptions

Construct a More Comprehensive Theory From a Modified Theory

Chapter Summary



13. Reflecting on, Testing, and Communicating the Understanding or Theory
Chapter 13 Learning Outcomes

Chapter 13 Objectives

Reflect on the More Comprehensive Understanding or Theory

Test the Quality of Interdisciplinary Work

Test the More Comprehensive Understanding

Communicate the Results of Integration

Chapter Summary



Key features
  • Extended discussion on how to choose and develop a research question; how to describe interdisciplinary education in job interviews; policy side-effects; metacognition; understanding scholarship as a conversation; addressing conflicts students face in their daily lives; and the importance of persuasion.
  • Chapter-opening guiding questions that help the student understand the purpose of the chapter.
  • Additional detail on the strategies associated with several STEPS in the research process.
  • Enhanced discussion of ethical decision-making that helps students understand how to cope with ethical disagreements in complex issues facing contemporary society.
  • A discussion of strategic creativity that gives students knowledge of a skill highly sought by potential employers.


  • An easy-to-follow, decision-making framework called STEPS makes an integrative study comprehensible and achievable for students.
  • Chapters covering the 10 STEPS in the interdisciplinary research process aid students in mastering the material by applying it to their own research.
  • Examples of student and professional work illustrate the STEPS of the interdisciplinary research process that readers will relate to.
  • Theoretical grounding in the tenets of interdisciplinary studies provides the foundation for research design and the inquiry process.
  • A Note to Readers on each STEP explains the relevance to undergraduates, graduate students, practitioners, and interdisciplinary teams.
  • Exercises at the end of each chapter reflect the outline of the chapter and challenge students to analyze concepts rather than simply recall information.

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ISBN: 9781544398600