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Universities Are Pressed on Interdisciplinary Research

Report: “Convergence: Facilitating Transdisciplinary Integration of Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, Engineering, and Beyond”

Organization: National Research Council

Summary: The report, more than 120 pages long, looks at the value of interdisciplinary research and the obstacles to making it a more regular occurrence in university labs. It was crafted by a panel of more than two dozen experts, mostly with university affiliations. Their analysis points out the various administrative structures, faculty-recruitment and -promotion practices, cost-recovery models, and research-support policies that hinder interdisciplinary research. The recommendations consist largely of exhortations for the institutions and the agencies that finance research to recognize those obstacles and work to reduce or eliminate them.

Bottom Line: As with many products of the National Academies, the report is a thorough chronicling of a state of affairs accompanied by a call for action on a problem that already is generally well recognized.

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