ISF 189: Thesis Prep

How is interdisciplinary research different?

How can you do truly interdisciplinary research, when most research sources are discipline-specific? Most of us learn to do research within a discipline, but you need to become adequate in multiple disciplines for this course.

  • Determine which disciplinary methods you will use- to know WHERE to search and how to use what you find.


    • Look in a specialized encyclopedia to get background information on research methods for a specific discipline.  For an econ related topic, you could use An encyclopedia of macroeconomics.
  • Become conversant with the terminology of all relevant disciplines- to know HOW to search [i.e., which words to use as search terms]


  • Understand what kinds of sources are considered legitimate by those disciplines- to know WHAT to search for.


    • specialized encyclopedia will probably have an essay on methods of research that will explain what sources are appropriate.

  • Learn what kinds of research questions are valid in the disciplines you are working with.


    • Reading other research articles in the discipline is the best way to learn about what questions are considered valid.

Find specialized encyclopedias for your disciplines:

  1. Open Oskicat
  2. Type encyclopedias and a word or phrase describing your topic, such as development
  3. See what comes up.
  4. If that doesn't work, try typing handbooks and a word or phrase describing your topic such as organizational behavior
  5. If that doesn't work, ask a librarian.

Read more about doing interdisciplinary research.  An excellent book is Interdisciplinary Research: Process and Theory by Allen Repko

Last Update: December 20, 2012 12:07