After months of hard work, Nicolas Robinson-García and Pablo D’Este, senior researcher at INGENIO (CSIC-UPV), have just published a new article based on a joint study in which they combine altmetric and bibliometric data with survey data. This new paper is called “Interdisciplinary research and the societal visibility of science: The advantages of spanning multiple and distant scientific fields”
With this research they were able to identify a strong relation between interdisciplinary research and societal visibility of science, which is a positive relationship contingent on academic engagement. They also identified a positive interplay between spanning multiple and distant scientific fields. To do so, they used altmetrics and they carried out an analysis at the individual scientist level using primary and secondary data. For instance, the figure on the left shows two examples of scientists in their sample with high levels of societal visibility.
The abstract of the paper is the following:
Science policy discourse often encourages interdisciplinary research as an approach that enhances the potential of science to produce breakthrough discoveries and solutions to real-world, complex problems. While there is a large body of research examining the relationship between interdisciplinarity and scientific discovery, there is comparatively limited evidence on and understanding of the connection between interdisciplinarity and the generation of scientific findings that address societal problems. Drawing on a large-scale survey, we investigate whether scientists who conduct interdisciplinary research are more likely to generate scientific findings with high societal visibility – that is, research findings that attract the attention of non-academic audiences, as measured by mentions to scientific articles in blogs, news media and policy documents. Our findings provide support for the idea that two facets of interdisciplinarity – variety and disparity – are associated positively with societal visibility. Our results show, also, that the interplay between these two facets of interdisciplinarity has a systematic positive and significant association with societal visibility, suggesting a reinforcing effect of spanning multiple and distant scientific fields. Finally, we find support for the contingent role of scientists’ collaboration with non-academic actors, suggesting that the positive association between interdisciplinary research and societal visibility is particularly strong among scientists who collaborate with actors outside academia. We argue that this study provides useful insights for science policy oriented to fostering the scientific and societal relevance of publicly funded research.
How to reference this article:
D’Este, P., & Robinson-García, N. (2023). Interdisciplinary research and the societal visibility of science: The advantages of spanning multiple and distant scientific fields. Research Policy, 52(2). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2022.104609