The Measurement of 'Interdisciplinarity' and 'Synergy' in Scientific and Extra-Scientific Collaborations

26 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2020 Last revised: 22 May 2020

See all articles by Loet Leydesdorff

Loet Leydesdorff

University of Amsterdam - Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR)

Inga Ivanova

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Date Written: May 17, 2020

Abstract

Problem-solving often requires crossing boundaries, such as those between disciplines. In collaborations with third parties, however, “interdisciplinarity” is not necessarily an objective in itself, but can be a means for creating “synergy.” When policy-makers call for interdisciplinarity,” they often mean “synergy.” However, the measurement of “synergy” requires a methodology very different from the measurement of “interdisciplinarity.” Synergy is generated when the whole offers more possibilities than the sum of its parts. We discuss recent advances in the operationalization and measurement of “interdisciplinarity” and propose a methodology for measuring “synergy.” An increase in the number of options above the sum of the options in subsets can be measured as redundancy; that is, the number of not-yet-realized options. Increasing redundancy reduces the relative uncertainty; for example, in niches. The operationalization of the two concepts — “interdisciplinarity” and “synergy”— as different outcome indicators enables us to distinguish between the effects and the effectiveness of interventions in research priorities.

Keywords: Interdisciplinarity, Synergy, Niche, Redundancy, Reduction of Uncertainty, Measurement

Suggested Citation

Leydesdorff, Loet and Ivanova, Inga, The Measurement of 'Interdisciplinarity' and 'Synergy' in Scientific and Extra-Scientific Collaborations (May 17, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3560339 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3560339

Loet Leydesdorff (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam - Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) ( email )

PO Box 15793
Amsterdam, 1001 NG
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://www.leydesdorff.net

Inga Ivanova

National Research University Higher School of Economics ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

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