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

JASIST, in print

32 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2020 Last revised: 28 Aug 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: August 23, 2020

Abstract

JASIST (in print)

Problem-solving often requires crossing boundaries, such as those between disciplines. When policy-makers call for “interdisciplinarity,” however, they often mean “synergy.” Synergy is generated when the whole offers more possibilities than the sum of its parts. 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. The number of options available to an innovation system for realization can be as decisive for the system’s survival as the historically already-realized innovations. Unlike “interdisciplinarity,” “synergy” can also be generated in sectorial or geographical collaborations. The measurement of “synergy,” however, requires a methodology different from the measurement of “interdisciplinarity.” In this study, we discuss recent advances in the operationalization and measurement of “interdisciplinarity,” and propose a methodology for measuring “synergy” based on information theory. The sharing of meanings attributed to information from different perspectives can increase redundancy. Increasing redundancy reduces the relative uncertainty; for example, in niches. The operationalization of the two concepts—”interdisciplinarity” and “synergy”—as different and partly overlapping indicators allows for distinguishing between the effects and the effectiveness of science-policy 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 (August 23, 2020). JASIST, in print, 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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