Grand Challenges and Emergent Modes of Convergence Science
46 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2021
Date Written: October 10, 2020
In order to address complex problems, scholars are increasingly faced with challenges of integrating diverse knowledge domains. We analyzed the evolution of this convergence paradigm in the broad ecosystem of brain science, which provides a real-time testbed for evaluating two modes of cross-domain integration -- subject area exploration via expansive learning and cross-disciplinary collaboration among domain experts. Our results show that research involving both modes features a 16\% citation premium relative to a mono-disciplinary baseline. However, research utilizing cross-domain subject area exploration alone -- a convergence shortcut -- is less effective at integrating domains, markedly less impactful and yet to produce breakthroughs, despite growing faster than alternative cross-disciplinary modes. This counterproductive pattern may derive from internetization of expansive learning approaches to problem solving and the competitive pressures deriving from the current era of global flagship funding initiatives. Without additional policy support, such flagship initiates may unintentionally incentivize convergence science shortcuts that undercut the role of domain expertise in challenges calling upon convergent problem solving.
Keywords: science policy, science funding, convergence science, cross-disciplinary, team assembly, diversity, Human Brain Project
JEL Classification: O52, O51, O53, O31, O32, F02, C33, Q55, D85
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