[Fis] “Interdisciplinarity” and “Synergy” in Scientific and Extra-Scientific Collaborations; preprint

Loet Leydesdorff loet at leydesdorff.net
Fri Jun 21 08:03:05 CEST 2019

  The Measurement of “Interdisciplinarity” and “Synergy”   
in Scientific and Extra-Scientific Collaborations 

Problem-solving often requires crossing boundaries, such as those 
between disciplines. In collaborations with third parties, however, 
“interdisciplinarity” is not an objective in itself, but a means for 
creating “synergy.” Synergy means that the whole offers more 
possibilities than the sum of its parts. We discuss recent advances in 
the operationalization and measurement of “synergy” and 
“interdisciplinarity”; the measurements require precision in the 
definitions. First, one can consider “interdisciplinarity” as composed 
of variety, diversity, and disparity (Stirling, 2007). The recently 
developed diversity indicator DIV* improves on previous 
operationalizations by measuring these three dimensions independently. 
Although policy-makers often call for “interdisciplinarity,” they may 
mean “synergy.” The measurement of “synergy,” however, requires a 
different methodology. 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 as different outcome indicators enables us to 
distinguish analytically between the effects and the effectiveness of 
government or management interventions in research priorities.

Loet Leydesdorff,[1] <#_ftn1>* and Inga Ivanova[2] <#_ftn2>

** apologies for cross-postings
[1] <#_ftnref1> *corresponding author; Amsterdam School of Communication 
Research (ASCoR), University of Amsterdam, PO Box 15793, 1001 NG 
Amsterdam, The Netherlands; loet en leydesdorff.net ; ORCID: 

[2] <#_ftnref2> Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of 
Knowledge,National Research University Higher School of Economics (NRU 
HSE), 20 Myasnitskaya St., Moscow, 101000, Russia; and School of 
Economics and Management, Far Eastern Federal University, 8, Sukhanova 
St., Vladivostok 690990, Russia; inga.iva en mail.ru ; ORCID: 

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