This guide is intended to give Texas A&M School of Law faculty members, TAMU Law students, and other interested users a brief introduction to the interdisciplinary research resources available from the TAMU Law Library and the TAMU University Libraries in College Station. Free and subscription resources will also be included where relevant.
Interdisciplinary research (IDR) is a mode of research by teams or individuals that integrates information, data, techniques, tools, perspectives, concepts, and/or theories from two or more disciplines or bodies of specialized knowledge to advance fundamental understanding or to solve problems whose solutions are beyond the scope of a single discipline or area of research practice.
IDR is pluralistic in method and focus. It may be conducted by individuals or groups and may be driven by scientific curiosity or practical needs.
Interdisciplinary thinking is rapidly becoming an integral feature of research as a result of four powerful “drivers”: the inherent complexity of nature and society, the desire to explore problems and questions that are not confined to a single discipline, the need to solve societal problems, and the power of new technologies.
Successful interdisciplinary researchers have found ways to integrate and synthesize disciplinary depth with breadth of interests, visions, and skills.
Students, especially undergraduates, are strongly attracted to interdisciplinary courses, especially those of societal relevance.
The success of IDR groups depends on institutional commitment and research leadership. Leaders with clear vision and effective communication and team-building skills can catalyze the integration of disciplines.
The characteristics of IDR pose special challenges for funding organizations that wish to support it. IDR is typically collaborative and involves people of disparate backgrounds. Thus, it may take extra time for building consensus and for learning new methods, languages, and cultures.
Social-science research has not yet fully elucidated the complex social and intellectual processes that make for successful IDR. A deeper understanding of these processes will further enhance the prospects for creation and management of successful IDR programs.
Adapted from "Executive Summary." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2005. Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11153.