The Loss of Innovation: Peer Review in Multi- and Interdisciplinary Research

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Association for Interdisciplinary Studies


Multi- and interdisciplinary research, processes of synthesizing new questions and paradigms between two or more fields, are particularly sensitive to inept peer reviewing. This is primarily because: a) such science is difficult to evaluate because it is new; b) evaluation of the results is difficult; c) the grant system favors those who write well; and d) scientists and the public believe that funding should depend upon principle of equal access for equal merit. In reviewing multidisciplinary projects, reviewers must assess each investigator's skill in his/ her particular area, as well as determine that the project head has adequate administrative ability. In reviewing interdisciplinary research, each investigator must be evaluated for secondary competence in the other field(s) as well as in his/her primary field. Moreover, reviewers should also possess appropriate secondary competences. Review of interdisciplinary research must, in addition, take into account methodology of the proposal, clarity of ideas expressed, and closeness of the two (or more) fields. Reviewers of multi- and interdisciplinary research play critical roles in the progress of science and must possess well-educated intuition, flexibility, and sensitivity to their simultaneous responsibilities as guardians of competence and innovation.




Perper, Timothy. "The loss of innovation: Peer review in multi-and interdisciplinary research." Issues in Integrative Studies 7 (1989): 21-56.