Rules Are Not the Way to Do Interdisciplinarity: A Response to Szostak

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Association for Interdisciplinary Studies


An alternative view is offered to Szostak’s (2000) multi-step guide to doing interdisciplinary research. Interdisciplinarity is presented as an intuitive process instead of Szostak’s step- or rule-based process. To support the view that interdisciplinarity is an intuitive process, the actual process used in a published interdisciplinary article is compared to Szostak’s steps. Only some of Szostak’s steps are found to apply, and most of these seem applicable in a post-hoc fashion rather than as guides during the process. It is argued that the choice between a step- or rule-based process and an intuitive process is more than personal preference or style. Post-positivist views of science are reviewed that show that science is largely an intuitive process. It is further proposed that if this is true for science—one of the most rational and logical discipline clusters—then it should be equally true for interdisciplinarity. Even though interdisciplinary work is intuitive, steps or rules may have some use, although a list of them would be unlimited.




Mackey, J. Linn. "Rules Are Not the Way to Do Interdisciplinarity: A Response to Szostak." Issues in Integrative Studies 20 (2002): 123-129.