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Interdisciplinary researchers attain better long-term funding performance

Interdisciplinary research is on the rise globally. Yet, several studies have shown that it often achieves lower impact compared to more specialized work, and is less likely to attract funding. Here, we seek to reconcile such evidence by analyzing 44,419 research grants awarded by the research councils in the UK.

We find that researchers with an interdisciplinary funding track record dominate the network of academic collaborations, both in terms of centrality and knowledge brokerage, but such a competitive advantage does not translate into immediate return. Our results based on a matched pair analysis show that interdisciplinary researchers achieve lower impact with their publications in the short run; however, they eventually outperform their specialized counterparts in funding performance, both in terms of volume and value.

These findings suggest that pursuing an interdisciplinary career may require perseverance to overcome extra challenges, but can pave the way for a more successful endeavor.

Y. Sun, G. Livan, A. Ma, V. Latora, Interdisciplinary researchers attain better long-term funding performance, Communications Physics 4 (2021) 263.

Vito Latora

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