The Role of Interdisciplinary Research and Increased Scholarly Productivity
In contemporary higher education, scholarly productivity is the key to tenure, promotion, and job mobility. Multiple models and modalities can help achieve this aim—but the objective must be accomplished based upon the standards of each discipline. In the present address, Dr. Croughan, presents a model that she has found to be highly successful and has helped advance the careers of numerous faculty members. Collaboration has the benefit of, not only adding to productivity, but it can do so at significant rates—when compared to sole-author research. Collaboration has the potential of leveraging the expertise of multiple faculty members in order to accomplish research that otherwise could not be conducted by any of the respective, individual group members. Synergy is a dynamic that should not be overlooked nor its value underestimated. Further, interdisciplinary research has the potential of compounding the efforts of individual contributing members of research teams. Group members contribute varied expertise, methodologic approaches, theoretical perspectives, research funding sources, creativity, research instruments, physical space, and human resources that redouble both the quantity and quality of scholarship and research productivity. In the present keynote address, Dr. Croughan (a) makes a case for interdisciplinary research collaboration, (b) explains some seminal elements for achieving optimal success, (c) shares some suggestions for potentially jumpstarting the process, and (d) relates some real-life academic cases where interdisciplinary research has been transformative to scholars’ careers.
Mary Croughan, Ph.D., is a seasoned administrator and researcher with more than 30 years of experience in higher education. As UNLV’s vice president for research and economic development, Dr. Croughan’s strategic foci are on continuing to build the university’s research infrastructure, increasing grant funding, creating more interdisciplinary research, and identifying new strategic research areas for UNLV to become a world leader. To this end, she modified UNLV’s Faculty Opportunity Awards to provide more than $300,000 in seed funding solely to interdisciplinary research projects on campus and is building a Research Excellence Program that will serve as a one-stop-shop for UNLV researchers at every stage, ensuring they have the mentorship, support, and all resources necessary to obtain funding and conduct critical research in all disciplines. Prior to joining UNLV in 2017, Dr. Croughan was the executive director of the Research Grants Program Office for the University of California (UC) system-wide Office of the President and a faculty member at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine. She was Vice-Chair and Chair of the University of California system-wide Academic Senate from 2007-2009.