Aveneu Park, Starling, Australia

I do not agree with this statement.

I do not agree with this statement. I do not think that interdisciplinary approaches only lead to confusion, in fact, I believe that they enhance knowledge because by drawing from multiple academic disciplines, problems can be understood and addressed outside of the walls of one single discipline. Using multiple disciplines piece together knowledge that forms a more meaningful whole. In the context of this essay, the word “production” will mean the discovery of new knowledge previously unknown to humanity, not the acquisition of knowledge. Also “interdisciplinary” refers to using more than one academic discipline. For example, in this essay, an interdisciplinary approach to the production of knowledge is an approach that utilizes researchers or research methods from at least two academic disciplines. This essay will explore interdisciplinary approaches to the production of knowledge in the Natural Sciences and Human Sciences through the ways of knowing, sense perception and reason, and language. This gives rise to the knowledge question: what is the significance of language in adopting an interdisciplinary approach on the production of knowledge? and to what extent does an interdisciplinary approach to the production of knowledge affect the usefulness of the knowledge? In the second question, “usefulness” is defined as the extent to which knowledge has a practical application. While taking an interdisciplinary approach to the production of knowledge can require clarification between academic disciplines, it allows for the application of the knowledge to applicable in a wider context, than if only one discipline was used to derive the knowledge. Within the the area of knowledge of Natural Science, Gibbons et al 1994, coined the term “Mode 2.” This term refers to a multidisciplinary approach to the production of scientific knowledge. In this method, multidisciplinary teams are brought together to work on scientific problems. The method of research originated because in the 20th century it was observed through sense perception and determined through reason, that real world issues were problem-focused and context driven, so research should be carried out within the context of each issue, often involving multiple disciplines. This means that the scientific discipline should not be important in determining how research should be conducted. It suggests that the method of research should be reliant on the context of the problems that need to be fixed. Therefore, when using this approach to produce knowledge, the result is that the knowledge is more socially accountable and reflexive. To illustrate how this works, the activity of motor cortex neurons convey movement intent that is strong enough to operate artificial devices. This concept gives hope for paralysed humans because if humans can control artificial devices through the activity of motor cortex neurons, they would be able to control movement of prosthetics, like fingers with their mind. So, in 2006, Mijail D. Serruya of Brown University oversaw the creation of a device that is capable of reading the intention on part of a monkey to make a certain movement and then reproduce the movement on a computer. The method of research was designed was governed by interests of actors involved with this practical problem, not by interests of specific discipline’s community. Therefore, although the technology produced is most valuable to field of neuroscience, the team that created this device was made up of specialists in biology, cognitive sciences, neurosciences, medicine, psychology, and mathematics. However, what is referred to as “Mode 1” counteracts the claims of Mode 2. Mode 1 is knowledge production that is motivated solely by scientific knowledge and is founded on the concept that science is separated into separate disciplines. It is built on the concept that opposite  Mode 2, the method of the research should not be impacted by the possible application for the findings. When Mode 1 research is being conducted, the research conforms to the norms of the discipline’s definition of “scientific.” For example, many doctoral theses are an example of Mode one research. The role of the doctoral thesis an original contribution to knowledge that has traditionally signalled a high level of intellectual output within one academic discipline. Essentially, the point of the thesis is to produce knowledge on behalf of their respective academic community, which lines up perfectly with Mode 1 method of research, that says that, “problem formulation should be governed by interests of specific academic community.” Through each example, it can be seen that both Mode 1 and Mode 2 methods of research have been successful. However, through the interdisciplinary approach of Mode 2 research, knowledge is produced more effectively because the knowledge produced, was produced to solve a problem. From the moment the technology or knowledge exists, it has a practical application. Mode 1 research suggests that knowledge production should be separate from application. Therefore, the result is good for the scientific community, and the advancement of science as a whole, but is not often useful for the common good. With this being said, Mode 2 research produces knowledge with the intention of solving a practical issue that affects many people and is knowledge that in many cases could not be achieved by working within only one academic discipline. There are specific vocabularies that are used within each academic discipline and when an interdisciplinary approach is used to produce knowledge, researchers from different disciplines are able to contribute their respective terminology to create a product that can account for both disciplines. In psychology, which falls into the Human Sciences, the Holmes & Rahe Social Readjustment Ratings scale (SSRS), which identifies major stressful life events, was developed by both doctors and psychologists who came together and used their own respective vocabularies to produce the questionnaire which uses physical, mental, and social hardships to predict the likelihood of someone having a major health breakdown.(McLeod). However, when taking an interdisciplinary approach, many claim that language often acts as a barrier between academic disciplines because in order to effectively take an interdisciplinary approach, one has to familiarize themselves with the terms and vocabulary of other disciplines. For example, when psychologists and biologists are working together, they essentially have to learn two different languages. Different words have different meanings within each academic discipline. For example, the word “cell” means the same thing to both biologists and psychologists, but to a physicist, a “cell” is a battery. L.J. Braken and E.A. Oughton conducted research and found that interdisciplinary projects must allocate time to the development of shared vocabularies and understandings if they are going to be effective. Common understanding derived from shared languages in turn plays a vital role in enhancing the relations of trust that are necessary for effective interdisciplinary working.However, cognitive linguists Lakoff and Johnson claim that through the use of metaphors, interdisciplinary production of knowledge can develop shared vocabularies and understandings. Like the way they work in literature, metaphors build deeper understanding of a concept by making connections to what the researcher already knows. What these examples, convey is that when taking an interdisciplinary approach to the production of knowledge, language can present challenges in achieving effective communication between interdisciplinary based experts. However, if researchers take the time to familiarize themselves with other vocabularies, a common understanding can be achieved. If this is achieved, it enhances the quality and usefulness of the knowledge.An interdisciplinary approach to the production of knowledge allows for researchers to develop knowledge based on an issue that is not constrained within one academic discipline. Through reasoning and sense perception, it has been observed that in order to solve real world issues, research should be conducted within the context of the issue and not one discipline. However, when bringing different experts from different disciplines together, there can be language barriers because there are different vocabularies necessary to understand each academic discipline. If researchers take the time to familiarize themselves with the vocabulary of other disciplines, then the result of an interdisciplinary approach to the production of knowledge is extremely useful to produce knowledge to solve important real world issues.


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