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Policy Briefs

Pathways to interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research: the SHAPE-ID toolkit

Authors: Isabel Fletcher, Catherine Lyall, Doireann Wallace

Work Package: 5

Published: 28 March 2021

Description: This third SHAPE-ID policy brief introduces the SHAPE-ID Toolkit and presents recommendations to policymakers and funders on how this new web-based resource can be used to make informed decisions about inter- and transdisciplinary research, involving the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences to maximise effective responses to societal challenges.

Policy Recommendations in Brief:

  1. Involve Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences researchers in framing funding programmes and calls
  2. Ensure more inclusive language is used in funding calls
  3. Disseminate informative learning case studies of AHSS-led collaborative research
  4. Give careful consideration to why and how you fund ID/TD
  5. Adopt a more flexible approach to funding to allow for the extra time needed for integration
  6. Recruit experienced inter- and transdisciplinary evaluators and train them
  7. Influence research cultures to recognise inter- and transdisciplinary achievements
  8. Work in partnership with national funders to train the inter- and transdisciplinary workforce of the future
  9. Provide continuity of support to allow individuals to fully develop inter- and transdisciplinary research careers

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Maximising arts, humanities and social sciences integration in inter- and transdisciplinary research for effective responses to societal challenges

Authors: Doireann Wallace, Giovanna de Moura Rocha Lima, Carlo Sessa and Jane Ohlmeyer

Work Package: 3

Published: 15 January 2021

Description: This second SHAPE-ID policy brief presents additional recommendations to policymakers and funders on increasing and improving the quality of meaningful  arts, humanities and social sciences integration in inter- and transdisciplinary research, maximising effective responses to societal challenges.

Policy Recommendations in Brief:

  1. Research Funding: commit to missions driven by socio-cultural challenges and embed questions that foreground the human dimensions of challenges. Incorporating AHSS perspectives into the design, language and framing of funding calls can redefine how a problem is understood, how it can be effectively addressed, and encourage different approaches that challenge prevailing expectations.
  1. Higher Education: support processes of change to enable meaningful inter- and transdisciplinary research and education. Higher education structures and funding are deeply rooted in disciplinary cultures and must be incentivised to develop interdisciplinary (ID) and transdisciplinary (TD) educational programmes and reward ID/TD research and education activities.
  1. Research networks and infrastructures: ensure sustainable funding to foster relationship-building and resource sharing. Knowledge about IDR/TDR processes is fragmented and more sustainable networks, resources, and communities of practice, as well as funding support for stakeholder relationship building, are needed to build capacity in Europe.

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Improving pathways to interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research for the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences: first lessons from the SHAPE-ID project

Authors: Bianca Vienni Baptista, Catherine Lyall, Jane Ohlmeyer, Jack Spaapen, Doireann Wallace and Christian Pohl

Work Package: 2

Published: 31 March 2020

Description: This policy brief presents key issues and challenges for fostering interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research in Europe, focusing on the participation of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences in such research. It provides concrete guidance to policy makers and funding organisations on how to tackle those issues and maximise the participation of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

Policy Recommendations in Brief:

  1. Inter- and transdisciplinary research takes place for a wide range of reasons and with partners playing a variety of roles. To encourage greater AHSS participation in funding programmes, funders and policy makers need to engage more substantively with AHSS communities across the spectrum of disciplines and with IDR/TDR experts when defining, designing and evaluating IDR/TDR calls.
  2. Inter- and transdisciplinary research is often more time-consuming than mono-disciplinary research as researchers need to navigate disciplinary differences to align goals and approaches. Funding programmes should allow for additional resources to enable IDR/TDR development, for instance to fund additional meetings, facilitators within projects and time to build mutual understanding and trust.
  3. Inter- and transdisciplinary careers are still seen as risky for researchers. Policy makers should support and incentivise universities to build capacity in IDR and TDR by taking steps to de-risk inter- and transdisciplinary career paths and integrate IDR/TDR into education and training at an early stage.
  4. Uptake of knowledge and recommendations on inter- and transdisciplinary research does not appear to be widespread. A validated online toolkit of IDR/TDR methods, materials and best practice examples is urgently needed to provide a common point of reference for European stakeholders to facilitate the above recommendations. SHAPE-ID will produce a toolkit of this kind but investment will be needed by the European Commission to maintain and develop a sustainable resource for the research and policy community in the longer term.

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