Participatory Research and Development for Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management: A Sourcebook - Vol. 2

By Julian Gonsalves; Thomas Becker et al. | Go to book overview

35
Interdisciplinary Work: Patterns and
Practicalities

Interdisciplinary research projects differ in nature, intensity, scale, complexity, level and aspiration for outcomes. This paper attempts to portray patterns of interdisciplinary work and practicalities associated with this mode of conducting agricultural research.

Interdisciplinary work is both a product and a stimulus or even a simultaneous companion of concepts like integration, holism, coherence, comprehensive, synergism, multisectoral, sustainable, environment, farming system, ecosystem, land-use patterns, participatory, quality of life, poverty, women-in-development, user’s perspective, and others. The substance behind each of these is more than one aspect, and therefore more than one discipline is often called upon to carry out research programs/projects which emerge from any of these concepts.

Patterns of Interdisciplinary Work

“Interdisciplinary,” based on Webster’s definition,
means involving or joining two or more disciplines or
branches of learning. The prefix “inter,” however,
conveys a nuance not evident in the above
definition. “Inter” means between or among, with/
or on each other (or one another) together, mutual,
reciprocal. “Multidisciplinary,” on the other hand,
means combining the disciplines of many different
branches of learning or of research. This nuance is
provided by the prefix “inter” and “multi” simply
means many. Such subtleties when applied to the
conduct of research may not be very subtle,
operationally speaking.


Typology of Interdisciplinary Research Projects

Without claiming an exhaustive survey of relevant materials, a typology of interdisciplinary agricultural research projects is attempted here in order to provide a variety of scenarios involving social scientists. The categories in this typology are not mutually exclusive. They are meant to illustrate the predominant operational mode manifested in each type.

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