Academic journal article Journal of Contemporary Athletics

Interdisciplinary Publication Patterns in Select Kinesiology Journals

Academic journal article Journal of Contemporary Athletics

Interdisciplinary Publication Patterns in Select Kinesiology Journals

Article excerpt


Writing at the cusp of World War II, Virginia Woolf argued against the traditional, autocratic, and sexist nature of English higher education:

The aim of the new college, the cheap college, should be not to segregate and specialize, but to combine. It should explore the ways in which mind and body can be made to cooperate; discover what new combinations make good wholes in human life (Woolf, 1952, p. 62).

Woolf s vision for a college focused on creating a new learning environment, a place where academics could come together to explore life's greatest mysteries. Decades removed from Woolf's writings, collaboration is becoming a reality as higher education is increasingly incorporating interdisciplinary goals into research, teaching, and funding expectations (Basken, 2012a, 2012b; Jacobs, 2009; Ruse, 2010). For example, Severin (2013) explained that several prominent universities in the United States have begun "cluster hiring," or hiring multiple faculty into interdisciplinary research (IDR) centers. These centers address complex problems, attract distinguished researchers, and create centers of excellence (Sá, 2008). Sevrin (2013) suggested that cluster hiring, and by association IDR, reflect the expectations of an increasingly collaborative world.

Despite the growing importance of IDR in academia, it is rarely explained or operationalized. This is understandable because there is no agreed upon definition or application for IDR. Instead, there are numerous, sometimes competing classifications (Klein, 1990; Lattuca, 2001; Moran, 2010). This is because the concepts are philosophical in nature and not typically based on real-world observations (Lattuca, 2001).

Despite the difficulty, several scholars have suggested operationalized, "working definitions" of IDR by combining characteristics of several theoretical definitions (Aboelela et al., 2007; Committee on Science, 2005; Lattuca, 2001). Lattuca (2001) developed a fourcategory IDR, non-hierarchal typology for academic disciplines based on a study's research question(s): Informed Disciplinarity (i.e., discipline-based but may be supplemented and informed by concepts or theories from a different discipline), Synthetic Interdisciplinarity (i.e., links disciplines together, questions are found at the intersections or gaps of multiple disciplines), Transdisciplinarity (i.e., applies theories, concepts, or methods across disciplines with the intent of developing an overarching synthesis), and Conceptual Disciplinarity (i.e., no disciplinary basis).

As previously mentioned, vocabulary is fluid in IDR. We understand that many of Lattuca's (2001) terms are defined differently elsewhere (e.g., Wickson, Carew, & Russell, 2006). Though perhaps not perfect, Lattuca's typology provides a necessary groundwork for conceptualizing IDR. In addition, although not suggested by Lattuca (2010), typologies can be conceptualized as a continuum, from less interdisciplinary (i.e., Informed Disciplinarity) to virtually discipline-less (i.e., Conceptual Disciplinarity). One should not interpret an IDR continuum as a hierarchy or as a ranking system, though, but as a way to organize different types of research.

Conceptualizing IDR can help reveal its applicability to a given academic field. Within kinesiology, IDR has been discussed as one viable solution to the field's fragmentation (Gill, 2007; Kretchmar, 2005; Newell, 2007; Reeve, 2007). Unlike Woolf s vision described above, kinesiology is not operating as a collaborative, unified body. Similar to other academic fields, there are deep divisions among, and even within, sub-disciplines. Yet, perhaps ironically, kinesiology is multidisciplinary by nature (Bories & Swanson, 2005), with sub-disciplines in the physical sciences (e.g., biomechanics, physiology), social/behavioral sciences (e.g., psychology, sociology), and humanities (e.g., history, philosophy). This gives the appearance, at least superficially, of an IDR "cluster" similar to that described by Severin (2013). …

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