Evaluating an interdisciplinary research project: Lessons learned for organisations, researchers and funders

Rosalind H. Bark, Marit E. Kragt, Barbara J. Robson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)
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Interdisciplinary research is often essential to develop the integrated systems understanding needed to manage complex environmental issues that are faced by decision-makers world-wide. The scientific, institutional and funding challenges to interdisciplinary research have been the subject of considerable discussion. Funders remain willing to support such research and to evaluate its impact. In this paper, we develop and apply a set of review concepts to systematically evaluate a large interdisciplinary research project. The project was conducted at a national research organisation that seeks to facilitate interdisciplinary integration. We categorise evaluation concepts as process- and outcome-related and propose five practical management interventions to bridge the concepts to improve interdisciplinary integration. These management interventions are: agree on a conceptual model, incorporate independent review, support synthesisers, foster intra-project communication, and build-in organisational learning. We end with reflections on lessons for the structure of research organisations and of the research team to develop effective interdisciplinary research as well as providing a set of recommendations for interdisciplinary research funders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1449-1459
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Project Management
Issue number8
Early online date30 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


  • Evaluation
  • Interdisciplinary integration
  • Interdisciplinary research
  • Matrix organisation
  • Project review

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