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Mapping interdisciplinary knowledge production from the NSF ADVANCE program

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Interdisciplinary knowledge production is a key desired outcome of work funded by the NSF. But how interdisciplinary is the published research? And how is this interdisciplinarity influenced by collaboration patterns? We explore two key aspects of interdisciplinarity in the published knowledge the NSF ADVANCE program has produced since 2001: First: to visualize the co-authorship networks of publications of ADVANCE award institutions we have created an online interactive network that allows users to explore ADVANCE co-authorships over the last two decades. Second, we quantify interdisciplinarity using three measures that capture the diversity of disciplines within a publication’s 1) references, 2) citations, and 3) authors’ expertise. We find that, in the case of ADVANCE, the extent to which co-author teams are interdisciplinary does not impact how interdisciplinary the references or citations are. However, within the ADVANCE network, we do find significant mixing of references between sociology and psychology, and substantial interdisciplinary impact outside of these fields (much more than observed for the fields on average). Importantly, the amount of interdisciplinarity is also a statistically significant predictor of the number of citations an ADVANCE outcome publication receives. Taken together, this work highlights the extent and benefits of interdisciplinary research for ADVANCE knowledge production. Please visit the Website for more information.


Presenter Bios

Alexander J. Gates is an Assistant Professor in the School of Data Science at the University of Virginia. He employs a highly interdisciplinary approach—combining tools and techniques from Data Science and Network Science with theory from Sociology—to draw insights from large datasets and uncover the interplay between the behaviors of individuals and the emergent structure of organizations, societies, and markets.  Specifically, his research focuses on the Science of Science to analyze how organizational structure and strategic decisions impact innovation, creativity, and success.  His work has been featured in top journals including Nature, The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and The Journal of Machine Learning.  

Laura K. Nelson is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of British Columbia where she also directs the Centre for Computational Social Science. Previously, she was an assistant professor at Northeastern University, where she was core faculty at the NULab for Text, Maps, and Networks, a faculty affiliate at the Network Science Institute, and was a member of the executive committee of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program. Laura has published in venues such as the American Journal of Sociology, Sociological Methods & Research, and Gender & Society, among others.

Jessica R. Gold is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Sociology department at Northeastern University. Her work focuses on organizational analyses of gender and racial inequality, including university faculty hiring and scientific teams. She primarily uses computational text and network analysis methods to uncover patterns in big data related to the gendered and racialized contexts of modern work organizations. She received a PhD in Sociology from the University of California, Davis, and a BA in Sociology from the College of William and Mary.

Steven Lauterwasser is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Northeastern University. He uses diverse quantitative methods to study polarization and the production of politicized knowledge as well as the dissemination of feminist knowledge in academic organizations. Steven received his PhD in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied how polarization in the US differs among partisans, not only as a matter of degree, but as a matter of kind.

Kathrin Zippel is Einstein Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin. Zippel was prior Professor at Northeastern University in Boston. She served as co-PI and research director of Northeastern’s NSF ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grant. Her research has also explored gender and global transformations of science and education and published a book on Women in Global Science: Advancing Careers Through International Collaboration (Stanford University Press). She currently directs a research project on the creation and diffusion of innovative gender equity ideas in the network of colleges, university and STEM organizations funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through the ADVANCE program. Together with Laura K. Nelson she has explored how implicit bias has been implemented in academia (Gender & Society).

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