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Information Literacy Research Skill Building: Multidisciplinary Research

This guide contains information literacy instructional materials based on the ACRL Information Literacy Standards.

Multidisciplinary Research

Multidisciplinary Research


The definition below originates from the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute:

"Multidisciplinary, Interdisciplinary, and Transdisciplinary Research

Interdisciplinary research has a collaborative focus and blends and integrates research between disciplines. Researchers from two or more disciplines work together and create a shared discourse about the research problem. Sometimes this offers a vantage point from which to interrogate the core assumptions of a discipline and to trace or even redraw its boundaries. Recent decades have seen the birth of 'interdisciplines – such as ecological economics and climate adaptation – where an interdisciplinary research project has consolidated to the point of creating a new discipline.

Research can be said to be multidisciplinary, rather than interdisciplinary, when it does not seek to integrate the multiple disciplines involved. The methodologies and assumptions of each discipline are not expressly developed from the interaction with the others. Multidisciplinary teams can work either concurrently or in sequence, but the activities of their respective disciplines run parallel and do not blend.

A transdisciplinary research strategy focuses on problems or issues that cut across the boundaries of two or more disciplines, or fall between them, whatever the nature of the interactions between these disciplines. The aim is to create a unity of knowledge, but not necessarily the development of blended practices and assumptions. Transdisciplinary research will tend to have a 'real world' focus and to include the interests and involvement of third parties such as government and non-government agencies or business in the research."

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