Table 1

Practical actions for fostering cross-disciplinary research and the number of publications that mentioned each action

Practical actions for fostering cross-disciplinary research (CDR)Number of publications that mention each action (n=63)
At the individual level
1. Personal attributes25
 1.1 Receptive to new ideas and willing to learn from others17
 1.2 Courageous to push disciplinary boundaries7
 1.3 Dealing with the unknown4
 1.4 Aware of and coping with negative emotions generated while conducting CDR10
2. Motivation to conduct CDR10
 2.1 A strong belief in the added value of CDR8
 2.2 Creative outputs and better theories and analyses generated through CDR5
 2.3 Better understanding of one’s own disciplines by doing CDR1
3. Commitment and confidence in teamwork15
 3.1 An individuals’ willingness to work collaboratively8
 3.2 Individual commitment to conduct CDR8
 3.3 Individuals’ confidence to explore and initiate CDR4
4. Career progression4
 4.1 A large publication record within a primary discipline3
 4.2 The continuity and development of CDR networks and communities1
At research team/programmatic level
1. Good leadership26
 1.1 Explicit knowledge integration goals3
 1.2 Integrative and clear vision12
 1.3 Leaders’ personal quality
  1. Trustworthiness, transparency and openness

  2. Recognising complementary expertise, understanding differences and managing expectations

  3. Communication skills, team-building skills

 1.4 Organising and expanding collaborative networks5
 1.5 Disengaging partners that cannot find ways to work together productively4
2. Establishing a cross-disciplinary team23
 2.1 Clearly identified roles4
 2.2 A balanced team of experienced and early-career researchers2
 2.3 A central administration team providing leadership and administrative support5
 2.4 Research brokers to facilitate communication among disciplines8
 2.5 Collaborations based on pre-existing networks11
3. Working as a cross-disciplinary team42
 3.1 Defining and framing research problems collaboratively5
 3.2 Working to a common conceptual framework8
 3.3 Conflict prevention and management through communication and open discussions, by internal agreed approaches, and turning competing demands into opportunities for growth15
 3.4 Identifying and minimising academic and discipline hierarchy11
 3.5 Engaging local stakeholders, especially through a continuous participatory approach, joint field trips and with the support of a communications specialist6
 3.6 Mentoring early-career researchers6
 3.7 Nurturing trust within CDR teams and from funding agencies and hosting institutions12
4. Cross-disciplinary communications32
 4.1 Constructing a shared understanding with developing a shared language as a milestone, through mutual learning, and by team-level reflection19
 4.2 Having regular meetings, from informal ones to formal ones, either in-person or through virtual meetings and electronic communication27
At institutional/funder level
1. Institutional support10
 1.1 Promoting a CDR culture2
 1.2 Establishing institutional structures such as CDR centres2
 1.3 Creating a common administration infrastructure5
 1.4 Initiating and maintaining CDR mentorship schemes4
 1.5 Disseminating CDR funding information2
 1.6 Facilitating networking and matching research collaborators4
2. Academic career pathways6
 2.1 Structuring and implementing faculty incentives valuing CDR appropriately6
3. Providing institutional resources21
 3.1 Institutional seed money10
 3.2 Meeting venues and tools for research management5
 3.3 Shared space, that is, offices, buildings, campuses, study sites14
4. Funders’ power and influence16
 4.1 Dedicated funding for CDR, especially long-term and seed funding, or by promoting CDR in funding calls9
 4.2 Commission research on CDR communication and co-ordination4
 4.3 Flexible review processes for funding applications4
 4.4 Linking researchers across disciplines4
 4.5 Engaging with universities and publishers for better recognition of CDR1
 4.6 Engaging policy makers when the research is policy relevant1