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National Cancer Institute

Effects of an Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Program on Interdisciplinary Science

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Bachrach C, Daniel S, Moody J, Realmuto L, Sheble L, Weiss L. Effects of an Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Program on Interdisciplinary Science. Oral presentation at 2017 SciTS Conference. Clearwater Beach, FL. Jun 13, 2017. Team Science Training for Graduate Students and Postdocs Online at:

Between 2003 and 2016, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Health & Society Scholars (HSS) program trained 187 early-career scholars to investigate how determinants of health at the biologic, genetic, behavioral, social, and environmental levels combined to influence the population’s health. A key goal of the program was to develop interdisciplinary scientists. Last year, the program began an evaluation of the program that compared career accomplishments among a sample of program alumni and a closely matched control group drawn from finalists for the program. This presentation will discuss the effects of the program on research interdisciplinarity. Interdisciplinarity was assessed using network measures that revealed the extent to which scientists reached across disciplines in published research identified through Web of Science. All study participants applied to the program during 2003-2007; published research was observed during 2011-2015. We report results from two approaches to defining interdisciplinary reach. The first approach uses network clustering algorithms to identify disciplines and examines the extent to which there is disciplinary diversity within references cited in a person’s published research. The second uses network distances directly and measures the median distance (weighted) in the network among all pairs of references in a paper. Our results show that those who participated in the HSS program scored higher on virtually all measures of interdisciplinarity in their published work. The results suggest that programs specifically designed to produce interdisciplinary scientists can be impactful in developing cross-disciplinary researchers. The presentation will address: • The approach to interdisciplinary training used in HSS; • The design of the evaluation, including evidence for a close match between program participants and controls; • Results from univariate analysis and multivariate analyses controlling on potential confounders and mediators; • Discussion of study implications, strengths, and weaknesses



Type of Publication:

Oral presentation


SciTS 2017 Conference, Presentation, Team Science Training, Postdoc, Students, Graduate Students

Addresses these goal(s):

  • Provide training for team science to team members or students
  • Conduct research on/evaluate team science

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Resource created by Jane Hwang on 10/3/2017 9:51:01 AM.

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