The sciences must work more and better together


Danish research can be better at coming up with new ways of solving complex societal issues in, for example, the health and energy sectors. Doing so, however, requires stronger collaboration between the sciences, according to a new report from Copenhagen Business School (CBS) and the Think Tank DEA.


For Danish researchers it is typically easier – and often more valuable – to stay within their own field. It is also poses fewer difficulties for university management teams to focus inward on their own ranks than to collaborate with other fields of research, for instance, with other faculties or universities. Finally, it can require less effort for foundations and politicians to focus on technological developments as opposed to the difficult, complex societal context and the unpredictability of human behaviour, which nonetheless often ultimately determines the success of technological solutions.

Consequently if Danish research is to contribute seriously to future societal challenges, then scientists and research institutions must become better at working together across academic disciplines. Furthermore they must build upon both scientific experiments and studies of human behaviour, according to CBS Dean of Research Peter Møllgaard.
“The social sciences and the humanities have very valuable things to offer when, for example, technological solutions are translated into businesses or better public administration. I would even go so far as to say that outcomes only represent a half-way solution if the social sciences and humanities are not incorporated from the get go in, e.g. strategic research programmes. That’s why the social sciences and humanities need to get out on the field more, and they need to be invited into strategic research programmes more often, for instance,” explains Møllgaard.

New research networks required
One of the report’s recommendations is to create more connections between scientific disciplines. According to DEA head analyst Maria Theresa Norn focus must be put on creating additional cross-disciplinary networks and relationships that can lead to joint research projects, and perhaps research applications, if foundations and politicians offer their support.

“Our current system of research has a tendency to deliver solutions within well-known silos and on familiar issues. There is a need to create networks and relationships across disciplines that can lead to joint research projects and applications. We’re not saying that it’s easy. But it will benefit society,” insists Norn, who also emphasises that this type of approach also requires a greater willingness to take risks and patience from foundations and politicians.
10 recommendations for politicians and other decision makers
The report, published in English, is called “How to promote meaningful collaboration across scientific disciplines” and presents 10 recommendations on how to promote cross-disciplinary research.
Meaningful collaboration across scientific disciplines

The recommendations are aimed at players in and surrounding the research system. In other words politicians, public servants, public research institutions, university management teams and the researchers themselves. Two of the recommendations state:

  1. Establish long-term strategic research programmes that have broad political support (politicians and public servants)
  2. Focus on the challenges – not on already identified solutions (politicians and public servants)

Read the full report: “How can we promote meaningful collaboration across scientific disciplines?”

Read an extract: "5 examples of interdisciplinary research collaborations"

For more information contact:
The head of the secretariat for the CBS Dean of Research: Nikolaj Burmeister
DEA Chief Analyst Maria Theresa Norn


The page was last edited by: Communications // 12/20/2017