Pathway profiles: Learning from five main approaches to assessing interdisciplinarity


Monitoring and evaluating interdisciplinarity is crucial for informing decisions about interdisciplinary (ID) policies, funding, and work. Yet, the recent explosion of ID assessment approaches represents an overwhelming buffet of options that has produced little consensus, limited guidance, and minimal insights into interdisciplinarity and its value to society. This article extends findings from a companion study that systematically reviewed the ID assessment field from 2000 to 2019. Engaging with the same extensive dataset but in a new way, we employ typological analysis and condense 1,006 published assessment designs into just five main assessment approaches called Pathway Profiles. We then tailor assessment guidance to each Pathway Profile, including potential settings in which each could be most useful and ways each could be modified to reduce challenges and increase rigor. Our goal in defining and interacting with the core of the ID assessment field in this way is not only to clarify activity in this vast and disjointed space but also to simplify and facilitate processes of understanding, choosing from, and strategically developing this diverse landscape. Pathway Profiles can be used as heuristic gateways to the ID assessment field, particularly when it comes to finding relevant examples, adapting designs to situations, and ultimately uncovering the true outcomes of interdisciplinarity.

Publication Type
Journal Article
Bethany K Laursen
Kelly J Anderson
Research Evaluation

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