Interdisciplinarity: Working Together Takes Work      

Cell asked its 40 Under 40 what they thought was the biggest problem facing young scientists today. Todd P. Coleman, associate professor at UCSD stated:
A big challenge, but one that I enjoy, is that the important—many of the most societally relevant—problems can no longer be just solved with physics like for the transistor or biology like the for Polio vaccine.  It is increasingly the case that we need to bring different groups of people together from very different disciplines to partner and tackle important problems. It is like the analogy that we can no longer act like golf or tennis players—we have to now think in terms of baseball or football. A baseball team will not be successful if it is full of shortstops.

Academia Today Favors Specialization

Despite the calls for more interdisciplinary work from researchers and funding organizations (see NSF and NIH) there are significant hurdles towards working together. A recent finding shows that interdisciplinary work has a consistently lower chance of funding Bromham 2016. Moreover, some researchers still advocate that hyper-specialization is needed for a deep understanding of a field and that interdisciplinary studies results in a shallow understanding of things.

The Argument Breadth vs Depth

Areas of research are constantly emerging, merging, and transforming. Some issues--such as societal, environmental, economic, and philosophical ones--are complex and multifaceted. Thus, they cannot be understood from the lens of a single field of study. W James Jacob argues specialization lacks “in addressing larger and more complex issues... [Interdisciplinary] approaches take a much broader view of the entire landscape, first by surveyin