Abstracts are invited for a session held by the GIScience Research Group (GIScRG) at the Royal Geographical Society – Institute of British Geographers International Conference 2012. The conference runs between 3rd – 5th July 2012.

More about the session:

Interdisciplinary research is not only an extremely difficult balancing act, but one which is becoming more frequent. Geography and concepts relating to place and space often serve as a unifying factor around which information from other disciplines can be clustered. In such research, experts in various fields come together for a shared goal, but first need to establish common ground, grasping the opportunity (or threat) that teams can be comprised of researchers from areas as diverse as anthropology, architecture, computer science, economics, tourism, electronic engineering, physics and biology, in addition to geographers.

Challenges that face interdisciplinary teams go beyond those encountered in team work (such as the personalities of the different team members, different management and working styles, national cultures and so forth).  Interdisciplinary team members must also understand the basics and sometimes the detail of work in other disciplines – which requires time and effort from participants in each research area.  Disciplinary cultures can be different (for example presentation and paper writing style, frequency and nature of publications). Terms that mean one thing in one discipline can mean something completely different in another. Technical challenges also arise – how to facilitate data and information sharing within the project when different levels of technological use and understanding are common and different software packages are utilised within each discipline.  Such teams may be multi-locational, reducing the frequency of face-to-face meetings. In addition there is a potential internal conflict between working on research core to a discipline versus participating in a collaborative effort with outsiders. 

The session organisers invite proposals for papers from researchers interested in theoretical or applied learning, with experience in working with teams that bring together people in a multi-national or multi-locational and interdisciplinary context. We seek to evaluate and share both positive and less successful experiences and techniques for interdisciplinary working, with a view to identifying elements of best and worst practice. We welcome proposals that explore issues including:

  • Interdisciplinary Learning: the challenges and rewards associated with becoming familiar with another discipline.
  • Data and Information Sharing: media and methods used to share information effectively, as well as accounts of those that do not.
  • Conflict Management: addressing the hurdles of disciplinary differences, misunderstandings and team growing pains.
  • Project Management Issues: such as the choice between virtual and face-to-face meetings and issues relating to meeting frequency.

The GIScRG will provide one bursary for this session, sponsored by the GIScRG for a paper (co-)authored by a postgraduate student; priority will be given to postgraduate students also delivering the paper. The bursary will cover the reduced conference fee for the student for the duration of the conference. It is a requirement that the student is an RGS-IBG Postgraduate Fellow at the time the bursary is awarded [Annual membership costs from £27 (with no joining fee)].

We are looking for people to share the lessons they have learned in order to continue to push forward interdisciplinary work.  The session will be run by Claire Ellul (UCL). Titles, abstracts (no longer than 250 words) and 5 key words, along with contact details should be emailed to Patrick Rickles (p.rickles[AT]ucl.ac.uk) by Friday 16th December 2011. Notification of acceptance will be given by mid-January 2012.