Consistency of interdisciplinarity measures

Authors : Qi Wang, Jesper Wiborg Schneider

Assessing interdisciplinarity is an important and challenging work in bibliometric studies. Previous studies tend to emphasize that the nature and concept of interdisciplinary is ambiguous and uncertain (e.g. Leydesdorff & Rafols 2010, Rafols & Meyer, 2010, Sugimoto & Weingart, 2014).

As a consequence, various different measures of interdisciplinarity have been proposed. However, few studies have examined the relations between these measures. In this context, this paper aims to systematically review these interdisciplinarity measures, and explore their inherent relations.

We examine these measures in relation to the Web of Science (WoS) journal subject categories (SCs), and also an interdisciplinary research center at Aarhus University.

In line with the conclusion of Digital Science (2016), our results reveal that the current situation of interdisciplinarity measurement in science studies is confusing and unsatisfying. We obtained surprisingly dissimilar results with measures that supposedly should measure similar features.

We suggest that interdisciplinarity as a measurement construct should be used and interpreted with caution in future research evaluation and research policies.