Skip to main content
National Cancer Institute

Collaborative, multi-geography interdisciplinary research: early lessons from the trenches

Edit resource

Scodanibbio L. Collaborative, multi-geography interdisciplinary research: early lessons from the trenches. Oral presentation at 2017 SciTS Conference. Clearwater Beach, FL. Jun 13, 2017. International, Large-Scale Distributed Teams. Online at:

An increasing number of large multi-partner, geographically distributed, inter-disciplinary research consortia are being funded to address wicked problems in the socio-ecological realm, such as around climate change and sustainable development. While some call these projects transdisciplinary and others compare them to communities of practice, there is no clear framework as yet to describe them, or to help harvest the lessons that are emerging in the complex process of implementing projects such as these. Some argue that this collaborative research model holds the potential to yield unique insights that can be applied to multiple regions and reflect a more systemic and integrated understanding of the issues. However, working collaboratively across several time zones, different institutional and personal capacities, and opposed disciplines and local contexts, also entails large transaction costs and a challenging integration process. The purpose of this paper is to explore the learning that has emerged halfway through the Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions (ASSAR) project; a five-year multi-country, multi-disciplinary research project that seeks to explore some of the main barriers and enablers to effective, widespread and sustained adaptation to climate change in semi-arid regions of Africa and Asia. The paper starts by mapping ASSAR onto different frameworks that are often used to describe such boundary-spanning research consortia, such as transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary collaborations, communities of practice, and frameworks emerging from science of team science scholars. It then moves on to discuss the learning that emerged from a range of ASSAR researchers and staff members that were surveyed in late 2016, halfway through ASSAR’s duration. It ends by highlighting emerging lessons to date and provides preliminary recommendations around issues that need to be taken into consideration when designing and implementing large multi-site interdisciplinary research collaborations.



Type of Publication:

Oral presentation


scits 2017 conference, presentation, international, collaboration

Addresses these goal(s):

  • Enhance team performance, interactions, and attitudes
  • Conduct research on/evaluate team science

Comments (0 comments)

Add Comments
Resource created by Jane Hwang on 10/5/2017 10:10:14 AM.

Narrow your search by
resource type or goal:

Advanced Search



Email this page