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How to successfully publish interdisciplinary research: learning from an Ecology and Society Special Feature

Christian Pohl, Transdisciplinarity Lab USYS TdLab, Department of Environmental Systems Science, ETH Zurich; Network for Transdisciplinary Research td-net, Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences
Gabriela Wuelser, Network for Transdisciplinary Research td-net, Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences
Peter Bebi, WSL-Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF
Harald Bugmann, Forest Ecology, Department of Environmental Systems Science, ETH Zurich
Alexandre Buttler, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne EPFL, School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering ENAC, Laboratory of Ecological Systems ECOS; Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL; Laboratoire de Chrono-Environnement, UMR CNRS 6249, UFR des Sciences et Techniques
Ché Elkin, Ecosystem Science and Management, University of Northern British Columbia; Forest Ecology, Department of Environmental Systems Science, ETH Zurich
Adrienne Grêt-Regamey, Planning of Landscape and Urban Systems, Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, ETH Zurich
Christian Hirschi, Environmental Policy and Economics, Department of Environmental Systems Science, ETH Zurich
Quang Bao Le, Department of Environmental Systems Science, ETH Zurich; CGIAR Program in Dryland Systems
Alexander Peringer, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne EPFL, School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering ENAC, Laboratory of Ecological Systems ECOS; Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL
Andreas Rigling, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL
Roman Seidl, Department of Environmental Systems Science, ETH Zurich
Robert Huber, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-07448-200223

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Abstract

What are the factors that hinder or support publishing interdisciplinary research? What does a successful interdisciplinary publishing process look like? We address these questions by analyzing the publishing process of the interdisciplinary research project titled “Mountland.” Project researchers published most of their main results as a Special Feature of Ecology and Society. Using the story wall method and qualitative content analysis, we identified ten factors contributing to the success or failure of publishing interdisciplinary research. They can be assigned to four groups of resources: scientific resources, i.e., previous joint research, simultaneously written manuscripts; human resources, i.e., coordination, flexibility, composition of the team; integrative resources, i.e., vision of integration, chronology of results; and feedback resources, i.e., internal reviews, subject editors, external reviewers. According to this analysis, an ideal-typical publishing process necessitates, among other things, (1) a strong, interdisciplinary coordinator, (2) a clear shared vision of integration and a common framework, (3) flexibility in terms of money and time, (4) a certain sense of timing regarding when and how to exchange results and knowledge, (5) subject editors who are familiar with the specific project and its interdisciplinary merits, and (6) reviewers who are open minded about interdisciplinary efforts.

Key words

hindering and supporting factors; interdisciplinary publishing; Mountland

Copyright © 2015 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087