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Measurement of interdisciplinarity and synergy (CIMR Debates in Public Policy)

Venue: Online

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Join us on Wednesday 19 May for our webinar 'Measurement of Interdisciplinarity and Synergy', part of the CIMR Debates in Public Policy series.

The purpose of this debate is to explore how the distinction between “interdisciplinarity” and “synergy” enables the effects and the effectiveness of science-policy interventions in research priorities to be determined. But how can indicators of interdisciplinarity and synergy be conceptualized and defined mathematically? Can one measure interdisciplinarity and synergy?

Problem-solving often requires crossing boundaries, such as those between disciplines. However, interdisciplinarity is not an objective in itself, but a means for creating synergy. When policy-makers call for interdisciplinarity, they may mean synergy. Synergy means that the whole offers more possibilities than the sum of its parts. The number of options available to an innovation system for realization can be as decisive for the system’s survival as the historically already-realized innovations.

Unlike “interdisciplinarity,” “synergy” can also be generated in sectorial or geographical collaborations. The measurement of “synergy,” however, requires a methodology different from the measurement of “interdisciplinarity.” In this presentation, recent advances in the operationalization and measurement of “interdisciplinarity,” are discussed and a methodology for measuring “synergy” based on information theory is proposed.  

Please sign up to this event by 5pm on Tuesday 18 May. You will be sent the link to join on the morning of the event.


  • Loet Leydesdorff & Inga Ivanova, The Measurement of “Interdisciplinarity” and “Synergy” in Scientific and Extra-Scientific Collaborations, Journal of the Association  for Information Science & Technology (early view);


Loet Leydesdorff

Loet Leydesdorff (Ph.D. Sociology, M.A. Philosophy, and M.Sc. Biochemistry) is Professor emeritus at the Amsterdam School of Communications Research (ASCoR) of the University of Amsterdam. He is Associate Faculty at the Science and Technology Policy Research Unit (SPRU) of the University of Sussex, Visiting Professor of the Institute of Scientific and Technical Information of China (ISTIC) in Beijing, Guest Professor at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, and Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Innovation Management Research, Birkbeck, University of London. He has published extensively in systems theory, social network analysis, scientometrics, and the sociology of innovation. With Henry Etzkowitz, he initiated a series of workshops, conferences, and special issues about the Triple Helix of University-Industry-Government Relations. He received the Derek de Solla Price Award for Scientometrics and Informetrics in 2003 and held “The City of Lausanne” Honor Chair at the School of Economics, Université de Lausanne, in 2005. In 2007, he was Vice-President of the 8 th International Conference on Computing Anticipatory Systems (CASYS'07, Liège). He has an H-Index of 105 and nearly 60,000 citations.

 Adrian Day

Adrian has spent nearly 20 years working at the interface between academia and the economy. His work has ranged from developing strategy to design of data and funding (HEIF, HE-BCI, KEF) systems and advising the UK Government, EU & OECD amongst others. Adrian worked for the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) during much of this time and was also seconded to both central government and the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB). In 2016, Adrian set-up his own consultancy and has since been commissioned by Universities across the research spectrum and advised international partners in developing their strategic approach to innovation, enterprise and Knowledge Exchange. Adrian provides specific and useful advice for all stages of interaction between Universities and the wider economy and society; from developing the case for a specific Knowledge Exchange policy to ensuring synergy within advanced innovation systems.

Federica Rossi

Federica Rossi is Reader in Innovation Policy and Management at Birkbeck, University of London. She has a PhD and a MSc in Economics from the University of Torino, Italy. Her current research examines the role of universities as drivers of economic development and growth, intellectual property rights and innovation, and policies in support of business innovation. Recently she has been working on the impact of knowledge transfer activities, and metrics for performance measurement in knowledge transfer.  Dr. Rossi has contributed to numerous research projects sponsored by, among others, OECD, UK Intellectual Property Office, World Intellectual Property Organization, British Academy/Leverhulme, Society for Research in Higher Education, British Academy of Management. She has authored numerous articles in highly ranked peer-reviewed journals. She has also published two books and contributed to numerous edited volumes.

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