I have an important question, so please try to answer it precisely and carefully as possible.

If I want a career in one field in academia, would it be inadvisable to publish some other academic researches in other fields.

I have seen an article in a blog that suggest against it. But on the other hand I think that ability to publish research and practise this process is important for academic persons.

Nevertheless, lately I browsed Shanghai ranking and they have a rule that divides the researcher contribution by the number of departments they published in.

To expand my point,for many fields it is necessary to combine expertise from different disciplines in order to sythesis some new approaches. So frankly, I really do not understand the logics behind such an archaic approach.

So the question is, will it help publishing in more than one discipline or will it really make everything more difficult?

  • Could you publish under a pen name? Commented Oct 15, 2015 at 23:22

3 Answers 3


Interdisciplinary research is both an advantage and a disadvantage.

Interdisciplinary research is advantageous because the interaction between fields is often extremely productive in creating new knowledge and breakthroughs. Lots of extremely important things start out as interdisciplinary research, and it's where entire new fields tend to emerge. In my opinion, most of the most exciting research you'll encounter is interdisciplinary in nature.

The disadvantage is that until the new area starts to be recognized as important, interdisciplinary work isn't well "claimed" by any discipline. This means it's harder to get published, harder to get funded, and generally harder to get respect from colleagues working in "core" areas. There are often very few people who fully understand the content of an interdisciplinary project, and the importance of an interaction is often only recognized in retrospect.

This tension is, I believe, the reason that you often see articles calling for more interdisciplinary research. Many people recognize its importance, but if it was well-supported by existing community dynamics, they wouldn't need to write these articles.


A matter connected to your question is discussed in the recent issue of ACM XRDS Magazine (Vol. 21 No. 4, Summer 2015) under the title, "Crossing Boundaries". It describes the need for interdisciplinary research.

Publishing papers in diverse fields allows you to explore your opportunities and provides insights for novel ideas. In the early part of your research career, it would be admirable to have a fine understanding of various domains in your domain. After which you may delve into the details on what interests you the most from what you have broadly researched.

  • 1
    I get that there's a large demand for interdisciplinary research but I'm not so sure that diverse publishing always looks beneficial (as an early career scholar with a PhD and some publications in philosophy but now also some publishing in CALL).
    – virmaior
    Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 10:44

If you're interested in several different research fields and manage to publish on a good level, then go for it! The crucial question is whether you can align your work in the different fields such that they form your unique profile. You should therefore take care that your published work always relates to the research profile that you want to establish for yourself.

Regarding job prospects, I guess the pros and cons balance out. On the pro side, you can apply for a wider diversity of jobs that are not limited to one specific field of expertise. On the con side, you'll probably intimidate some committee members with a diverse publication record, certainly containing journals that some of them never heard of (and hence can't judge).

Essentially, you'll have to own your diversity and make it a point for you. But you'll have to follow through and make diversity part of your profile. If it's just a side project in a loosely related area that you probably will have no long-term interest in, then it's probably just a waste of time.

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