The Benefits, Challenges, and Disincentives of Interdisciplinary Collaboration


  • Jennifer L Lanterman University of Nevada, Reno
  • Sarah J Blithe University of Nevada, Reno



collaboration, interdisciplinary research, ethnography, case study


Research consistently demonstrates the value of interdisciplinary collaboration. It has also become common for universities to encourage their faculty to engage in interdisciplinary and collaborative research. However, there are several challenges and disincentives to this type of work. In this article, we draw on a single case study of a project employing interdisciplinary collaborative event ethnography (CEE) to demonstrate the benefits, challenges, and disincentives of this approach to research. We highlight the enhanced and nuanced outcomes achieved through interdisciplinary collaboration that would likely not have been achieved through an intradisciplinary approach to the research questions. The case study also highlights the challenges and disincentives associated with this research strategy, including longer work times, difficulty in publishing due to editorial and reviewer criticism about violating methods preferences or disciplinary boundaries, and issues related to publications outside of one’s field. We conclude with a call to enhance the incentives associated with interdisciplinary collaborative research.


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Author Biographies

Jennifer L Lanterman, University of Nevada, Reno

Jennifer L. Lanterman, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Nevada, Reno. Her research interests include the institutional and community-based management and treatment of high-risk and high-need offenders, the etiology and management of firearm violence, and restorative justice. Her recent work has been published in Criminal Justice and Behavior, Criminology and Public Policy, Dialogues in Social Justice, Feminist Criminology, Journal of Qualitative Criminal Justice and Criminology, Justice Research and Policy, Studies in Social Justice, and The Prison Journal.

Sarah J Blithe, University of Nevada, Reno

Dr. Sarah Blithe is an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno.  She is an expert in organizational communication and specializes in gender, work-life balance, policy inequalities, and management learning. Dr. Blithe is the author of Gender Equality and Work Life Balance: Glass Handcuffs and Working Men in the U.S., which won two national outstanding book awards. She is also the winner of the prestigious 2017 Nevada System of Higher Education Regents Rising Researcher Award, the 2016 Mousel Feltner Award for Outstanding Research, and three Top Paper Awards for academic articles.  






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