We offer ideas on why India ranks highest and Brazil fifth — above the United States and Europe — in terms of the numbers of interdisciplinary research papers that they publish in Elsevier journals (see Nature 525, 306–307; 2015).
India's researchers are surrounded by dynamic ecological, social and economic problems. They therefore naturally turn to solution-oriented research that is informed by the complexity of their environment. Although interdisciplinary researchers still struggle for acceptance in India's traditional, rigidly structured university departments, new universities with centralized programmes are offering fresh and tempting perspectives.
In Brazil, the number of interdisciplinary graduate programmes is growing twice as fast as the number of disciplinary courses. The country's national accreditation system changed 15 years ago, when many of its master's and PhD programmes failed to fit any of their set 46 disciplinary slots.