Interdisciplinarity: Two more principles

As scientists in a sustainable-development research institute, our experience has demonstrated two further principles that are crucial for successful interdisciplinary research (see R. R. Brown et al. Nature 525, 315–317; 2015).

First, solving real-world problems requires integration of the social and biophysical realms. Key to this is the explicit consideration of differences in scale. For example, water governance has a typical time horizon of years, yet hydrological processes operate on timescales from seconds to millennia.

Second, a critical mass of interdisciplinary scholars is necessary to become a credible counterpart for disciplinary researchers and to catalyse progress. Our institute employs 150 interdisciplinary researchers, who engage much greater numbers of single-discipline researchers in interdisciplinary projects.

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Correspondence to Martin J. Wassen.

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Wassen, M., Hekkert, M. Interdisciplinarity: Two more principles. Nature 526, 323 (2015).

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