Collaboration in Math and Geosciences Program Assessment | SRI International

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Collaboration in Math and Geosciences Program Assessment

SRI's bibliometric analysis suggested that the CMG program significantly increased the interdisciplinarity of supported geoscientists and mathematical scientists.

In coordination with Collaboration in Mathematics and Geosciences (CMG) program directors, the National Science Foundation's (NSF's) Geosciences Directorate contracted with SRI's CSTED to provide bibliometric and other data-based analyses of the CMG program. The project’s goal was to facilitate NSF’s understanding of the impact of the CMG program and the resulting connections between researchers in the fields of mathematical (and/or statistical) and geosciences.

SRI’s analyses included two different, independent analysis techniques to abstracts, co-authors, and cited references to evaluate the CMG program. One technique quantified and measured interdisciplinarity by analyzing the subject category diversity of cited references’ journals of publications derived from CMG awards. This technique found that derived publications' references are from a wider variety of Web of Science journal subject categories than publications produced by the same researchers before and after the CMG awards.

To complement this well-accepted bibliometric method, CSTED leveraged SRI’s expertise in artificial intelligence with SRI's Advanced Analytics group to analyze the text of more than 14,000 publications associated with the CMG program published between 2002 and 2010. The result implies that CMG support produced a change in the language researchers used in their publications: geoscientists used more terms associated with our mathematical standard and mathematical scientists used more terms associated with our geoscience standard.

These and other facets of our analysis suggest that the CMG program did significantly increase the interdisciplinarity of geoscientists and mathematical scientists it has supported. In addition, many collaborations that resulted from CMG support produced research that merged mathematics with geosciences, and provided training of mathematical scientists in geosciences and geoscientists in mathematics.

These results suggest that research programs can be designed not only to foster interdisciplinary research in general, but to foster interdisciplinarity among specific domains of science and engineering. This has very positive implications for science policy given the current policy emphasis on fostering interdisciplinary research based on the commonly held presumption that advances in research tend to occur at the interstices of the disciplines.