Cross-Disciplinarity and Co-Creation

This priority encourages collaboration between researchers working in different disciplines and with users of research. It recognises the benefits of cooperation and partnership during the development of research ideas as well as in the research process itself. The ICT landscape has rich opportunities for closer working between disciplines and many of the most exciting opportunities emerge at the interface between established areas. Cross-disciplinary research includes novel collaboration within in the ICT community, with researchers across the EPSRC portfolio and with researchers funded by other research councils.

Co-creation identifies and creates a consensus before a project starts and so builds a stronger foundation to support novel research. This kind of active collaboration across disciplines can help ensure that problems being tackled and opportunities being explored within the EPSRC ICT portfolio, are well-framed and clearly understood. Co-creation can lead to innovative ways to approach a research challenge, including some that could not be devised by researchers working in one discipline alone.

Co-creation requires researchers to gain an understanding of each other’s science so that, for example, methodologies from one discipline can be applied in another. It is this level of cooperation that can enable active partnerships, rather than more passive supplier-client type relationships to develop. Developing this level of understanding takes time.

Implementation of the Priority

This approach builds on the previous Working Together cross-ICT priority. It recognises that there can be barriers to achieving effective cross-disciplinary collaboration in research and aims to support researchers who would like to pursue more interactive collaborations across disciplines.

Current cross-disciplinary research will be reviewed and case studies illustrating effective cross-disciplinary research will be published over the course of the next delivery plan. The ICT Theme also aim to develop guidance for applicants and examples of good practice. EPSRC-funded networks will be encouraged to facilitate cross-disciplinary research.

The EPSRC Peer Review process will be monitored to identify if there is any bias against cross-disciplinary proposals. If necessary, measures (for example issuing guidance for reviewers) will be taken to ensure the process is as fair as possible.

This priority is about encouraging a long term behavioural change in the community. Applicants are encouraged to consider this priority when submitting any proposal to the theme through the council’s standard schemes.

Long term behaviour change requires leadership. The ICT Theme therefore expects all programme grant applicants to the ICT Theme to align their proposals to the priority. Established career Fellowship applicants are also expected to align their proposals to this priority. (It is felt that this would be an unreasonable expectation for early career researchers, for whom the priority is to establish themselves in one field.)

The priority will also be discussed at the upcoming ICT Early Career Researcher workshops and will be a consideration in all other Theme managed activities.

What does this mean for applicants?

Researchers interested in a cross-disciplinary approach should actively involve collaborators in the earliest stages of devising a proposal. Being able to demonstrate that the various collaborators can work together effectively will strengthen a proposal. Workplans should allow time for ideas to be shared in the early stages of a project.

Established Career Fellowships

When applying for an established career fellowship please detail in the cover letter and in the proposal itself how you have addressed this priority. This should be in terms of your specific research but also in terms of your role as a leader in the community. The fit to this priority will be considered by peer review both at the sift and interview stage .

Programme Grants

When applying for a programme grant please detail in the proposal how you have addressed this priority. The fit to this priority will be queried by the office at the pre-outline stage and assessed by peer review as part of the interview stage.