Identifying Journals

Publishing in Interdisciplinary Journals

Interdisciplinary Journals

What are Interdisciplinary Journals?

Journals which publish articles from a variety of fields are known as Interdisciplinary (ID) journals. They’re also journals that aren’t always related to one’s own field. They may or may not be “located” within a single discipline, but they serve a diverse range of subjects and fields. At the same time, these publications specialise in a particular field or publish a certain type of research—a speciality that crosses disciplinary boundaries.

How close are the disciplines involved?

  • Interdisciplinary co-operation between natural resource disciplines (fisheries, forestry, soil and crop science) is relatively easy to conceptualize and arrange because of shared fundamental principles (from chemistry, biology etc.).
  • Likewise interdisciplinary work between different social science disciplines (politics, economics, sociology) that share the same fundamental humanistic assumptions (from social philosophy, history, etc.).
  • It is considerably more difficult to arrange interdisciplinary research between the natural and social sciences, as they draw on different theoretical premises with differing epistemologies (positivism versus relativism, empiricism versus constructionism, explanation versus interpretation).

What are some of the reasons for writing for an ID journal?

  • You can achieve a wider impact since ID journal has broader audience.
  • Your own work is interdisciplinary.
  • Your work is problem (real-world problems) oriented.

What are some of the concerns about writing for an ID journal?

  • ID research is encouraged in theory, but it does not have the same status or discipline- specific research within institutional power structures, etc.
  • For example, if you want to have your work assessed for promotion purposes, ID journals are not rated highly as mono-disciplinary journals.
  • These are challenges faced by interdisciplinary writers.

How to choose words in ID?

  • The chosen word should be understandable by all the people. For example, German archaeologists don’t have the same understanding of the concept of ‘archaeological record’ that English or American archaeologist do, so avoid using that term.
  • Quantitative analyses can also be published but it has to be written in such a way that it would be accessible to non-specialists, because most of the readers are not specialist in this areas.

Choosing a journal

  • Try to avoid disciplinary journals because they tend to be narrow as well. They will serve the needs of a particular discipline only.
  • Try to be more free to do research in every field publish in any journal. The quality of scholarship is the matter and not the exact journal.

Challenges faced by ID Researchers

  • Some of the challenges are simply related to methodology, in terms of people presenting a methodology in a way which assumes that others will be able to follow that and understand what different statistical tests are showing etc. So, it should be more clearly explained.
  • Apart from interdisciplinary differences, you should be aware that although there might be a convergence of disciplines, there might be a divergence within those disciplines between different countries.

Having an open mind for interdisciplinary journals

  • When attending conferences, try to go to sessions that are in areas that you don’t know much about or don’t work in to learn more.
  • Collaborative writing is about changing your mind-set, you have to respect differences (All people have different mind-set).
  • Experience: The more you do ID research, the more you are able to understand each other.

 IDRD Project

  • Investigating interdisciplinary research discourse (IDRD) is a project run between the Centre for Corpus Research and the Elsevier.
  • It constructed Corpus of 11 Journals (6 interdisciplinary and 5 multi-disciplinary) in period 2001 to 2010 over 11,000 full articles.
  • It uses variety of linguistic approaches to analyse data.

What characterizes ID writing?

  • Identify – ID writers adopt a different identity as writer.
  • Audience awareness – ID authors show more awareness of their audience.
  • In some cases, it is observed that a writer accommodates to ID readership. Also, other writers treat alterative disciplinary approaches as significant or problematic.
  • Difference depend on how close the disciplines are to each other (narrow ID) or how distant (broader ID).
  • However, there is no set of language features have been identified which neatly divide the ID journals from mono-disciplinary journals.

Guidance booklet

There is a guidance booklet for ID journals in Elsevier website for fresher’s who to start article in ID journal.   

Some of the main points in this booklet are:

  • Select and then study your journal.
  • Situate your research in a broader range of literature.
  • Emphasise the relevance to the ‘real’ world.
  • What does your paper offer that is innovative in this field of ID research?
  • Explain terms for a non-specialist.
  • Relate your research to other relevant research from different disciplines.


  • It is an open- access journal focusing on ID research. It publishes journals across life, physical and earth-sciences.
  •  Editors seek and highlight research that crosses boundaries.

What are iScience doing?

  • At iScience, they are highlighting and supporting science, on top of selecting the best interdisciplinary studies.
  • Discussing with the authors the challenges around interdisciplinary research from language barriers to proximity to funding. Have a look at the backstories published at the back of truly interdisciplinary studies.
  • Building new communities with the launch of special issues.
  • Organizing interdisciplinary workshops in which they discuss what is mean by interdisciplinary studies and how institutes can support this type of research.

Some examples of interdisciplinary studies

  1. Science that is inherently interdisciplinary
  2. Science that inspires
  3. Science that is looking at the same question from different angles.

What are the Challenges the editors face with ID Science.

  • Understanding the broader implications of research that crosses the boundaries.
  • Selecting the most impactful research.
  • Managing the peer-review process.
  • From reviewers recruitment to guiding the authors through the revision process, and mediating between reviewers and authors.

What are the strategies that editors use?

  • Keep up with the latest research, going to conferences and site visit in ID institutes.
  • Building communities across disciplines (Special Issues).
  • Consulting with experts in the various fields.
  • Consulting with editors within the publishing group.

Importance of Editorial Board

A highly engaged editorial board will do following activities.

  1. Support in decision making.
  2. Establishing connections within communities.
  3. Editorial initiatives (eg: Special Issues).

What can researchers do?

  • Authors could make the best use of cover letters. Cover letter are your two minutes in the room with the editors. You have the chance to explain the scientific question you are trying to answer and the potential implications across fields and why it is important to respond to this question.
  • Authors can help editors by suggesting relevant reviewers. Editors appreciate reviewer’s suggestions, but please avoid suggesting former collaborators.
  • Editors will endeavour to respect reasonable reviewer’s exclusions.

Tips for writing ID journals

Before submitting an article to an ID publication, there are a few things to think about.

  • The Researcher Contribution – Set up the question you are trying to address and say why it’s interesting and important.
  • Writing your introduction – Focus on telling the reader (non-specialist) the basics that they need to know to understand the story.
  • Writing about writing – Explain about the concepts and how the text is organized in your work.
  • Focus Vocabulary – Avoid jargon because these are special words used by profession or group that are difficult to understand by non-specialists.
  • Writing about yourself and others – Based on your chosen journal preferences, ensure whether a personal style is vital for the information you want to express.

To know more about ID journals, Click here

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