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Reinvention: An Interdisciplinary Research Toolbox

Peter Halat, Monash University

Another six months have passed, and I would like to stress the continued importance of Reinvention's mission of showcasing interdisciplinary undergraduate research (Metcalfe, 2008). Once again, I attended this year's iteration of the International Conference of Undergraduate Research (ICUR, http://www.icurportal.com/), and was treated to a variety of different presentations. What stood out to me this year was the diversity of research methods used, encompassing both primary and secondary research. I sense that within the realm of my own discipline, I am only exposed to a specific set of techniques, and by getting involved with interdisciplinary research I am able to learn about a whole new set of methods. This is not a coincidence, as ICUR is constructed to encourage discussion between research areas. Panels are themed not by area of study, but interdisciplinary topics such as Energy, Sustainability and Understanding Cultures. An ICUR presenter from the University of Warwick summarises the effects of this wonderfully:

Regardless of our disciplines we all could talk to each other and appreciate each other's ideas and ways of thinking. ICUR was also a vehicle for us to come together and link disciplines together that traditionally aren't considered complementary.
Honey, University of Warwick

Indeed, ICUR looks to break traditionally conceived barriers between research areas and bring them together to tackle widespread, contemporary issues. In my previous editorial for Reinvention, I commented on how research disciplines are becoming increasingly specialised (Halat, 2018). A narrower view of available research methods could be a consequence of this increased specialisation. Increasingly pertinent and complex issues require multiple perspectives, such as worldwide energy consumption (Schuitema and Sintov, 2017). Brown et al. (2015) suggest that researchers become 'T-shaped'; that is, not only specialised in one field but to also open to others. Furthermore, the authors describe the process of becoming a 'T-shaped' researcher as a process over time, where one oscillates between being too dominant or too passive with respect to one's research discipline. Part of this compromise is to nurture plain discussions between disciplines, to which Reinvention contributes by being a unified platform of discussion between research areas. This aligns with Schuitema and Sintov's (2017) suggestion, to equip academics early with training towards interdisciplinary research. Reinvention pushes this one step further by encouraging and equipping undergraduate students to conduct interdisciplinary research. In fact, there is an increasing appreciation for research with broader impacts beyond specific fields, as evidenced by the Nobel Prizes for both physics and chemistry this year being awarded partly for their wider applications to biological systems. This also highlights the necessity of considering the implications of your research to a broader context, and communicating this clearly, something which each of the articles published in this issue has done.

Reinvention's editorial team has been committed to guiding papers through the peer-review process. Every single editor has been directly involved with helping at least one paper in this issue towards publication. The peer-review process benefits both authors and members of the editorial board, where authors gather valuable feedback about their work and editors learn about transferable writing skills to implement in their own work. Our editorial board's work has resulted in eight quality peer-reviewed articles being published in this issue. Furthermore, this issue also contains student and academic reviews of three books, reinforcing the value of staff/student collaboration in Reinvention and undergraduate research in what will be a transitional period.

The eight articles presented here will hopefully give you as a reader and researcher some methods to think about for the future. We begin with Claire F. Brace's literature review on the effects of ocean acidification on reef corals, which stands out with all the hallmarks of a great literature review: the continued analysis and synthesis of previous studies to draw out original conclusions. Claire's article also sets an example of how secondary research can still form an impactful contribution to a field, especially as Claire elucidates the need for more research to be performed.

Ha Bich Dong and Jayoung Koo present a hybrid style of research in analysing advertisements from BMW. Note their summary of literature in Table 1, which stands as an effective way to contrast previous studies. Be sure to examine the themes they have coded from looking at the advertisements, and how this constructs a framework for primary data analysis.

Moving back to secondary research, Miguel Paolo Galsim analyses Australia's involvement with the 1979–81 Iran hostage crisis. Not only is the paper well written in its flow and use of timelines, but Miguel also examines the hostage crisis through the lens of a model of societal actor pressure. This research method is especially great at bringing out the broader implications of research through contrast of other events analysed under the same framework. Moreover, one can even critically evaluate the framework itself, as Miguel has done, further adding to academic discussion.

Next is a STEM-focused paper, where Jeremy Holzke and Joanna A. Waller examine whether or not optimal interpolation can combine two existing data sets from aircraft and atmospheric measurements to improve weather forecasting accuracy. This method of assimilating can be applied to a variety of contexts, specifically interdisciplinary research. Note that although data assimilation falls slightly short of the required accuracy for practice, the results displayed in their paper still form a contribution to their field.

Jasmine Hoi Ching Ng from the University of Hong Kong looks at the morphosyntactic development of a bilingual child. As is a common and effective way to conduct research, Jasmine analyses data in reference to two previously established frameworks of speech development. Jasmine's analysis of a single child's speech development still adds to the academic discussion of the psychology of bilingualism, especially considering how rarely English–Cantonese bilinguals are studied.

Clodagh Murphy from the University of Sheffield directly compares three works from the seventeenth century against a framework developed in the twentieth century about ho(m)mo-sexual monopolies. This use of a newer framework to analyse older pieces adds a fresh perspective and brings a modern aspect to the analysis. Clodagh successfully picks apart each text to highlight that Aphra Behn critiqued the misogyny of the seventeenth century, in contrast to Thomas Otway and Thomas Shadwell, who trivialised the problem.

Swinging back into STEM is Brandon James Milne Robertson, with a study of optimising lift-to-drag ratios of wings in ground effect. Brandon takes the particularly important step of justifying the research methodology by reproducing results published in literature. Furthermore, Brandon uses the research to identify the factors of a wing that are most important, a result which most certainly adds to academic discussion.

Finally, complementing Jasmine's work on speech bilingualism are Emma P. Shipley and Jody H. Cripps, with their research on professionals working with students with delays/disorders in signed language development. The focus on professional staff as well as students allows the research to have broad impacts on the whole field of signed language development, and the article is thoroughly able to highlight issues within the field.

The book reviews in this issue cover a variety of contemporary issues. Katja Laug from the University of Warwick and Shanika Palawaththa from Monash University have written a joint review of Tim Marshall's Prisoner's of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics. The book explains a geographic influence to different governments, with Katja and Shanika working well together to evaluate Marshall's exposition. Connor Allen from Monash University and Pietari Kaapa from the University of Warwick review #Republic, Divided Democracy in the Age of Social Media, examining critically the book's ability to communicate the role of social media in politics. Lastly, David Mond from the University of Warwick and Loren Pugh from Monash University both review Mark Denny's Making the Most of the Anthropocene, which focuses on humanity's impact on the environment to the point of labelling our modern era the Anthropocene.

Looking towards the future, Reinvention is undergoing a transitional phase in terms of both staff and visuals. Expect to see some new faces on our editorial board, as well as our next issue to be published on a new platform!


References

Brown, R. R., A. Deletic and T. H. F. Wong (2015), 'Interdisciplinarity: How to catalyse collaboration', Nature, 525, 315–17.

Halat, P. (2018), 'Reinvention: Communicating Undergraduate Research from Increasing Specialised Disciplines', Reinvention: An International Journal of Undergraduate Research, Volume 11, Issue 1, available at https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/cross_fac/iatl/reinvention/archive/volume11issue1/editorial/, accessed 15 October 2018

Metcalfe, D. (2008), 'Reinventing the Journal?', Reinvention: An International Journal of Undergraduate Research, Volume 1, Issue 1, available at http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/go/reinventionjournal/volume1issue1/metcalfe, accessed 13 October 2018

Nobel Media AB (2018), 'Nobel Prizes and Laureates – NobelPrize.org', available at https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/lists/all-nobel-prizes/, accessed 19 October 2018

Schuitema, G. and N. D. Sintov (2017), 'Should we quit our jobs? Challenges, barriers and recommendations of interdisciplinary energy research', Energy Policy, 101, 246–50

 

To cite this paper please use the following details: Halat, P. (2018), 'Reinvention: An Interdisciplinary Research Toolbox', Reinvention: an International Journal of Undergraduate Research, Volume 11, Issue 2, http://www.warwick.ac.uk/reinventionjournal/archive/volume11issue2/editorial. Date accessed [insert date]. If you cite this article or use it in any teaching or other related activities please let us know by e-mailing us at Reinventionjournal at warwick dot ac dot uk.