Interdisciplinarity and industry collaboration in doctoral candidature: tensions within and between discourses

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Existing tensions within and between the discourses permeating doctoral candidature are being exacerbated by those of interdisciplinarity and industry collaboration. Drawing on the author's experience as a doctoral candidate within a cooperative research centre, this article interrogates the conflicting and challenging pressures placed on candidates and their supervisors in interdisciplinary and industry collaborative environments in the humanities, arts and social sciences. The article questions the common assumption that 'more (disciplines) is better' to address complex social, economic and environmental problems. It highlights the ways in which interdisciplinary and industry-led projects can inadvertently silo the doctoral candidate and the problem to be 'solved' within dominant ontological, epistemological and political frameworks. The article calls on supervisors and candidates to adopt the role of negotiators and translators in complex research relationships. It concludes that in some cases, discipline-specific, independent research may provide the novel and innovative answers required to address 'real-world' problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)546-559
Number of pages14
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • discourse
  • doctoral candidature
  • doctoral education
  • doctoral supervision
  • industry collaboration
  • interdisciplinarity

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