Elsevier and the University of Birmingham Launch First Large Scale Investigation Analysing Discourse Used in Interdisciplinary Research

Elsevier, a world-leading provider of scientific, technical and medical information products and services, and the University of Birmingham, UK, the Times University of the Year in 2013, announce the launch of an Investigation of the Discourse of Interdisciplinary Research (IDRD). It is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (UK).

Research is increasingly bringing together scientists from different fields and this investigation aims to analyse how this development is reflected in the language used in scholarly articles and how trends in the discourse used can support research policy development.

IDRD was launched on 30 August 2013 and will run for two years under the direction of Dr Paul Thompson, Director of the Centre for Corpus Research at The University of Birmingham. The investigation will be based on content published in Elsevier’s journal Global Environmental Change, a highly interdisciplinary journal, and a group of selected control Elsevier journals. Corpus linguistics, a relatively new area of analysis for applied linguistic research, will be used to examine the discourse employed in the journals. Elsevier will provide free access to the journals’ content allowing for full text mining of the papers published. Elsevier will also provide analytical support and will help contact journal editors, reviewers, and authors for additional qualitative surveys and interviews.

“I am delighted that Elsevier are providing access to the content required for this study, including the complete holdings of Global Environmental Change. This will allow us to conduct corpus linguistics analyses of research articles on a scale never attempted before,” said Dr Paul Thompson.

“We are excited and proud to support the University of Birmingham in this investigation. Interdisciplinarity in research is changing the ways in which both scholars and publishers work, and we welcome this initiative to analyze and better understand it,” said David Clark, Senior Vice President of life sciences and social sciences journal publishing at Elsevier.

With the results of the investigation both Elsevier and the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Corpus Research aim to provide research councils with a fuller understanding of the distinctive features of discourse practices in interdisciplinary research. They hope to be able to deliver insights into the nature of communication between researchers from different disciplines so that interdisciplinary research can be better promoted and managed.