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Multidisciplinary research: should effort be the measure of success?

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journal contribution
posted on 14.06.2016, 12:36 by Richard Buswell, Lynda Webb, Val Mitchell, Kerstin Leder Mackley
Energy demand reduction and flexible demand from dwellings will play a critical role in achieving a low carbon future. There remain many unanswered questions around the interaction of people with their environment and the technical systems that service them and as a result, multidisciplinary research is a principle component of research funding internationally. There is, however, relatively little published work that considers the operational issues in undertaking epistemologically diverse, academic research projects. This paper makes a contribution by quantifying the operational effort involved in data collection on a large multidisciplinary project and connecting the operational issues encountered to knowledge production. The paper finds that cost of the data gathering to be £46,000/home and participants can give upwards of 217 hours of their time per house, engaging with data gathering activities. The rate of knowledge production is found to be approximately 3 publication/FTE over the lifetime of the project and the risk to generating interdisciplinary insights is shown to be dependent on largely unforeseeable operational issues that compound the characteristic differences in the collection of the data utilised by social and technical research communities.


This paper is an output from the LEEDR: Low Effort Energy Demand Reduction project (Grant number, EP/I000267/1), funded through the RCUKs, digital Economy and Energy programmes’ TEDDI initiative.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering

Published in

Building Research and Information: the international journal of research, development and demonstration


BUSWELL, R.A. ...et al., 2017. Multidisciplinary research: should effort be the measure of success?. Building Research and Information, 45 (5), pp. 539-555.


© Taylor & Francis


AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Building Research and Information on 13th July 2016, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/09613218.2016.1194601.






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