I currently hold a bachelors in Computer science and a masters in Art History. I really want to combine the two and I know of Digital Humanities but I’m not completely aware of where Digital Humanists could work besides Museums, libraries, etc. and even at museums and the such, I imagine that the demand for Digital humanists isn’t THAT large either. Does anyone have any idea of how I could combine art history and computer science and what kind of places could I work in? If I do go into digital humanities, do you think I’d be expected to work in cultural settings or could I still get a job at a purely science industry? Any response will be greatly appreciated!

This is an issue I frequently face. As a Biologist I like doing interdisciplinary Science. In fact because I believe interdisciplinarity is key to producing any truly insightful observation, at least in my field of work.

Typically I deal with arthropod morphology, allied to some biochemistry, with some conclusions relevant for general biology, ecology, evolution. Since recently I’ve added some molecular biology (i.e. DNA analyses) to this.

Now my problem is, my main expertise lies in morphology and natural history — because I have seen and read a lot of my bugs. But because of my interdisciplinary approach, I have some insights into what’s happening around. I just don’t know their protocols, don’t have their reagents, lack the experience and background knowhow to plan & analyse their results. However frequently I run into (minor) conflicts over interpreting their results in face of the bigger picture. Usually they get upset when I come up with a different final conclusion, and instead of trying to logically convince me otherwise they get all evasive repeating I am not qualified enough to discuss their work.

It will try to illustrate some typical situations.

  • A group of collaborators do some proteomic analysis of an organ, and come up with exciting compounds therein reported for the first time. But I do not understand why, out of a 15-lines-long list of potential candidates, the most exciting one is surely the correct identification. (I do have superficial understanding of database identification scores, but likely not as much as they [must] have, and would be delighted to learn more).

  • Some skilful biochemist isolate a compound as I suggested and starts on further bioassays but while using solvents and plastic labware. From my general experience around GC-MS machines and organic solvents, there will be an uncontrolled amount of phthalate esters released in the extracts which may account for significant effects. Even when alerted of this problem prior to procedures, plastic + solvents are used because “this is how we do it”. Some guy protested “ethanol isn’t exactly a solvent” when shutting his ears and going all offended.

  • A chemist will use antibiotics solutions which did not really solubilise, categorically stating “suspensions of medicines work”.

There are countless such cases. I try as best to be always prepared to receive their questions and skepticism around my own specialities as I feel confident enough to explain the rationale. And alas, they may be seeing something I did not. However I feel almost everyone else is unwilling to be questioned about their work, and this makes doing interdisciplinary science very hard!..

Please, could anyone else who does interdisciplinary work give me advice and opinions ?

[Please mind that e.g. some “evodevo” group composed of molecular biologists + ecologists is not really doing true interdisciplinary science when kicking around chemistry / morphology / taxonomy. Know-it-all wild-guessers are common in modern days of impact-factor-driven hype-science. I’d like to hear from truly multidisciplinary groups.]

I am currently working on a doctorate in Social Work with interests in integrating a more science based approach to the field. I’m specifically interested in neuroscience and biological bases of mental illness and trauma.

I have a bit of a Biology background (I was a premed major before switching to social sciences as an undergrad), but I feel like I need more background to participate in biological research. I’m trying to figure out the best way to fill this educational gap (a Biology post bac, a grad certificate, another master’s degree in Biology).

Any suggestions on how to conduct research across fields?

I am passionate about studying chemical physics and I would like to go to a university that has strong courses because I would like to have solid understanding. I would also like to do research with good professors. All the websites that have rankings only rank by subjects such as chemistry or physics but I cant find a place that ranks “chemical physics”. I have looked up the ranking of physics and chemistry for Ohio state since the chemical physics program is a collaboration between both departments but I am not sure if this enough. I would also like to know how Ohio state in chemical physics compares to other places with the same program.

Suppose one’s interests lie in applying computer science to multiple unrelated disciplines (to illustrate ‘unrelated’ let’s take economics, music technology, medicine as examples). Suppose also that one is capable of publishing research outputs in each of those disciplines in its on right, either as sole author or more often collaborating with domain specialists.

The most logical home for all that activity would be a computer science department, as computing is the common thread linking all the work, and with a CS skill set you’d be able to teach CS undergrad topics and bring a lot of experience to the table with respect to applying computing to other fields.

One disadvantage of this approach however is that the research output would likely not be particularly innovative CS in its own right, as the focus is on application.

Another disadvantage in the UK (possibly elsewhere) may relate to REF: the journals you publish in may not help a CS department with its REF return if they fall outside of its chosen Unit of Assessment (i.e. they’re in the ‘wrong’ subject, especially for subjects where lower journal impact factors are the norm).

Given these limitations is it possible to succeed as an academic on this path, either in the UK or internationally? How can the challenges be addressed and are there other challenges I’m missing?

I have an undergraduate science degree as well as a doctorate in science. (for background: as part of my post-doctoral research, I have collaborated with authors from science to business to sociology).

About four years ago, I’ve started studying philosophy on my own, as a personal interest/hobby. Never being formally enrolled in a philosophy degree, I read extensively from books / papers / journals on continental philosophy.

More recently I have decided to take the plunge and tried exploring one of my doctoral research subtopics, but from a philosophical angle. I made an attempt to write a single-authored paper in continental philosophy, which to my delight, was accepted and presented at a national conference. Since then, I have another piece of (again single-authored) work pending review / acceptance at another conference, which is again closely related to one of my subtopics. So, as it turns out, my hobby of philosophy could be combined with my original area of academia.

EDITED:

Q: Can I, then, be considered a “philosopher”

(a) amongst the sciences; and/or

(b) amongst the humanities…

…when it comes to describing my recent contributions to the discipline. Or, should I introduce my work as ‘science with classical philosophical knowledge’? (It is tricky, as philosophy evolved from being a hobby, so to speak, to becoming a practical area of research that would help in my career).

I am at the beginning of my Ph.D. My research lies at the intersection of cognitive neuroscience and psycholinguistics, meaning that I will interact with a variety of researchers from several different fields – which should substantially broaden my horizons. However, reading the literature strictly related to those areas means I’m far less likely to keep track of developments in other areas, such as biology, physics, or computer science.

My question: how well aware should I be about major science developments that are not directly related to my area? How useful is this information for your own work?