There’s this question about doing research in two very different fields, but my question is somewhat different. I have serious academic interests in two very different fields: one in computer science/mathematics, but the other would be considered comparative literature/cultural studies. I could hardly think of any way to combine those two academic interests (well, I know of digital humanities, but that is not what I exactly want to do).

Nevertheless, I wish to continue research in both areas as an academic, although not necessarily at the same time. Clearly, a possible route is to go one way and then do another PhD and switch mid-career, but I am not sure if this is a good idea. But on the other hand, I am not sure if this is even possible without a mid-career career change.

I am working on a Veni (introductory individual) grant application to the Dutch Organization for Science, NWO. My proposal is interdisciplinary in its methodology, but firmly rooted in historical linguistis concerning its research question.

I wonder about the pros and cons of submitting my application to humanities (SGW) or as interdisciplinary (DO, for domein-overschrijdend) proposal.

I know that the domain will affect the choice of reviewers/committee members who get to judge the proposal, and that I will have to tailor my application to it.

What is unclear to me, however, is whether there are other factors that mean I should choose one or the other. In particular, are there differences in funding structure and application counts that would mean there is an expected difference in the success chances of an SGW versus a DO application?

NWO have changed their application structure this year. Applications in the domains of humanities or technology (but not interdisciplinary applications between the domains) now need to submit a pre-proposal which needs to be accepted before one is allowed to submit the full application. This was introduced to reduce the workload of referees, which to me suggests that the quota of applicants to grants in humanities and technologies is larger than elsewhere. However, when I asked NWO staff about the difference between the humanities and the DO application procedure, they did only mention the effect on reviewers, not any difference in funds. Are there summary statistics or funding allocation descriptions available online that would show whether a DO application has an a priori higher chance of success?

I am currently a masters student that is due to finish early next year. I have a scholarship which covers costs and pays me a modest wage up until and including PhD. I would like to do my PhD but I am concerned about the job opportunities that will be available to me after graduating due to my age and skill set. I would be in my mid 30’s when graduating and would like to work in a non academic, non laboratory environment after graduating. At some time later in life I would like to return to academia but at least after graduating I would prefer to not do so.
How are somewhat older PhD’s perceived by employers outside of academia ? Do they have a harder time being employed ? I have read PhD’s are often considered over qualified or to focused in their knowledge making them not as desirable to employers, is this still the case ?

I want to go to grad school for computer engineering. I am in a non-STEM major. My GPA could be better. However, a lot of my prior undergrad research has been in interdisciplinary work ( mixing Computer Science with ethnography or sociology ). All together, I have about 4 research experiences in my undergrad career in either pure Computer Science or Computer Science mixed with ethno/soc. How will this affect my chances of being admitted into grad school for directly into a PhD?
Also if I just decide to do a Masters, how much does prior undergrad research correlate to funding for a Master’s?

I am a part-time PhD student coming towards the end of my first year – I have another five years left. My PhD is in Music and I do like my topic a lot. However, in the last 18 months I have also become very interested in an area that is not that related to music – computing and open source. I started looking at it as something extra to learn before my PhD started and am now finding it difficult to put down. As well as this, I would like to integrate some aspects of what I have learned into my PhD. I just don’t really know what and how.

Is this something that I should bring up with my PhD supervisor or should I just “put up or shut up”? She may think it’s a bit weird to mention it since she will probably feel that it doesn’t really relate, however, computing (and its related ethics) are fundamental to the ways in which we undertake academic research these days. We’ve even had a few classes on software use. I feel that I could probably link the two in some way but little has come up yet which is obvious, though it may well present itself in the future. From past experience I tend to function at my academic best when integrating different challenging interests into my learning and I would love to integrate my learning of computing into my music PhD. I feel I have learned – and applied – a lot and I want to continue learning alongside my music learning and to combine the two in my topic.

Question: should I raise this with my supervisor, float some ideas past her about this or should I just ignore it? If I do the latter the question may well come back to haunt me further down the line. I don’t think I “can” (nor do I want to) give this up, well, not without forcing myself to since it fascinates me. Do others have experience of wanting to mix in new ideas/subjects into their PhDs and how did you go about it?

For clarification – the PhD in Music is ethnomusicological, i.e. the PhD is to do with the study of music in culture and as culture rather than composition or performance.

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.