The Future of Interdisciplinary Research in the Digital Era: Obstacles and Perspectives of Collaboration in Social and Data Sciences - An Empirical Study

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In the last decade, a transition in research design and methodology is identified in social research methodology; however, the high entry threshold (i.e., technical knowledge) to utilize computational methods and the ethical concerns seem to slow down the process. A possible way out is that social sciences collaborate with computational or data scientists in interdisciplinary research projects to rely on each other’s skills and to develop jointly accepted ethical principles. In this exploratory study, we collected data from researchers with a variety of academic backgrounds to find out their views of interdisciplinary projects and related methodological or ethical issues. Our findings derived from one-on-one interviews (n = 22) reinforce the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration and highlight the significance of “interpreters,” i.e., individuals able to communicate with and connect various areas of science, education, and academic institutions’ role in enhancing interdisciplinary collaborations of sciences. Additional concerns of participants emerged in terms of research methodology applied in the digital world (i.e., data validity, credibility and research ethics). Finally, participants identified open science and the transparency of research as the key to the future development of social sciences.