ods selectively from adjacent disciplines and then adapt them to their own purposes, as when one language adopts words from another? Or are new theories and methods transferred intact among disciplines, in the same way that a person might become fluent in two languages? “This is very much a practical issue, because methods are the syntax in which scientific competence is evaluated,” Yoshikawa said. “Levels of monolingual and bilingual competence are associated with academic success in your career, so this is something we have to think about when we mix theories and methods across careers and not just studies.”
Institutions also shape the policies and practices of science. Institutional incentives shape the topics that are studied, the methods used to study those topics, and the pathways of careers. These incentives help create models of learning that are marked by particular milestones. For example, tenure is a developmental milestone for researchers that can influence the content and methods of research. From this perspective, one can think of interventions designed to increase the diversity of research, the extent to which it extends across disciplines, its use of technology, access and equity issues, and so on.
Access and equity are especially important considerations, Yoshikawa said. Multidisciplinary projects in family research are usually started by senior investigators. The question then becomes whether institutional policies increase or reduce inequality in access to learning opportunities across different methods. “Do the more connected simply become better connected?”
MULTIDISCIPLINARY FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES
The mission of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), said Cheryl Anne Boyce, is to lead the nation in bringing the power of science to bear on drug abuse and addiction. That charge has two critical components: strategic support and conduct of research across a broad range of disciplines and ensuring the rapid and effective dissemination and use of the results of that research to improve prevention, treatment, and policy as it relates to drug abuse and addiction.
To achieve this mission, NIDA funds a wide variety of researchers—doctoral, clinical, and master’s-level investigators—to “produce strong research evidence and answer the problems to improve the nation’s health.” When initially reviewing a proposal or project, Boyce tends not to know what discipline people are in, because the projects NIDA supports are problem focused.
Yet NIDA faces the problem of a relative lack of multidisciplinary research teams, she said. NIDA supports grants with multiple principal investigators, enabling the creation of such teams. But this mechanism is