Interdisciplinarity and research on local issues: evidence from a developing country

Diego Chavarro, Puay Tang, and Ismael Rafols
Research Evaluation

This paper explores the relationship between interdisciplinarity and research pertaining to local

issues. Using Colombian publications from 1991 until 2011 in the Web of Science, we investigate

the relationship between the degree of interdisciplinarity and the local orientation of the articles.

We find that a higher degree of interdisciplinarity in a publication is associated with a greater

emphasis on Colombian issues. In particular, our results suggest that research that combines

cognitively disparate disciplines, what we refer to as distal interdisciplinarity, tends to be

associated with more local focus of research. We discuss the implications of these results in

the context of policies aiming to foster the local socio-economic impact of research in developing