Report: Historians least likely among humanities PhD's to draw on other disciplines

Historians in the News
tags: interdisciplinary



Doctorate-holders in all disciplines are increasingly likely to describe their work as interdisciplinary. The indicators below explore the trend in interdisciplinary degrees and how far new PhDs travel from their home discipline. Other studies have shown that respondents have varied understandings of the meaning of “interdisciplinary” research, so these findings can only suggest the extent to which dissertation research is extending beyond any particular discipline, the direction in which such work extends, and how far researchers might have travelled from their primary discipline.

From 2003 to 2012, the share of new PhDs reporting that their “dissertation research was interdisciplinary” increased by 23% or more in each of the major academic fields (Indicator II-23a). The largest increase occurred in the humanities, where the proportion of doctorate recipients reporting interdisciplinary research rose from 26.5% in 2003 to 43.5% in 2012. The field with the largest percentage of 2012 PhDs describing their work as interdisciplinary was life sciences (45.3%). ...

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Among 2011–2013 PhDs reporting interdisciplinary work contained within the humanities, historians were the least likely to draw on another humanities discipline, with over 59% reporting another history subject as their secondary field (Indicator II-23d). The discipline of letters (which encompasses English and American languages and literatures, as well as creative writing and comparative literature) also had a relatively high level of new interdisciplinary PhDs who identified their secondary humanities emphasis as being within the same discipline (34.9%).




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