Transdisciplinary research

At Waipapa Taumata Rau | The University of Auckland we are committed to creating transformative impact through transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary research.

The University has made a strong commitment to transdisciplinary research as part of its strategic plan, Taumata Teitei.  

Transdisciplinary research transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries by integrating diverse types of knowledge, perspectives, and methods from academic and non-academic participants to create novel solutions to complex problems.

The commitment to transdisciplinarity is aligned to the University’s purpose of creating transformative impacts from its research and recognises that transdisciplinary approaches are often required to address the kinds of complex societal challenges currently facing Aotearoa and the Pacific. 

Transdisciplinary research initiatives at UoA

Support initiatives for transdisciplinary research at the University are inclusive of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research, recognising the diversity of research practice at the University and the support needed to cross disciplinary boundaries and engage with non-academic stakeholders.

Interdisciplinary research, which primarily involves academic participants, is often the precursor to transdisciplinary research and is viewed as a crucial contributor to a University’s reputation for research excellence and impact.   

The University hosts and supports a diverse range of transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary research initiatives, including: 

These initiatives are enabled by institutional investment in research infrastructure and local research support staff, including Research Operations Managers and Coordinators, Research Programme Managers, Technical Services Managers, and Research Engagement Managers.   

Indicators of success and metrics

Funders and rankings agencies are increasingly seeking indicators of success in transdisciplinary research, which the University will seek to measure through:  

  • Institutional investment in transdisciplinary research, such as the Transdisciplinary Ideation Fund.
  • Other collaboration metrics, such as co-funding and co-supervision.
  • Academic dissemination and attention metrics.
  • Innovation and entrepreneurship, such as patents, licenses, and start-up companies.
  • Co-authorship and other bibliometrics. For example, a review of Scopus-indexed publications by University researchers between 2018 – 2022 showed that 74% of publications were either associated with two or more Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or published in journals covering two or more discrete disciplines (as measured by Australia New Zealand Standard Research Classification Codes (ANZSRCs) and all Science Journal Classification (ASJC) subject areas).   
  • Societal outcomes and impacts. 

To support the realisation of societal impact from our research entities, we focus on creating an environment with relevant support systems and infrastructure for impact to thrive. We also work with research teams to create bespoke impact indicator frameworks, encompassing relevant qualitative and quantitative indicators, to support them to drive meaningful impact.