Interdisciplinary projects as an expert-network: analysing team work across biological and physical sciences

Neil Stephens, Phil Stephens

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We report an analysis of how an interdisciplinary project bringing together biologists, physicists and engineers worked in practice. The authorship team are the Principle Investigator who led the project, and a social scientist who studied the project as it was conducted by interviewing participants and observing practice. We argue it is accurate and productive to think of the interdisciplinary team as an Expert-Network, which means it was a managed set of relationships between disciplinary groups punctuated by specific junctions at which interdisciplinary exchange of materials, knowledge, and in limited cases, practices, occurred. We stress the role of trust in knowledge exchange, and document how hard sharing knowledge – and especially tacit knowledge - between disciplines can be. Key is the flexible management of the network, as the membership and required skill set change. Our analysis is embedded within, and contributes to, the Sociology of Experience and Expertise (SEE) framework. We close by suggesting advice for others seeking to manage a similar interdisciplinary Expert-Network.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScience & Technology Studies
Early online date23 Mar 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Mar 2021


  • Interdisciplinarity
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Expert-Network
  • Biology
  • Physical sciences


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