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Organisational incentives

Here are five activities and a project, designed by Graduate Spirit participants as organizational incentives for interdisciplinarity. They involve funds dedicated to interdisciplinary research or PhD positions, and pooling resources of different units for interdisciplinary training. Other measures are about supporting the work of interdisciplinary groups that include PhDs and providing a prize for interdisciplinary PhD research projects. You may also offer waivers to staff from different disciplines who deliver a course at your graduate school or support co-teaching by staff from different disciplines.

Activity: Dedicate funds for interdisciplinary research projects, which may also include positions for PhD candidates on those topics.

One example of this are the Research Excellence Initiatives at EGSH. EUR, as the mother institute of EGSH, has invested great amounts in promoting interdisciplinarity. For this aim, since several years, competitive project subsidies are offered within the EUR. One of the effects is a large number of (additional) research positions and PhD candidates. Within the framework of the so-called Research Excellence Initiatives, Erasmus University Rotterdam is providing a major financial boost for seven leading research groups.

Another example is the IDI Doctorale Programme: IdEx Interdisciplinarity Initiative. The Scientific Cooperation Foundation Campus Paris-Saclay promotes interdisciplinarity by funding approximately 30 doctoral contracts annually, which begin in October of each calendar year. Candidates are interviewed and assessed by the various doctoral schools, but a specific interdisciplinary jury selects the final PhD candidates. Those selected are offered a specific complementary programme, organized by IdEx, thus participating in developing interdisciplinarity within the doctoral programme. This initiative is open to all scientific research teams of IdEx Paris-Saclay, subject only to the condition that they demonstrate sound scientific quality and interdisciplinarity. The last call for projects took place in 2017. There has not been an IDI call for projects in 2018.

A third example has also been developed by UVSQ: their Laboratories of Excellence. This involves a doctoral contract funded by an institute or the  Laboratory of Excellence (LabEx) Investment in the Future Programme. The joint research strategy of Paris-Saclay University partners has facilitated the funding of ambitious, cross-institutional and/or interdisciplinary research programmes, led by the Laboratories of Excellence and institutes. In certain cases, these programmes comprise PhD projects, which will be subject to a call for applications by LabEx and involved institutes.

Activity: Promote training on interdisciplinary perspectives by federating the training resources of the research units.

Activity: Support the work of interdisciplinary research groups or units who engage PhD candidates in their work.

An example of this activity is the LinX-SHS Interdisciplinary Laboratory of the Polytechnic School of Humanities and Social Sciences at UVSQ. Some research units associated with the Humanities and Social Sciences division are interdisciplinary (for instance the I3 SES Interdisciplinary Institute of Innovation, the LinX-SHS Interdisciplinary Laboratory of the Polytechnic School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and SLAM Synergies Languages Arts Music). Each year, 10% of the financing of UVSQ is specifically dedicated to interdisciplinary doctoral projects. As a result, numerous research teams are involved in highly interdisciplinary activities and engaged in interdisciplinary doctoral projects.

A second example is the Peer Mentoring scheme, organized at Heidelberg University. The HGGS offers a Peer Mentoring scheme that allows PhD members to organize an interdisciplinary workshop or seminar. For this scheme, a group of PhD members from different disciplines comes together to formulate a proposal for an academic activity (a workshop, seminar or conference) that will be funded by the HGGS. The topic has to be interdisciplinary to capture the interest and participation of a larger group of PhD members.

Activity: Offer teaching waivers for faculty members from different faculties of the university, who engage in delivering interdisciplinary courses at your graduate school.

Activity: Support co-teaching of courses by faculty members from different disciplinary backgrounds.

An example are the university-wide courses taught at the Central European University (DSPS).

Project: Offer a special prize for PhD candidates to encourage interdisciplinary research projects.

Example: At UVSQ, the GS SHS prize is going to be awarded to encourage scientific risk-taking, excellence and interdisciplinarity and to promote doctoral programmes and doctoral students. This is part of a prize policy for doctoral schools, set up in 2016 at Paris Saclay University.

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