Seeking evidence of multidisciplinarity in environmental geochemistry and health: an analysis of arsenic in drinking water research

Abiodun D. Aderibigbe, Alex G. Stewart, Andrew S. Hursthouse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A multidisciplinary approach to research affords the opportunity of objectivity, creation of new knowledge and potentially a more generally acceptable solution to problems that informed the research in the first place. It increasingly features in national programmes supporting basic and applied research, but for over 40 years, has been the arena for many research teams in environmental geochemistry and health. This study explores the nature of multidisciplinary research in the earth and health sciences using a sample selected from co-authored articles reporting research on arsenic (As) in drinking water from 1979 to 2013. A total of 889 relevant articles were sourced using the online version of the science citation index – expanded (SCI - Expanded). The articles were classified according to author affiliation and later by author discipline/research
interests using the Revised Field of Science and Technology (FOS) Frascati manual
DSTI/EAS/STP/NESTI (2006) 19/FINAL and a decision algorithm. Few articles were published on the topic until 2000. More articles were published across all affiliations in the last ten years of the review period (2004 - 2013) than in the first ten years (1979 - 1988). Only 84 (~9%) articles fell within the “earth and health” only and “earth, health and other” categories when classification was undertaken by author affiliation alone. This suggests that level of collaboration between earth and health scientists in arsenic in drinking water research may be very low. By refining the classification further using author discipline/research interests, only 28 of the 84 articles appear to be co-authored by earth and health scientists alongside professionals in other fields. More than half of these articles
30 involved descriptive non experimental, observational study designs, limited in direct causal hypotheses and mechanistic investigation. If collaborative research is to lead to increased multidisciplinary research, early interaction should be encouraged between students from different disciplines. In order to achieve multidisciplinarity in practise, it is imperative that scientific communities and research agencies do more to encourage interaction and integration between researchers from different disciplines. This must develop from educational institutions seeing opportunities to improve graduate skills in an increasingly diverse research landscape.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-413
Number of pages19
JournalEnvironmental Geochemistry and Health
Volume40
Issue number1
Early online date24 Feb 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018

Keywords

  • arsenic
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • multidisciplinary
  • Interdisciplinary
  • health
  • exposure

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