Interdisciplinary research programs are needed to address complex medical and scientific issues. Such programs are difficult to launch, however, in part because scientists who might work in interdisciplinary teams often lack shared experiences and shared concepts. In this article, we report on a study that examined the extent of shared experience and understanding among participants in an emerging interdisciplinary medical research field; the study also documented participants' thoughts about changes they considered likely to take place if the interdisciplinary effort succeeded. Subjects generally agreed about the roles of their respective fields in the new effort, but their understanding of the objectives, methods, and language of other fields varied. Data show that subjects envision the new interdisciplinary field primarily as a centralizing and coordinating force. Concept mapping was a particularly successful research method applied to this group. This study yielded useful insights about commonalities among participants and identified areas for future development.
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Vol. 57 • No. 11