Interdisciplinarity and research on local issues: evidence from a developing country

Diego Chavarro, Puay Tang, and Ismael Rafols
Research Evaluation
This paper explores the relationship between interdisciplinarity and research pertaining to local
issues. Using Colombian publications from 1991 until 2011 in the Web of Science, we investigate
the relationship between the degree of interdisciplinarity and the local orientation of the articles.
We find that a higher degree of interdisciplinarity in a publication is associated with a greater
emphasis on Colombian issues. In particular, our results suggest that research that combines
cognitively disparate disciplines, what we refer to as distal interdisciplinarity, tends to be
associated with more local focus of research. We discuss the implications of these results in
the context of policies aiming to foster the local socio-economic impact of research in developing
countries.