HR is surprise area of interdisciplinary strength

March 11, 2010

For academics wary of managerialism, it may come as a shock to learn that "human resources management and public policy" is the UK's strongest area of interdisciplinary research.

An analysis by the research-data specialist Elsevier found that the social science-focused field was the clear leader in an assessment of about 220 interdisciplinary research strengths.

Research into data-mining, which combines subjects including computer science, maths and engineering, was the UK's second strongest area, while research focused on species and ecology, which incorporates biology, earth sciences and chemistry, was third. In both these areas, the UK ranked as the second most productive nation globally.

Two fields of interdisciplinary research identified as strong "emerging areas" were virology and climate change modelling, both of which have seen an increase of about 20 per cent in the number of published papers over the past five years.

The analysis was conducted using a new Elsevier tool called SciVal Spotlight.

It considered a wide range of interdisciplinary research clusters across science and the social sciences to determine areas in which the UK was the strongest, based on factors such as the number of papers produced and their citation patterns.

Of 65,000 papers covering HR management and public policy produced worldwide over the five-year period studied, 26 per cent were produced in the UK.

Niels Weertman, who developed the tool for Elsevier, said the results "provide insight into what the UK's strengths are to help policymakers decide what to nurture".

The findings were released on 3 March at a reception held by the 1994 Group of smaller research-intensive universities, which was found to have produced 17 per cent of all papers in the top competency.

Paul Wellings, chair of the group and vice-chancellor of Lancaster University, said: "This analysis tells us something about 220 interdisciplinary areas that are emerging but that none of us would have guessed from other processes of identification."

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