To read this content please select one of the options below:

Information science: an interdisciplinary effort?

George Adam Holland (Department of Humanities and Social Science, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 18 January 2008




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the nature of collaboration within information science, to argue for distinct meanings for interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research and to answer two questions: What philosophic distinction can be made between inter‐ and multi‐disciplinary efforts? Is one more valuable than the other to information science research?


The semantic inconsistency for describing collaboration is identified in information science. Philosophic analysis of the terms interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary is conducted, arguing for distinct meanings. A case study through cognitive science exploring the philosophic meanings is developed.


Interdisciplinarity and multidisciplinarity are very distinct in terms of methods and frameworks. Interdisciplinary research has longer‐term benefits for information science, but multidisciplinary research can also fulfil valid collaborative roles in information science.

Research limitations/implications

A brief technical discussion of cognitive science theory lends itself to those interested in cognitive science. The paper is philosophic in nature.

Practical implications

The inconsistencies surrounding the terms interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary have impact on professional practice. The argument for more consistent terminology will introduce more semantic integrity and reduce miscommunication. There is a challenge to engage in more interdisciplinary research and practice within information science.


Collaboration is a common term used, but little research into what it precisely means within information science has been conducted. The paper argues for a clear distinction between various types of collaboration, and provides a case study with cognitive science.



Adam Holland, G. (2008), "Information science: an interdisciplinary effort?", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 64 No. 1, pp. 7-23.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles