Organized Research Units (ORUs) are non-departmental units utilized by US research universities to support interdisciplinary research initiatives, among other goals. This study examined the impacts of ORUs at one large public research university, the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), using a large corpus of journal article metadata and abstracts for both faculty affiliated with UCD ORUs and a comparison set of other faculty. Using regression analysis, I find that ORUs appeared to increase the number of coauthors of affiliated faculty, but did not appear to directly affect publication or citation counts. Next, I frame interdisciplinarity in terms of a notion of discursive space, and use a topic model approach to situate researchers within this discursive space. The evidence generally indicates that ORUs promoted multidisciplinarity rather than interdisciplinarity. In the conclusion, drawing on work in philosophy of science on inter- and multidisciplinarity, I argue that multidisciplinarity is not necessarily inferior to interdisciplinarity.
Peer Review: https://publons.com/publon/10.1162/qss_a_00150