Multidisciplinary research for greater impact

Working in multidisciplinary teams is increasingly essential, but it’s not always easy. The problems that can easily be solved with the single lens of one discipline have largely been solved. What remains are complex, “wicked” problems that require collaborative efforts across several disciplines. The complexity of future challenges is likely to increase rather than decrease, meaning multidisciplinary research will remain essential in the future.

Aerial view of crowd connected by linesUniversity of Melbourne Health Economics Group (UMHEG) is a cross-faculty network of health economists conducting collaborative applied and methodological research. UMHEG met on  31 May for the Annual Workshop to share academic work and research.

Highlighting the importance of multidisciplinary research, was the theme of this year’s program. Dr Justin McKinley, Nossal Institute for Global Health, discussed a systems approach to One Health, with multiple disciplines working together to share costs and benefits across the animal, human, and environmental sectors. He led a conversation among the group regarding the role economics plays in supporting the One Health approach and what areas of economics are likely most important in these efforts. There were enlightening discussions on the role of economic evaluation on One Health, and the need to reevaluate how things are valued in the animal and environmental sectors.

Prof. Kim Dalziel, head of the Health Economics Unit  moderated the final panel discussion “Conducting research across disciplines”. Panelists  Prof. Liz Sonenberg, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Systems Innovation; Prof. Jo Barraket, Director of the Melbourne Social Equity Institute and member of the Dilun Duwa Centre for Indigenous Business Leadership; and Prof. Peter Annear, Former Head of the Health Systems Governance and Financing Unit at the Nossal Institute for Global Health  shared their experiences working in multidisciplinary research. Panel members advised participants to understand  structures, processes, and pedagogy of disciplines often vary. A successful  multidisciplinary research team requires an open mind and a willingness to be flexible.

Multidisciplinary collaboration brings together the expertise and skills of different disciplines. As we increase our focus on easing the pain points of our interactions we are able to improve the our research impact.

The UMHEG meets to create a supportive connected environment for health economists working across the University.  Learn how you can get involved.

Dr Justin McKinley is a Research Fellow at the Nossal Institute for Global Health. He is an economist with a background in agricultural, development, and environmental economics.

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Dr Justin McKinley