Your hypothesis or mine? Terminological and conceptual variation across disciplines
Cross-disciplinary research (CDR) is a necessary response to many current pressing problems, yet CDR practitioners face diverse research challenges. Communication challenges can limit a CDR team’s ability to collaborate effectively, including differing use of scientific terms among teammates. To illustrate this, we examine the conceptual complexity and cross-disciplinary ambiguity of the termhypothesis as it is used by researchers participating in 16 team building workshops. These workshops assist CDR teams in finding common ground about fundamental research assumptions through philosophically structured dialogue. Our results show that team members often have very different perceptions about the nature of hypotheses, the role of hypotheses in science, and the use of hypotheses within different disciplines. Furthermore, we find that such assumptions can be rooted in disciplinary-based training. These data indicate that potentially problematic terminological differences exist within CDR teams, and exercises that reveal this early in the collaborative process may be beneficial.