Interdisciplinary Academic Research Collaborations as Intercultural Phenomena: The Case of the University of the Philippines Diliman

Evora, M.B.P. (2018). Interdisciplinary Academic Research Collaborations as Intercultural Phenomena: The Experiences of Select Faculty Members of the University of the Philippines Diliman, Unpublished Undergraduate Thesis, University of the Philippines, College of Mass Communication.

This study investigates how researchers negotiate their disciplinary cultural identities in interdisciplinary academic research collaborations. Academic disciplines have been regarded as cultural entities where each has a distinct set of values, traditions, and languages rooted on their epistemologies. The informants of this study are mainly faculty members from the University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD) who have experience/s of collaborating with faculty members from other colleges. The rich research culture of UP is deemed appropriate for the exploratory nature of the study. The present investigation utilized focus interviews to discern the strategies employed by researchers to adjust with their collaborators’ disciplinary cultures. Data were analyzed following a framework that fuses Gallois, Ogay, and Giles’ Communication Accommodation Theory (CAT) and Enriquez’s Filipino Kapwa Culture. The study found that different disciplines tend to have different academic languages and research styles. They were also found to have different authorship and student mentorship traditions. Consequently, the values of openness and sensitivity were held highly in interdisciplinary academic research collaborations. To unite disciplinary cultural differences, conducting monthly research meeting workshops was raised as a convergent strategy. An interdisciplinary research model wherein a student’s research is co-advised by two professors from different disciplines was also pointed out. The Filipino hindi ibang tao-ibang tao [insider-outsider] dynamic was found to explain a number of communication accommodation practices. Accordingly, inuman [social drinking] and kainan at chikahan [chatting over a meal] were uncovered as mechanisms to shift one’s research collaborator from being an ibang tao [outsider] to a hindi ibang tao [insider]. However, an ibang tao [outsider] immediately claiming to understand the complexity of other disciplines was found to trigger divergent practices from their interlocutors.

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