About the project


Investigating interdisciplinary research discourse: the case of Global Environmental Change (IDRD) was a project run as a collaboration between the Centre for Corpus Research, University of Birmingham, and the international scientific publisher, Elsevier. It was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (UK). The project focused on the discourse of interdisciplinary research. In particular, we investigated the extent to which interdisciplinary research fields operate as a unified whole and, in contrast, the extent to which disciplines maintain their discrete identities in interdisciplinary discourse.

Specifically, we investigated the discourse of interdisciplinary research (IDR) through comprehensive and innovative linguistic analyses of both discipline-specific and interdisciplinary journals. The investigation focused on content published in Elsevier’s journal Global Environmental Change (GEC), a highly interdisciplinary journal, and a group of selected control journals. Elsevier provided free access to the journals, as well as analytical support with citation analysis, and helped us to contact journal editors, reviewers, and authors for additional qualitative surveys and interviews.

We believe that this research is valuable to institutions, research councils and researchers as it contributes to a fuller understanding of what the distinctive features of discourse practices in interdisciplinary research are and of how they differ from discourse practices in conventional disciplines. The purpose of this website is to communicate our research to a wide range of audiences with interests in interdisciplinary research, corpus linguistics, research policy, and global environmental change.

IDRDlogo_300 University-of-Birmingham-crest Elsevierlogo_300 esrc_logo


  1. interesting research. I can’t wait to read the outcomes of this groundbreaking research by gurus in corpus linguistics. in fact disciplinary discourses interest me so much. i am currently undertaking a research into a lecture corpus from Ghana. The study is situated in the disciplinary variationist frame to find out differences in the discourse references and functions of I, WE and YOU across Humanities, Social Sciences and Sciences (Hyland, 2009).

  2. I am interested in this project and would be glad to read the published articles and chapters and books.

    • We have two papers coming out soon:

      Murakami, A., Thompson, P., Hunston, S. & Vajn, D. (2017, forthcoming) ‘What is this corpus about?’ Using topic modeling to explore a specialized corpus Corpora 12/2
      Thompson, P., Hunston, S., Murakami, A. & Vajn, D. (2017, forthcoming) Multi-dimensional analysis, text constellations, and interdisciplinary discourse International Journal of Corpus Linguistics.

      They will both be open access.

  3. A very interesting research in corpora. I am also engaged in exploring of engineering terms in scientific publications and their translation and meaning from English into Uzbek. I would be happy to read and learn the articles on the methods and approaches of working with corpus for this type of research as interdisciplinary one.

    • Thank you for your comment. The two papers Paul raised above detail the methods we used in our project. I am not entirely sure how useful they are in your study, but topic modelling is relatively straightforwardly applicable to Uzbek as well.

  4. I’m going to teach an ESP course to chemistry students next term and help them publish their articles on international journals. I also plan to carry out research based on the course. This project seems to be able to help both my teaching and research. I’m wondering whether this project covers chemistry as a discipline-specific genre in its corpora and whether there are any interesting findings about this genre.

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