Indicator

The Interdisciplinary Humanities PhD

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Doctorate-holders in all disciplines are increasingly likely to describe their work as interdisciplinary. The indicators below explore the trend in interdisciplinary degrees and how far new PhDs travel from their home discipline. Other studies have shown that respondents have varied understandings of the meaning of “interdisciplinary” research, so these findings can only suggest the extent to which dissertation research is extending beyond any particular discipline, the direction in which such work extends, and how far researchers might have travelled from their primary discipline.1

Endnotes

II-33a: Share of New Doctorate Recipients Reporting Interdisciplinary Dissertations, by Primary Field of Study,* 2003–2012

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* Life sciences includes agricultural sciences and natural resources; biological and biomedical sciences; and health sciences. Physical sciences includes mathematics and computer and information sciences. Social sciences includes psychology.
Source: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED; a custom tabulation of SED data was prepared for the Humanities Indicators by NORC at the University of Chicago).

To determine the levels of interdisciplinary work among new doctoral recipients, staff at NORC at the University of Chicago drew on two items in the Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED). The first of these asked each new PhD to “choose the code that best describes the primary field of your dissertation.” The second item asked, “If your dissertation was interdisciplinary, list the name . . . of your secondary field.” (For a complete list of the field and discipline response options, see pages 6 and 7 of the 2012–2013 SED questionnaire).

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* Primary dissertation field is that reported by dissertation author. The secondary "field" may be another discipline within the same field (e.g., a humanities Ph.D. might report the primary field of their dissertation as history and the secondary as philosophy). Life sciences includes agricultural sciences and natural resources; biological and biomedical sciences; and health sciences. Physical sciences includes mathematics and computer and information sciences. Social sciences includes psychology.

Source: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED; a custom tabulation of SED data was prepared for the Humanities Indicators by NORC at the University of Chicago).

To determine the levels of interdisciplinary work among new doctoral recipients, staff at NORC at the University of Chicago drew on two items in the Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED). The first of these asked each new PhD to “choose the code that best describes the primary field of your dissertation.” The second item asked, “If your dissertation was interdisciplinary, list the name . . . of your secondary field.” (For a complete list of the field and discipline response options, see pages 6 and 7 of the 2012–2013 SED questionnaire).

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* Primary dissertation field is that reported by dissertation author. “Letters” encompasses English and American languages and literatures, as well as creative writing and comparative literature. Life sciences includes agricultural sciences and natural resources; biological and biomedical sciences; and health sciences. Physical sciences includes mathematics and computer and information sciences. Social sciences includes psychology.
** Differs from the “other humanities” category used in standard Survey of Earned Doctorates publications in that it excludes philosophy, religion/religious studies, and Bible/biblical studies.
† Value for life and physical sciences has been suppressed to avoid disclosure of confidential information.

Source: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED; a custom tabulation of SED data was prepared for the Humanities Indicators by NORC at the University of Chicago).

To determine the levels of interdisciplinary work among new doctoral recipients, staff at NORC at the University of Chicago drew on two items in the Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED). The first of these asked each new PhD to “choose the code that best describes the primary field of your dissertation.” The second item asked, “If your dissertation was interdisciplinary, list the name . . . of your secondary field.” (For a complete list of the field and discipline response options, see pages 6 and 7 of the 2012–2013 SED questionnaire).

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* Primary dissertation field is that reported by dissertation author. “Letters” encompasses English and American languages and literatures, as well as creative writing and comparative literature.
** Differs from the “other humanities” category used in standard Survey of Earned Doctorates publications in that it excludes philosophy, religion/religious studies, and Bible/biblical studies.
† Values for history and languages and literatures other than English have been suppressed to avoid disclosure of confidential information.

Source: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED; a custom tabulation of SED data was prepared for the Humanities Indicators by NORC at the University of Chicago).

To determine the levels of interdisciplinary work among new doctoral recipients, staff at NORC at the University of Chicago drew on two items in the Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED). The first of these asked each new PhD to “choose the code that best describes the primary field of your dissertation.” The second item asked, “If your dissertation was interdisciplinary, list the name . . . of your secondary field.” (For a complete list of the field and discipline response options, see pages 6 and 7 of the 2012–2013 SED questionnaire).

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