, Volume 117, Issue 2, pp 1183–1204 | Cite as

Neuroscience bridging scientific disciplines in health: Who builds the bridge, who pays for it?

  • Ran XuEmail author
  • Navid Ghaffarzadegan


The purpose of this study is to investigate the dynamics of cross-disciplinary research in health-related fields as affected by individual and institutional factors. We examine the topics of more than 500,000 doctoral dissertations from U.S. institutions in six major disciplines in 1996–2014. We find that (1) the overall extent of cross-disciplinary studies has remained steady over the years, while there is an increasing trend of cross-disciplinary research between biological sciences and engineering, as well as biological sciences and behavioral sciences, especially in recent years; and (2) at the subject level, the cross-disciplinary research around neuroscience is rapidly increasing, and neuroscience is becoming one of the most important bridges across subjects in various disciplines. A further investigation shows that the tendency to conduct cross-disciplinary neuroscience research is driven by an institutional trend that occurs across various departments, and there is an association between lagged neuroscience funding input and the production of cross-disciplinary neuroscience dissertations. Overall, our results offer new insights into the dynamic nature of cross-disciplinary research in health, the role of topics as bridging different disciplines, and human and funding capital in building the bridges.


Dissertations Cross-disciplinary research Topic network Neuroscience 



The National Institute of General Medical Sciences and the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (Grant 2U01GM094141-05), and the Institute for Society, Culture and Environment of Virginia Tech supported this work. We thank Keyvan Vakili (London Business School) and anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments, and the ProQuest dissertation data team for generously sharing the dissertation metadata.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 2187 kb)


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Industrial and Systems EngineeringVirginia TechFalls ChurchUSA

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