Statement of Interdisciplinary Research


Applicants to the IDPhD Program are asked to prepare a Statement of Interdisciplinary Research Interest (SIRI). To assist you in the preparation of the SIRI, you may consult a document that was created by a former coordinator of the program. The SIRI should be a maximum 10 pages in length, should be long enough to give the Admissions committee confidence in the proposed research and the applicants ability to carry it out, and should address the interdisciplinary nature and necessity of the proposed research.

The SIRI covers the research topic area. The research program proposed in the SIRI must be truly interdisciplinary, drawing significantly on a minimum of two disparate areas of academic endeavour. It must also be the case that the proposed program could not be carried out successfully within the framework of another existing PhD program at Dalhousie. This consideration recognizes that the research activities of modern, “discipline-based” academic units are often multidisciplinary and strongly collaborative—enough to accommodate many interdisciplinary projects. Research programs within the IDPhD at Dalhousie must be uniquely feasible within the framework of that program only.

General Guidelines

Recognizing the range of possibilities for interdisciplinary research, the following general guidelines are provided for the student in preparation of the SIRI. 

  1. General Statement Outlining Research Proposal and its Objectives: What is the essential question that your research is addressing? Why is this worth doing? Does it require an interdisciplinary approach? 
  2. Critical Assessment: Provide a critical assessment of the proposed research from the point of view of each of the contributing disciplines. Include citations of relevant scientific literature. 
  3. Interdisciplinarity: Why does this research require an interdisciplinary approach? How do you propose integrating the contributing disciplines to achieve your objectives? Could you achieve your goals through any existing programs at Dalhousie, perhaps as a special stream of interest?
  4. Background: What are you bringing to the research? What are you missing and how do you propose to fill those gaps?
  5. Methodology: What general methodology are you intending to follow for this research? Why? How does this decision reflect the interdisciplinary nature of your research? How will the methodology allow you to integrate disciplinary insights?
  6. Results: How do you anticipate that your research results will add to scientific knowledge? Describe how the new knowledge contributes to the disciplines.

Admissions Committee Considerations              

The admissions committee will be looking for a SIRI that answers the following questions:

  • Is the research interdisciplinary? We define interdisciplinary as research and study that cannot be done under only one of Dalhousie's 50+ graduate programs.
  • Does the applicant use two or more disciplines to actively inform their statement of research interest?
  • Has the applicant made a strong case for the most relevant disciplines related to their research topic?
  • Does the applicant recognize the difference between multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches?
  • Does the research require an interdisciplinary approach?
  • Is there the potential for a more comprehensive understanding than would be gained from a single disciplinary approach to the research question?
  • Did the applicant justify the importance of her/his research question?
  • Did the applicant show understanding of the conceptualization stage of research?
  • Has the applicant considered the relationship between methodology and an interdisciplinary approach?
  • Is the research do-able? Most students “bite off more than they can chew”. We want to see a SIRI that is interdisciplinary, and that the research can be completed in a reasonable time frame and with reasonable resource commitment.
  • Is the research important? In addition to the justification the applicant makes for this in her/his SIRI, we also look at the supervisor’s letter for confirmation of this.