Cross-disciplinary research is essential in understanding and reducing energy usage, however the reality of this collaboration comes with many challenges. This paper provides an insight into the integration of social science in energy research, drawing on the expertise and first hand experiences of a range of social science researchers (predominantly Early Career Researchers (ECRs)) working on UK cross-disciplinary projects in energy demand. These researchers, participants in a workshop dedicated to understanding the integration of social science in energy research, identified four groups of challenges to successful integration: Differing expectations of the role of social scientists; Working within academia; Feeling like a valued member of the team; and Communicating and comprehension between disciplines. Suggestions of how to negotiate those challenges included: Management and planning; Increasing contact; Sharing experience; and Understanding team roles. The paper offers a definition of ‘success’ in cross-disciplinary energy research from the perspective of social science ECRs, comprising external, internal and personal components. Using the logics of interdisciplinarity, this paper suggests that integration of the social sciences in the projects discussed may be partial at best and highlights a need to recognise the challenges ECRs face, in order to achieve full integration and equality of disciplines.
Bibliographical note© 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license
Funding: EPSRC (EP/L013681/1, EP/K002473/1, EP/K00249X/1, EP/K002724/1 and EP/K002716/1).
- social science
- energy research
- early career researchers