Money, time, or saving the world

Balancing valuations of ‘good’ interdisciplinary research


  • Laura Lamberg Häme University of Applied Sciences
  • Essi Ryymin
  • Liubov Vetoshkina



This paper analyses valuations of ‘good’ interdisciplinary research that manifest in research planning workshops. We use ethnographic case data from an interdisciplinary research project on vertical farming to build insight on how differing registers in the valuing of ‘good’ interdisciplinary research are balanced. The vertical farming project we use as a case includes researchers from sub-disciplines of the life sciences, technology, data science, and human sciences in a Finnish university of applied science (UAS). We use thematic content analysis to identify four core registers of valuing the ‘goodness’ of research and tensions between the following registers: money, sustainability,  scientific value, and academic identity. These registers largely conform to a statistical-economical regime of academic evaluation, while sustainability draws on RRI principles and the interdisciplinary emphasis on societal problem-solving. The registers are balanced mainly through temporal and conceptual compartmentalisations. Throughout three workshop encounters over the course of a six-month period, a perpetual negotiation of the different registers of valuing ‘good’ research was taking place, with attempts to avoid exclusionary choices between “money, time, or saving the world”.


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