Challenges of cross-disciplinary work

Cross-disciplinary science does present a number of challenges. But it is also very rewarding. It is often in-between established sciences one finds solution to problems that have been complicated to address previously, or even completely new and super-interesting problems to work with. Much of today was dedicated to preparing a re-submission of one of our studies which I find very interesting, but that we have had difficulties squeezing into a proper media so far since it is neither a pure genetic paper, nor a pure archaeological paper, but somewhere in-between.


The first out of three issues that are specific to cross-disciplinary studies is that of writing up the study. Archaeology and genetics have different tradition here. While an archaeological study is much about mirroring a completed discussion in the research-history, a genetic study is the opposite. Short, distilled, condensed, and stripped. And quit often more people are involved in the genetic study than in the archaeological study. Getting everybody involved to adapt to one style, even if unfamiliar, is challenging and do take time.


The second is finding a suitable journal. There are good genetic journals as well as good archaeological journals, but few that fully grasps the area in-between. And for the journals, it is likely easy to find good expertise for reviewing archaeology or genetics, but less easy to find such that are familiar with when these two disciplines are marrying together.


The third one is the response. When Sarich & Wilson published the first proper archaeogenetic study in 1967, they created a major earthquake in the field of anthropology. A type of data that no-one had seen before, and claiming something that no-one believed in at the time. We experienced something similar in 2009 on a more local scale, but still as intense, when we made our first major claim in archaeology based on genetics. Why would you connect this kind of data with these questions, when this type of data, and these questions, had been fruitfully explored in many other and more traditional ways previously?

Why would a mitochondrial network be more convincing than more classic material arguments? From our paper 2009.


Today it was Jan Storå, Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson, and Anna Kjellström working with me on reformatting the manuscript. As enthusiastic and creative as they always are. And if these people agree with me that it is worth to go the extra mile for these kinds of studies, then I feel completely confident that we are on the right path.