Embedded in interdisciplinary research, just as in disciplinary research, are statements of purpose, theoretical frameworks, research questions, reviews of literature, methodology, findings, recommendations, and more However, one of the least understood aspects of interdisciplinary research is the interdisciplinary research (IDR) theoretical framework. This article is intended to serve as a platform for dialogue within and across disciplines about interdisciplinary research and interdisciplinary theoretical frameworks. In addition, it provides a model for developing an IDR theoretical framework through an illustrative example of how an IDR theoretical framework was created and used within a dissertation study. We conclude the article noting critical elements about IDR and IDR theoretical frameworks for students and researchers to consider for enhancing their research.


Interdisciplinary Theoretical Research Framework (IDR Theoretical Frameworks), Interdisciplinary Research (IDR), Theoretical Framework, Qualitative Educational Research

Author Bio(s)

Dr. CohenMiller is a qualitative research methodologist who examines issues of social justice and equity in education, specializing in arts-based methods to encourage and facilitate participant voice. Currently she is an Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Education at Nazarbayev University (Kazakhstan). Dr. CohenMiller’s research focuses on issues of gender in higher education and the workplace and on improving teaching and learning in preK – higher education contexts. She is also Founder of The Motherscholar Project (www.motherscholar.org), Co-Founding Director of The Consortium of Gender Scholars (www.gen-con.org, Kazakhstan), Editor-in-Chief of Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy (www.journaldialogue.org), and lead author of a textbook on critical self-reflection for qualitative research in multicultural contexts (Routledge, 2020). Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: anna@cohenmiller.com.

Dr. P. Elizabeth Pate is a Professor in and Chair of the Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching at The University of Texas at San Antonio. Her teaching interests include middle level education and curriculum and instruction. Dr. Pate’s research agenda is framed by systems thinking and focuses on service-learning/community-based research, the Conceptual Framework of Teaching Practice, democratic education, and STEM curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Her leadership roles have included Department Chair of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching at The University of Texas at San Antonio (2007-2010); co-director of UTSA’s GE2MS Program, Generating Educational Excellence in Mathematics and Science; co-editor for Voices from the Middle for The National Council of Teachers of English; membership on the Research Advisory Board for the National Middle School Association (2006-2008); and, President, President-elect, Program Chair and Vice-President, and Treasurer of the Middle Level Education Research Special Interest Group (MLER) of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). She is the recipient of the Regents Outstanding Teaching Award from the University of Texas System (2012), University of Texas System Chancellor’s Council Outstanding Teaching Award (2006) and the President’s Distinguished Achievement Award in recognition of Teaching Excellence (2006) at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Dr. Pate received the Richard B. Russell Undergraduate Teaching Award (1999) and the Walter B. Hill Award for Distinguished Achievement in Public Service and Outreach (2001) at The University of Georgia; and, was selected one of ten finalists for the national Thomas Ehrlich Faculty Award for Service-Learning (2000). Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: elizabeth.pate@utsa.edu.


An earlier version of this work was presented at the Inter-Congress of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, in Dubrovnik, Croatia, in 2016, where the feedback from audience members provided useful additions to refining this article. We would also like to thank TQR and the review process with Daniel Wulff who helped to enhance the final manuscript.

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