• bibliometrics;
  • interdisciplinarity

The growing complexity of challenges involved in scientific progress demands ever more frequent application of competencies and knowledge from different scientific fields. The present work analyzes the degree of collaboration among scientists from different disciplines to identify the most frequent “combinations of knowledge” in research activity. The methodology adopts an innovative bibliometric approach based on the disciplinary affiliation of publication coauthors. The field of observation includes all publications (167,179) indexed in the Science Citation Index Expanded for the years 2004–2008, authored by all scientists in the hard sciences (43,223) at Italian universities (68). The analysis examines 205 research fields grouped in 9 disciplines. Identifying the fields with the highest potential of interdisciplinary collaboration is useful to inform research polices at the national and regional levels, as well as management strategies at the institutional level.