From climate change to world poverty or even gender discrimination, we’re constantly faced with complex world problems that require us to look from various angles for a deeper understanding and possible solutions. How can we do that?
The answer lies in multidisciplinary research. Put simply, it’s when a group of researchers from different disciplines collaborate and bring their expertise for the research.
However, in real sense it goes beyond just collaborating but rather having a good understanding of research necessities across various disciplines. This means, to solve real-world problems, a researcher needs to be fluent in the culture, language, methodologies, and methods of multiple disciplines.
In fact, multidisciplinary work has resulted in many crucial innovations.
X-rays, a pivotal diagnostic technique in the field of medicine, was discovered by physicists. The Internet, an indispensable asset in our everyday lives, started off as a communication project by the United States defense department. Similarly, a lot of great science has come from the interactions of researchers from different disciplines. With two degrees in zoology, James Watson, along with biologist Francis Crick, discovered the famous double-helix DNA structure. They later received a Nobel Prize in 1962, showing the importance of multidisciplinary research.
Multidisciplinary research is undoubtedly important in ensuring a positive impact towards our quality of life. That’s exactly why Associate Professor Dr. Saeed Pahlevan Sharif, Head of Research and PhD Programme Director in Faculty of Business and Law at Taylor’s University, is an active multidisciplinary researcher and data scientist involved in several academic and industrial research projects.
Since joining academia, Dr. Saeed has been working with researchers from various disciplines and has been actively engaged in different research studies. His research achievements include presenting more than 40 research works in international conferences, publishing more than 100 research papers in top-tier scientific journals, and winning several best paper awards.
“I think conducting multidisciplinary research is rooted in my educational background and experience of working in various industries such as oil and gas, education, information technology, film industry, and etc,” he shared.
His research contribution towards society has also not gone unnoticed. To date, he has received many prestigious awards too including The Taylor’s University Vice Chancellor’s Research Award in 2017 and The Iranian Embassy Research Medalist Award 2016-2017 from the Iranian Ambassador to Malaysia, H.E Mrs Marzieh Afkham.
Dr. Saeed receiving The Taylor’s University Vice Chancellor’s Research Award in 2017.
Currently, Dr. Saeed is involved in several multidisciplinary research projects among which includes studying people’s financial literacy and behaviour.
“What inspired me to choose this research area is because of my family’s financial issues. I witnessed how bad financial decision-making and lack of knowledge in managing money impacted my parents’ lives,” he said.
The rapid development of financial products and services along with the rise of social media that implicitly promotes the consumption culture has resulted in consumers needing to make complex financial decisions.
Hence, financial literacy is an important skill for all, especially the youth — to learn the rationale behind financial decision making. Research has shown that the knowledge of finance has been linked not only to better retirement planning, limited indebtedness, greater investment intention, active participation in financial markets, and greater household wealth accumulation, but also to life satisfaction, physical and psychological well-being, and a positive impact towards one’s quality of life.
Along with his past studies to improve our understanding of the role of financial literacy in one’s quality of life through multidisciplinary research, Dr. Saeed has been working with an international team of researchers from the United Kingdom, Australia, Turkey, Iran, Brazil, China, Sri Lankan, and Spain in the fields of behavioural finance, psychology, consumer behavior, nursing, and education
In one of his projects, Dr. Saeed and his team investigated the role of financial literacy impacting the well-being and quality of life of cancer patients with financial hardship.
“Cancer incurs significant direct and indirect expenses for patients and their families. Specific cancer treatments often exceed household income levels, which in turn impose unanticipated financial burden on them. Empirical evidence shows that 70% of cancer patients reduce their leisure activities, 48% withdraw savings, and 18% sell their possessions”, he said.
The changes in healthcare delivery models and complex insurance policies have increased patients’ financial responsibilities more than ever before. This highlights the importance of conducting research to understand how financial literacy may influence patients’ healthcare decision-making, behavior, and well-being.
The findings of Dr. Saeed’s study revealed that cancer patients who are more financially literate would experience less financial burden, resulting in a higher quality of life. The results are even more interesting considering that the effect of financial literacy on quality of life is not because of people’s wealth and family financial status!
“Although it seemed that psychological and social support available to cancer patients may help them cope with the disease stress, his research results revealed that solely receiving emotional support from the close circle of acquaintances with no financial support from them might be bothersome or irritating to patients experiencing financial distress!” he shared.
Dr. Saeed in one of his Finance Live Show.
Evidently, multidisciplinary research helps in providing solutions and improving the quality of our everyday lives. Two heads are better than one. If all researchers were to design their own experiments separately, the world could never have enjoyed the benefits of many different breakthroughs. For Dr. Saeed and his team, they’re committed in promoting applied multidisciplinary research to improve people’s quality of life through enhancing their financial literacy.
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