Scholarly collaborations across disparate scientific disciplines are challenging. Collaborators are likely to have their offices in another building, attend different conferences, and publish in other venues; they might speak a different scientific language and value an alien scientific culture. This paper presents a detailed analysis of success and failure of interdisciplinary papers—as manifested in the citations they receive. For 9.2 million interdisciplinary
research papers published between 2000 and 2012 we show that the majority (69.9%) of
co-cited interdisciplinary pairs are “win-win” relationships, i.e., papers that cite them have higher citation impact and there are as few as 3.3% “lose-lose” relationships. Papers citing
references from subdisciplines positioned far apart (in the conceptual space of the UCSD map of science) attract the highest relative citation counts. The findings support the assumption that interdisciplinary research is more successful and leads to results greater than the sum of its disciplinary parts.