Collaboration within the Puget Sound Marine and Nearshore Scientific Community
Moore, Elizabeth June
MetadataShow full item record
Scientific research is essential to supporting ecosystem recovery efforts. Given limited time and financial resources, funding entities may be interested in factors that influence the `impact' of research findings on recovery processes. This analysis explores one characteristic of scientific research that may be linked to the impact of results: collaboration among researchers and between researchers and policy makers who use scientific information. A multi-method social network analysis describes the network of Puget Sound researchers studying Puget Sound marine and nearshore ecosystems in order to inform recovery. The collaboration network structure, derived from 253 online surveys, is explained and contextualized using 20 qualitative key-informant interviews. The scientific network involved in Puget Sound recovery consists mainly of individuals trained in natural sciences, with 60% of nodes reported to have training in ecology, 48% in biology, and 38% in fisheries science. Human dimensions disciplines with the greatest representation of training included policy analysis (12% of all nodes), sociology (4%) and economics (4%). The discussion highlights factors reported to facilitate or inhibit success of collaborative research efforts such as leadership, incentives, and long-term adequate funding. Additionally, the degree to which a collaborative research model can be linked to `high impact', policy-informing research outcomes is addressed. Researchers, science communicators, and policy makers are motivated to collaborate because they feel that collaborations more effectively address complex policy concerns that have social and ecological dimensions. Yet, persistent challenges to interdisciplinary, collaborative research including limited funding, institutional barriers, and disciplinary `cultural' barriers remain. This study begs the question, given the current research effort and forms of collaboration, of whether these activities are strategically informing Puget Sound management pursuits.
- Marine affairs