1 Tahrcountry Musings: Research-Prioritization Exercises and Conservation Policies

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Research-Prioritization Exercises and Conservation Policies

How Research-Prioritization Exercises Affect Conservation Policy


Article first published online: 25 JUL 2011   © Society for Conservation Biology

It is an undeniable fact that there is often a wide chasm between research and its impact on policies pertaining to conservation. The way forward should be better aligning of research with policy needs. With his idea in mind, some conservation scientists have embarked on a whole gamut of exercises to identify research questions that, if answered, would provide the evidence base with which to develop and implement effective conservation policies.
Here the researcher synthesized two existing approaches to conceptualizing research impacts. One widely used approach classifies the impacts of research as conceptual, instrumental, and symbolic.
Conceptual impacts occur when policy makers are sensitized to new issues and this in turn brings about changes in their beliefs and thinking process. Instrumental impacts occur when scientific research has a direct effect on policy decisions. The use of scientific research results to support established policy positions are a sign of symbolic impacts.
The second approach classifies research issues according to whether scientific knowledge is developed fully and whether the policy issue has been articulated clearly.
The researcher say exercises to identify important research questions have objectives of increasing the clarity of policy issues while strengthening science–policy interactions. This may act as a vehicle of transmission of scientific knowledge to policy makers. This also has the potential to accelerate the development and implementation of effective conservation policy.
 The researcher say identification of visionary science questions independent of current policy needs, prioritization of best practices for transferring scientific knowledge to policy makers, and identification of questions about human values and their role in political processes could all help advance real-world conservation science. He signs off with these words “It is crucial for conservation scientists to understand the wide variety of ways in which their research can affect policy and be improved systematically”.

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