Environmental Studies

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

3-10-2011

Abstract

Information we collect about our planet depends, in part, on the questions scientists ask regarding the natural world. Asking other questions might lead to different innovations and alternative understandings of policy problems and their potential solutions. With a seemingly infinite number of potential study subjects but limited resources with which to study them, why have we chosen to focus on the topics that we have? Here, I present a Q-method study that explores ecologists' thought processes as they evaluate the merits of potential research topics. The participants, ecologists attending the Ecological Society of America's 2008 Annual Meeting, nominally agreed with one another that their discipline should contribute to solving environmental problems, but they interpreted that goal differently. This study uncovers four competing visions that ecologists have for their discipline. On the basis of these findings, I contend that ecology might be more effective in informing policy if priority setting were a more deliberative process and open to insights from individuals and institutions outside of ecology.

Publication Title

Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment

Volume

9

Issue

8

First Page

462

Last Page

469

Required Publisher's Statement

Copyright by the Ecological Society of America

Neff, M. W. (2011), What research should be done and why? Four competing visions among ecologists. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 9: 462–469. doi:10.1890/100035

Neff-2011-Frontiers_in_Ecology_and_the_Environment.sup-1.pdf (52 kB)
MW Neff - Supplemental information

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

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