Environmental Conservation

THEMATIC ISSUE: Interdisciplinary Progress in Environmental Science & Management

Defining and evaluating the impact of cross-disciplinary conservation research

ANNA C. EVELYa1a2 c1, IOAN FAZEYa3, XAVIER LAMBINa1, EMILY LAMBERTa1, SARAH ALLENa4 and MICHELLE PINARDa1a2

a1 Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB24 3FX, UK

a2 Aberdeen Centre for Environmental Sustainability, 23 St Machar Drive, University of Aberdeen AB24 3UU, UK

a3 School of Geography and Geosciences, Irvine Building, University of St Andrews, North Street, St Andrews KY16 9AL, Fife, UK

a4 EMEC Ecology, The Old Ragged School, Brook Street, Nottingham NG1 1EA, UK

SUMMARY

Cross-disciplinary research is advocated as a way of improving understanding of the complexity of environmental problems; cross-disciplinary projects, centres and academic institutes have increased. However, there is confusion over the nature of cross-disciplinary research. Through review of papers defining themselves as cross-disciplinary that aim to address conservation problems, and by standardizing the definition of cross-disciplinary research, it is possible to evaluate the potential research impact on peers and practitioners. When papers were reclassified by authors, those reclassified as transdisciplinary were perceived to have a greater impact on practitioners, and those reclassified as non cross-disciplinary had the greatest impact on colleagues. Having clear definitions for types of cross-disciplinary research would help establish a firm foundation, not only for improving research quality, but also for evaluating research impact. While the number of cross-disciplinary studies is increasing, cross-disciplinary research falls short of integrating disciplinary methods in much depth and does not have much impact on participants outside of academia.

(Received February 19 2010)

(Accepted July 09 2010)

(Online publication November 19 2010)

Correspondence

c1 Correspondence: Dr Anna Evely e-mail: a.c.evely@abdn.ac.uk