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Southampton Health Technology Assessments CentreNews

Methods for synthesising knowledge to support environmental management policy decisions

Published: 31 May 2016
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SHTAC has contributed to a new research paper which explores the pros and cons of different methods for synthesising knowledge to support policy decisions in environmental management.

Environmental management policy decisions, for example to protect species, habitats, or natural resources, should be based on the best available scientific knowledge. Numerous methods are available for identifying, collating, and scrutinising scientific knowledge, each with different strengths and limitations. It is unclear, however, which approaches would be most appropriate for answering the various types of environmental management policy questions that can arise. Issues to consider include: the need for rapid answers to urgent questions; how to answer very broad questions, what to do if the knowledge base is small, lacking or uncertain; how to identify and mitigate bias; and how to handle conflicting knowledge or opinions.

Geoff Frampton from SHTAC has contributed to a paper published in the journal Biodiversity and Conservation which reports on a workshop of the EU ‘Biodiversity Knowledge’ project. In the workshop, 16 participants from nine countries explored the suitability of different knowledge synthesis methods for answering environmental management policy questions. The paper presents a matrix suggesting how different types of policy question might be addressed using combinations of different knowledge synthesis methods, and emphasises the importance of having a diversity of methods.

For more information on SHTAC’s biology and environmental research please visit our Research page.



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