Improving Partnerships in Natural Resources Research by Enhancing Ethical Practice

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Southwest CASC-supported scientists provide a framework for expanding ethics training and skills for researchers that may improve partnerships and transdisciplinary natural resources research. 

Native and invasive plants in desert southwest.

Native and invasive plants in desert southwest.  

(Credit: Molly McCormick, USGS. Public domain.)

Read the original story posted by the Southwest CASC, here

Researchers who study natural resources work closely with the managers and communities who depend on, steward, and impact the natural environment. These partnerships include co-production and transdisciplinary research approaches, which integrate multiple types of knowledge in the design and implementation of research objectives, questions, methods, and in defining outputs or outcomes. Since partnering with non-scientists can have real-world risks for people and ecosystems, there is value in defining how to work with individuals, communities, organizations, and their associated ecosystems, as partners, rather than research subjects. 

Building upon existing literature from across disciplines, Southwest CASC-supported researchers have in a new publication in Environmental Management offered four expanded principles and two cross-cutting themes to enhance ethical practice in transdisciplinary social-ecological research. These principles are: 1) appropriate representation, 2) self-determination, 3) reciprocity, and 4) deference, and two cross-cutting themes: 1) applications to humans and non-human actors, and 2) acquiring appropriate research skills. 

This framework can support natural resource scientists in their efforts to expand and use their skillsets in ways that may lead to more ethical and successful partnerships, knowledge generation, and natural resource management practice. 

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