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A New Framework for Evaluating the Success of Coproduced Climate Science

Researchers supported by the Southwest Climate Science Center propose an evaluation framework for collaborative climate science in a recent publication.

Sunrise on the water seen through trees
Sunrise through the trees

Gone are the days of the scientist working in isolation, writing up results and hoping they make a difference. Instead, a new model of doing science – coproduction – is growing in popularity. “Coproduction” refers to a collaborative approach in which scientists work closely with stakeholders (such as resource managers and other decision makers) throughout the research process, from design to final output. The goal is to arrive at knowledge and tools that are relevant and useful for dealing with on-the-ground issues, which is especially important in the context of climate change.

But how can scientists know whether they have succeeded at the process of coproduction?

In a recent publication in Weather, Climate, and Society, researchers supported by the Southwest Climate Science Center tackle this question. Tamara Wall, Desert Research Institute, and co-authors propose a framework for evaluating the success of coproduced climate science research. The framework includes 45 indicators drawn from the scientific literature, existing evaluation tools and expert interviews. They range from including necessary disciplines on the research team to having findings contribute to climate change adaptation action.

To gauge the usefulness of their proposed framework, Wall and colleagues tested the indicators in two case studies. The first case study involved scientists working with a tribal community to help them better understand their climate change vulnerabilities and develop adaptive strategies. The second was a collaborative effort between scientists and managers to study the impacts of climate change on shore-based ecosystems. The results from the case studies are described in the paper, as well as the researchers’ lessons learned from the process of evaluating coproduction.

Read the full paper, Developing Evaluation Indicators to Improve the Process of Coproducing Usable Climate Science.