Tolerant scientists produce better science

A brand new open access e-book helps future conservation scientists prepare themselves for interdisciplinary research with collaborators from diverse backgrounds.

How can young conservation scientists learn to be tolerant and work with diverse partners to produce better science in order to save nature? Dr. Mary Mildred Stith, one of the authors of the new open access e-book One Field Guide: Navigating the Social Context of Conservation Research asked this question to 50 African and European researchers in the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, participating in the AfricanBioServices project. The researchers represent the whole project consortium with respect to gender, professional background and geographical origin.

Their answers revealed that context, cooperation and communication are crucial factors for successful science in an interdisciplinary and diverse research project. These factors are presented in the book as the 3Cs.

“Centuries of research experience is represented by the voices in this book.  Many of the researchers featured have worked in conservation for many decades.  We hope by compiling these experiences and best practices in an easy-to-read style that students and researchers from all over the world will benefit”, Dr. Mary Mildred Stith says.

The publication is published online as a web page, but is also available for download as a pdf in order to be available for students and researchers in areas with no or unstable internet access, and be a resource during field work in rural areas.

“This book is intended to open up conversation about social issues that are integral to conservation but are often overlooked. Conservation research is a diverse discipline.  Science can become an example of international cooperation and collaboration, if the lessons in this book are incorporated and further developed”, Dr. Stith continues.

“We hope that this book will show young researchers the importance of being tolerant towards people with a different background”, says Dr. Gine Roll Skjærvø, the other author behind the publication.


Follows the development of a research project

The chapters of the publication follow the development of a research project, from research design, through data collection and analysis, before publishing and finally dissemination and communication.

“In the book young researchers and students can read about the experiences of the researchers from AfricanBioServices, and reflect on how the three Cs affect the outcome of research projects”, Dr. Roll Skjærvø says.

Each chapter is structured around the 3Cs, and excerpts from the interviews relevant for the project phase and the C in question are presented. Every chapter ends with a number of discussion questions.

“My hope is that ‘One Field Guide’ will be used by students and young researchers in conservation biology worldwide – it can be used for class reading, workshops, and a companion during fieldwork”, Dr. Roll Skjærvø says.

It is Oda Sofie Granholt at Vild who has designed the book.

“It has been a very exciting project to work on. Our focus has primarily been to make the text easy to read and navigate, and that it should work in areas with poor web access – and be print friendly. It has been fun because the content and the audience has given us new challenges, and at the same time it is very rewarding to work on good content with an important message that we want to help to spread”, says Oda Sofie Granholt.

The publication is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research programme under grant agreement No 641918.

“More texts like this are necessary to change the politics of knowledge in conservation science.  We hope this inspires other diverse research collaborations to share their experiences with the goal of making conservation more relevant and meaningful to society”, says Dr. Stith.

The film below presents scientists of the Serengeti ecosystem of Tanzania and Kenya responding to the question—How would you advise future conservation scientists to approach interdisciplinary research with collaborators from diverse backgrounds?

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