Five approaches to producing actionable science in conservation

Candice Carr Kelman, Chris J. Barton, Kyle Whitman, Simon Lhoest, Derrick M. Anderson, Leah R. Gerber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The knowledge produced by conservation scientists must be actionable in order to address urgent conservation challenges. To understand the process of creating actionable science, we interviewed 71 conservation scientists who had participated in 1 of 3 fellowship programs focused on training scientists to become agents of change. Using a grounded theory approach, we identified 16 activities that these researchers employed to make their scientific products more actionable. Some activities were more common than others and, arguably, more foundational. We organized these activities into 3 nested categories (motivations, strategies, and tactics). Using a co-occurrence matrix, we found that most activities were positively correlated. These correlations allowed us to identify 5 approaches, framed as profiles, to actionable science: the discloser, focused on open access; the educator, focused on science communication; the networker, focused on user needs and building relationships; the collaborator, focused on boundary spanning; and the pluralist, focused on knowledge coproduction resulting in valuable outcomes for all parties. These profiles build on one another in a hierarchy determined by their complexity and level of engagement, their potential to support actionable science, and their proximity to ideal coproduction with knowledge users. Our results provide clear guidance for conservation scientists to generate actionable science to address the global biodiversity conservation challenge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere14039
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • actionable science
  • becas comprometidas
  • boundary spanning
  • boundary work
  • ciencia práctica
  • ciencias de la conservación
  • comunicación de la ciencia
  • conservation science
  • coproducción
  • coproduction
  • del conocimiento a la acción
  • engaged scholarship
  • expansión de fronteras
  • knowledge to action
  • science communication
  • trabajo fronterizo

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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