Towards a close integration of social and natural sciences
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Interdisciplinary teams are now commonplace in natural resource research centers. The evolution from pure biologists to a systems approach with ecologists and later on, social scientists and geographers reflects our understanding that no natural environment is exempt from human impacts; to protect the natural environment we must incorporate the human dimensions within the environment. Whilst conceding that interdisciplinary research is vital to the conservation of natural resources, I review our state of knowledge on interdisciplinary research and identify several barriers to successful integration. To address these, it is necessary to first articulate and understand these barriers. Only then can they be identified as they arise between researchers and successfully overcome in order to achieve sustainable natural resource management. This paper identifies four major barriers that hinder efforts at successful integration of social and natural science. These are (i) differences in epistemology, (ii) the place and hierarchy of each science within the wider community, (iii) researcher time constraints and (iv) publication pressures. The paper also provides a list of recommendations to overcome these issues in order to guide researchers through the challenges of producing integrated, quality, outcome driven research that serve both the community and the natural environment.
Proceedings of the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium
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