Cvitanovic, C., A. J. Hobday, L. van Kerkhoff, and N. A. Marshall


Cvitanovic, C., A. J. Hobday, L. van Kerkhoff, and N. A. Marshall, 2015. Overcoming barriers to knowledge exchange for adaptive resource management; the perspectives of Australian marine scientists. Marine Policy, 52: 38–44. doi:10.1016/j.marpol.2014.10.026


The sustainable science-based management of natural resources requires knowledge exchange between scientists and environmental decision-makers; however, evidence suggests that information flow is inhibited by a range of barriers. To date, our understanding of the range and importance of factors limiting knowledge exchange between scientists and decision-makers is based primarily on the perceptions of decision-makers, while the perceptions of scientists have been largely overlooked. This study addresses this knowledge gap by quantitatively assessing the perceptions of scientists, represented by a sample of 78 Australian marine scientists, regarding (i) the role and importance of engaging with environmental decision-makers on a personal level, (ii) the role and importance of engaging with environmental decision-makers at the institutional level, (iii) current barriers to engaging with environmental decision-makers and (iv) options for overcoming barriers to engaging with environmental decision-makers. Survey results suggest that Australian marine scientists feel that they have an obligation to engage decision-makers in their science, and that engaging with and communicating to environmental decision-makers is important on a personal level. This study also identifies a range of barriers that impede engagement activities, including inadequate measures of science impact that do not account for engagement activities, a lack of organisational support for engagement activities, insufficient time to conduct engagement activities in addition to other responsibilities and a lack of funding to support engagement activities. To overcome these barriers, participants identified the need for institutional innovation by research institutions, research funders and decision-making agencies alike to promote a culture whereby knowledge exchange activities are legitimised as core business for research scientists, and recognised and rewarded appropriately. Although difficulties exist in implementing such institutional innovations, doing so will improve two-way knowledge exchange among scientists and decision-makers and improve the likely success of environmental management.