Many reports and studies have noted that a significant portion of problem-oriented coastal science does not actually link to decisions. Here, three competitively funded project case studies are studied to determine what funders can and should do to better link science with decisions. The qualitative analysis used for this study indicates that the studied program was seen as being unusually attentive to the issue of linking science to decisions, as opposed to simply generating new knowledge. Nevertheless, much of the data indicate that funders can and should do more. Three ideas figured most prominently in the qualitative data: (1) funders should do more to ensure that the problem itself is defined more thoroughly with people who are envisioned as potential users of the science; (2) funders need to allocate more resources and attention to communicating effectively (with users) throughout the project; and (3) funders need to demand more engagement of users throughout the project. These findings have important implications for how funders review and support science, especially when competitive processes are used. Most importantly, funders should adjust what kind of science they ask for. Secondly, funders need to change who is involved in the review process. Currently, review processes focus on knowledge generation, which means that the reviewers themselves have expertise in that area. Instead, review panels should be balanced between those who focus on knowledge generation and those who focus on linking knowledge to decisions; this is a separate but critical discipline currently left out of the review process.
About this article
This 2014 article, published in Environmental Management, examines three competitively funded project case studies to determine what funders can and should do to better link science with decisions.
Matso, K. E., & Becker, M. L. (2014). What can funders do to better link science with decisions? Case studies of coastal communities and climate change. Environmental Management, 54(6), 1356-1371. https://doi.org/10.1007/