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The Influence of Philosophical Perspectives in Integrative Research: a Conservation Case Study in the Cairngorms National Park

Anna C. Evely, Institute of Biological Sciences, Aberdeen University
Ioan Fazey, University of Wales, Aberystwyth
Michelle Pinard, Institute of Biological Sciences, Aberdeen University
Xavier Lambin, Institute of Biological Sciences, Aberdeen University


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The benefits of increasing the contribution of the social sciences in the fields of environmental and conservation science disciplines are increasingly recognized. However, integration between the social and natural sciences has been limited, in part because of the barrier caused by major philosophical differences in the perspectives between these research areas. This paper aims to contribute to more effective interdisciplinary integration by explaining some of the philosophical views underpinning social research and how these views influence research methods and outcomes. We use a project investigating the motivation of volunteers working in an adaptive co-management project to eradicate American Mink from the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland as a case study to illustrate the impact of philosophical perspectives on research. Consideration of different perspectives promoted explicit reflection of the contributing researcher’s assumptions, and the implications of his or her perspectives on the outcomes of the research. We suggest a framework to assist conservation research projects by: (1) assisting formulation of research questions; (2) focusing dialogue between managers and researchers, making underlying worldviews explicit; and (3) helping researchers and managers improve longer-term strategies by helping identify overall goals and objectives and by identifying immediate research needs.

Key words

adaptive co-management; interdisciplinarity; philosophy; social–ecological resilience

Copyright © 2008 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087