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Copyright © 2002 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance.

The following is the established format for referencing this article:
Hoffman, P. 2002. Consuming research and closing the gap. Conservation Ecology 6(2): r11. [online] URL: http://www.consecol.org/vol6/iss2/resp11/

Response to Wayne Tyson 2002. "Producers and consumers of research"

Consuming Research and Closing the Gap

Philip Hoffman

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Seattle District

In his comments about research results and their communication, Wayne Tyson (2002) has actually clarified a point I was trying to make in an earlier comment to Conservation Ecology (Hoffman 2002). Knowledge will always pass imperfectly from one person to another, and scientific knowledge often passes with the greatest imperfections. Expectations are high and, too often, scientists themselves are unwilling to admit what they don't know. Managers and the public expect scientists to know and so, when conclusions are presented forcefully, then it is assumed that they are “facts.” When authors are questioned or crticized, they often don't want to admit their own ignorance or uncertainty, and so begins the downward spiral alluded to by Tyson.

This is what leads, I believe, to the knowledge gap that Stilgoe (2002) was discussing. Too often, we scientists put our egos into our work and then hunker down when that work is critically reviewed. Instead of saying “she didn't understand my conclusions and I wasn't clear on the uncertainty of it all,” we fight back. Thus, knowledge gaps grow, and the public and resource managers lose trust in the ability of science to address pressing problems. We would all do well to follow Tyson's advice and look for the knowledge gaps that criticism often points out, and then seek to fill these gaps rather than fight them.

Published: November 25, 2002


Responses to this article are invited. If accepted for publication, your response will be hyperlinked to the article. To submit a comment, follow this link. To read comments already accepted, follow this link.


Hoffman, P. 2002. Building bridges across the gap. Conservation Ecology 6(1):r15. (Online) URL: http://www.consecol.org/Journal/vol6/iss1/resp15

Stilgoe, J. 2002. Some reservations about the gap concept. Conservation Ecology 5(2):r2. [Online] URL: http://www.consecol.org/Journal/vol5/iss2/resp2

Tyson, W. 2002. Producers and consumers of research. Conservation Ecology 6(2): r3. [Online] URL: http://www.consecol.org/Journal/vol6/iss2/resp3

Address of Correspondent:
Philip Hoffman
P.O. Box 3755
Seattle, Washington 98124 USA
Phone: 206-764-6577

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