Interdisciplinary Research in Ecosystem Management: A Literature Evaluation

By Anna Pujadas Botey and Theresa Garvin.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

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The practice of interdisciplinary work claims the attention of researchers in numerous academic fields. Ecosystem management is a field especially concerned about doing interdisciplinary research in order to provide solutions to environmental problems. However, little is known about the meaning of interdisciplinary work, its purpose, and application in ecosystem management. This paper does a preliminary bibliometric analysis of works representing a body of literature on interdisciplinary research in ecosystem management. Via a search of nine key electronic databases, works using the terms ‘ecosystem management’ and various synonyms for interdisciplinary research were collected. Citations and abstracts for peer-reviewed, English, journal articles published between 1970 and 2008 were included, and resulted in 129 records. Descriptive and correspondence analysis evaluated trends and patterns in the use of the term ‘interdisciplinary’ in this body of literature. Results show that a minority of ecosystem management works mention interdisciplinary research and engage with theories of interdisciplinary research. These works tend to be published in social science journals (as opposed to natural sciences journals) and authors tend to place interdisciplinary terms in title and keywords, and employ keywords related to both the social and the natural sciences. These findings are discussed in the context of institutional, language and philosophical factors that likely discourage ecosystem management researchers from advancing theoretical considerations about interdisciplinary activity in the field.

Keywords: Ecosystem Management, Interdisciplinary Research, Interdisciplinary Theory, Literature Evaluation, Ecological Sciences

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp.195-214. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 3.504MB).

Anna Pujadas Botey

PhD Student, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Anna Pujadas Botey did her undergraduate studies in Environmental Sciences at the National Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain, her Master’s in Environmental Biology at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico, and she is currently studying her PhD in Human Geography at the University of Alberta, Canada. She has always been interested in understanding social aspects of the interaction between society and environment, and the science communication process aimed at environmental policy decisions. Her more recent work is on the interdisciplinary process of scientific knowledge production for ecosystem management research, and the particular role this field has in providing solutions to environmental problems.

Theresa Garvin

Associate Professor, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Dr. Theresa Garvin holds an undergraduate degree in Geography & Latin American Studies, a Master’s in Urban Affairs with a focus on rural health policy, and a PhD in Geography. Much of her work centers on human-environment interactions, with a specific focus on creating linkages between science, policy, and civil society. Her past and present work spans geographic scales from community-based studies, to regional analyses, to international work in both Africa and Latin America. Her research on the nature of inter- and multi-disciplinary research in academia uses current theories on interdisciplinarity to examine how and why doing interdisciplinary work is inherently challenging. It employs concepts of ontological and epistemological distances to understand how interdisciplinary work can be enabled in academic circles.