Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

History of an “Outcome”

By Hugh Possingham

Assigning an outcome to any single grant, paper or person makes a mockery of the scientific process.

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Late last year our research network scored another “outcome”. What’s more, it came “gift-wrapped” in a front page story in the Sydney Morning Herald, making it easy for everyone to see.

What was that outcome? The NSW government is adopting a version of “conservation triage” that is based on our cost-effectiveness framework. The framework we developed is called Project Prioritisation Protocol (PPP), which basically involves ranking which projects for threatened species you’ll invest money in based on the cost, the likelihood of success and the benefit to the species. Not everyone is happy with the idea of conservation triage but it’s easy to demonstrate that the approach can generate enormous benefits for biodiversity conservation.

In any event, outcomes from our research are always welcome, and not the least now as our network (the National Environmental Research Program – NERP – Environmental Decision Hub) is being reviewed for future funding. It’s easy to point to outputs like meetings, workshops and science papers, but being able to say that something led to an outcome – a change in policy, a new approach to management, or the introduction of transparency to decision-making – is something special. It’s something that takes time.

“But wait a sec,” I hear you say. “What’s this an outcome of? What meeting, workshop or paper led to this? Was it NERP or...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.