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The scientist abroad: Maximising research impact and effectiveness when working as a visiting scientist

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The scientist abroad: Maximising research impact and effectiveness when working as a visiting scientist

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Conservation science is crucial to global conservation efforts, and often involves projects where foreign scientists visit a host country to conduct research. Science can significantly contribute to conservation efforts in host countries. However, poorly conceived and implemented projects can lead to poor conservation outcomes, cause negative impacts on communities, and compromise future research. This paper presents guidance from scientists, managers, and conservation practitioners following the 10 th Indo-Pacific Fish Conference, the region's largest ichthyology meeting where delegates presented many examples of collaborative research. The guidance provided focuses on issues regarding planning and preparation, collaboration and reciprocity, and conduct and protocol. The intent is to provide conservation scientists with practical advice from locally based and experienced conservation scientists and practitioners about how to maximise research effectiveness and conservation benefits when working abroad. A range of activities and approaches are suggested that visiting scientists can adopt and implement to build the relationships and trust needed for effective collaboration with local actors. Building effective collaborations between local actors and visiting scientists can maximise research effectiveness and impact by ensuring that projects address the most important issues and conservation concerns, involve the appropriate people, use suitable methods and approaches, and carefully consider local contexts and ethics. Such projects are more likely to provide lasting benefits to both parties, and enhance conservation outcomes. However, both visiting scientists and local actors need to communicate clearly, be accommodating, and commit to a genuine partnership to realise these benefits.

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... These potential stumblingblocks are rarely mentioned in conventional scientific accounts, but in practice, they are nearly unavoidable aspects of long-term research in the tropics. Having dealt with (and overcome) such challenges, experienced researchers can offer practical advice to students and colleagues just beginning tropical research (Riley and Bezanson, 2018;Chin et al., 2019). However, such advice is generally only communicated privately. ...
... Therefore, a collaboration with a local organization may be an ideal way to begin. If such collaborations are well aligned, they can build local scientific capacity, and improve and sustain conservation outcomes (Chin et al., 2019). Collaborator-facilitated community engagement can also help find synergy between your research and stakeholder interests, and thereby stimulate greater buy-in for your study. ...
... Much as exotic tales from the 'frontier' make for a good story, your burden as a scientist is to report findings objectively, and strike a balance between ideology and reality. It is also critical that you avoid 'parachute research' (sensu Chin et al., 2019): researchers arriving abruptly and then leaving without sharing any of their findings. Disseminating results locally is pivotal to communities taking ownership of findings, building awareness and technical capacity, and ultimately, helping shape conservation decisions. ...
Article
Ecologists and conservation biologists conducting long-term research programs in the tropics must confront serious ethical challenges that revolve around economic inequalities, cultural differences, supporting the local communities as much as possible, and sharing the knowledge produced by the research. In this collective article, researchers share their experiences and perspectives in dealing with the ethical issues that arise during research activities and cannot be ignored.
... Research that incentivizes engagement with in-country scientists, practitioners, and other actors through collaborative or knowledge co-production research processes should be emphasized as they "complement one another" and result in the "potential to effectively use all relevant knowledge" (Abram et al., 2019). Thus, researchers need to invest in creating meaningful and long-term partnerships with local organizations (including universities, government and non-government organizations, community groups) and engage local collaborators as co-designers, co-implementers, and coauthors of research outputs (Baker et al., 2019;Chin et al., 2019). The latter in these partnerships will require research leaders and institutions to tailor their engagement strategies for obtaining feedback and input of the co-authors involved. ...
... To share the rewards and build local capacity, we recommend that funding agencies and organizations: (a) require that research projects driven by foreign research teams involve equitable sharing of funding with local research groups (Hind et al., 2015); (b) increase allocations of funding directly to local researchers in non-OECD nations to carry out their own projects (Hind et al., 2015); (c) recognize and value research efforts that weave together different forms of knowledge (Alexander et al., 2011;Mackey and Claudie, 2015); (d) include local experts in co-design of research (Stefanoudis et al., 2021); and (e) allocate funding for mentorship/training to address the significant education gap between non-OECD and OECD nations, or language barriers (Hind et al., 2015;Chin et al., 2019). ...
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Despite increasing recognition of the need for more diverse and equitable representation in the sciences, it is unclear whether measurable progress has been made. Here, we examine trends in authorship in coral reef science from 1,677 articles published over the past 16 years (2003–2018) and find that while representation of authors that are women (from 18 to 33%) and from non-OECD nations (from 4 to 13%) have increased over time, progress is slow in achieving more equitable representation. For example, at the current rate, it would take over two decades for female representation to reach 50%. Given that there are more coral reef non-OECD countries, at the current rate, truly equitable representation of non-OECD countries would take even longer. OECD nations also continue to dominate authorship contributions in coral reef science (89%), in research conducted in both OECD (63%) and non-OECD nations (68%). We identify systemic issues that remain prevalent in coral reef science (i.e., parachute science, gender bias) that likely contribute to observed trends. We provide recommendations to address systemic biases in research to foster a more inclusive global science community. Adoption of these recommendations will lead to more creative, innovative, and impactful scientific approaches urgently needed for coral reefs and contribute to environmental justice efforts.
... Proper permissions should be sought, and researchers should work closely with stakeholders, particularly local fishers, before, after, and during AT studies. Most researchers will be foreigners in Small Island Nations and should be cognizant of historical colonial contexts to avoid past failures (Chin et al., 2019). ...
Article
The ocean is a key component of the Earth's dynamics, providing a great variety of ecosystem services to humans. Yet, human activities are globally changing its structure and major components, including marine biodiversity. In this context, the United Nations has proclaimed a Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development to tackle the scientific challenges necessary for a sustainable use of the ocean by means of the Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG14). Here, we review how Acoustic animal Tracking, a widely distributed methodology of tracking marine biodiversity with electronic devices, can provide a roadmap for implementing the major Actions to achieve the SDG14. We show that acoustic tracking can be used to reduce and monitor the effects of marine pollution including noise, light, and plastic pollution. Acoustic tracking can be effectively used to monitor the responses of marine biodiversity to human‐made infrastructures and habitat restoration, as well as to determine the effects of hypoxia, ocean warming, and acidification. Acoustic tracking has been historically used to inform fisheries management, the design of marine protected areas, and the detection of essential habitats, rendering this technique particularly attractive to achieve the sustainable fishing and spatial protection target goals of the SDG14. Finally, acoustic tracking can contribute to end illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing by providing tools to monitor marine biodiversity against poachers and promote the development of Small Islands Developing States and developing countries. To fully benefit from acoustic tracking supporting the SDG14 Targets, trans‐boundary collaborative efforts through tracking networks are required to promote ocean information sharing and ocean literacy. We therefore propose acoustic tracking and tracking networks as relevant contributors to tackle the scientific challenges that are necessary for a sustainable use of the ocean promoted by the United Nations. The United Nations has proclaimed a Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. Here, we review how Acoustic animal Tracking (AT), a widely distributed methodology of tracking marine biodiversity with electronic devices, can provide a roadmap for implementing the major Actions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of life below water. This review provides a list of specific examples in how AT can help reaching most Targets by providing cutting‐edge scientific data.
... Conversely, where training opportunities are few or non-existent research collaborations risk becoming "parachute research" where local staff are used merely as collectors of data and may not be given recognition for their work or are overlooked for useful capacity building exercises such as involvement in the development of publications (Braun, 2021). There is awareness among visiting scientists to ensure appropriate in country regulations are followed and trust is built among collaborating parties (Chin et al., 2019). However equal attention to this issue is also needed from in-country stakeholders to safeguard the interests of local researchers. ...
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Research expands knowledge and information for development. This paper is an informal survey assessing the state of institutional infrastructure that facilitates the advancement of Papua New Guinean researchers within PNG and discusses the challenges that limit opportunities for training and development. Some factors that could improve research capacity are; (1) Building a common view to support local researchers among in-country stakeholders, (2) Research and higher education leadership vested in creating opportunities for training from undergraduate to higher degree levels (3) Activate and expand funding schemes to provide assistance to student researchers and build institutional capacity and (4) Promote activities that strengthen research culture such as academic publishing which has declined. While international collaborations have assisted PNG greatly in developing research to current standards, a greater level of commitment and action is needed within PNG institutions to improve and maximize the development of local researchers.
... Lastly, the social and economic advantages derived from Palau elasmobranch resources should be examined to ensure fair, equitable and culturally appropriate benefit sharing from fishing and tourism activities. Whatever action is taken, we suggest that future research and management should be carefully planned with close collaboration and genuine engagement with stakeholders and industry (Chin et al. 2019). Given the economic importance of sharks and rays to Palau and the nation's reputation and aspirations as a global conservation leader, embarking on a process such as this could have far reaching benefits not only for Palau, but for the wider Pacific region. ...
Article
Anthropogenic pressures have been increasing on shark and ray populations globally, and their conservation and management can be compromised by lack of information on their diversity and status of species. This study presents a desktop review of the sharks and rays of the Republic of Palau, drawing on citizen science, fisheries data and other scientific literature to document their diversity, economic and cultural values, and pressures affecting their populations. This account of Palau’s sharks and rays includes a preliminary assessment of risks based-on existing risk assessments, and their biological productivity. Records were found documenting 56 sharks and rays in Palau: 31 species are considered here as ‘confirmed and verified’, 10 species as ‘requires verification’, and 11 species listed as ‘plausible’. An additional two species are listed as ‘unlikely’, and two species is ‘unknown’ due to the taxonomy being unclear. The biological productivity analysis showed that the basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) had the lowest productivity of Palau’s sharks and rays, while the blue shark (Prionace glauca) showed the highest productivity of species examined. Historically, fishing mortality presented the most significant threat to Palau’s sharks and rays, but recent conservation initiatives have the potential to significantly reduce this threat as large areas are closed to fishing following the full implementation of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary in 2020. Palau’s sharks have a wide range of social and cultural values and are important to tourism. This study presents a new synthesis and overview of available information including citizen science, but also highlights the need for further local taxonomic work and research.
... It is therefore important to conceive, conduct and implement research initiatives that lead to strong conservation outcomes and do not cause negative impacts on communities and/or compromise future research efforts. Recently, Chin et al. (2019) have suggested that the engagement areas on which to focus are careful and considered planning and preparation, and effective collaboration and reciprocity, arguing that both provide appropriate conduct and protocol to help ensure that local actors and communities remain engaged. By nurturing these areas, all parties involved can receive genuine benefits, such as capacity building for local participants, and leadership and community practice for the researchers. ...
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The Olive Ridley Project (ORP) was set up to protect sea turtles and their habitats. The project was formed in 2013, and it became a registered charity in the UK in 2016. From its inception, ORP took a multidisciplinary approach to achieve its goals. Part of its objectives, and the reason why the charity came to fruition, are related to the issue of olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea ) entanglement in abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear (also known as ‘ghost gear’ or ‘ghost nets’), and the search for ghost gear and turtle entanglement ‘hot spots’ throughout the Indian Ocean. The initial ORP research questions were soon challenged by societal interests to develop inclusive educational programmes in local communities and tourist resorts that could raise awareness about the need for conservation of all sea turtle species. In February 2017, ORP opened the first veterinarian-run, fully equipped Marine Turtle Rescue Centre in the Maldives, bringing together the work of researchers, citizen scientists, volunteers, environmentalists, marine biologists and veterinarians. The present work of ORP sits on a strong and scientifically robust collaborative plan. Current ORP research projects range from sea turtle population analyses, spatial ecology, rehabilitation of injured and sick individuals, epibiont parasite analyses, precise turtle identification through photo-ID research, linking ghost gear to responsible fisheries, and analyses of ghost gear drift patterns. The programme enhances community education and outreach by engaging schoolchildren, organizing workshops, promoting sustainable use of ghost gear waste, and training citizen scientists and local fishing communities. The ORP programme encompasses many principles of research engagement, effectively combining scientific knowledge, education and action. This article explores all stages of the process (from research planning and design, to knowledge exchange and inter- and trans-disciplinary impact assessments), describing the active engagement originated by the ORP initiative. A reflective insight into the learning, enrichment and challenges of engaging researchers and community actors is also included, considering the current social and scientific framework.
... Indigenous researchers and knowledge holders and scientists from the Global South are underrepresented in conservation science. Furthermore, the conservation science community should consider how it can address the issue of "parachute science" and embody more equitable and ethical research practices -for example, through developing more meaningful local partnerships, redistributing research funds, including local researchers and authors, coproducing scientific processes and outputs, and giving back through local capacity building and knowledge sharing (Chin et al., 2019;Stefanoudis et al., 2021). ...
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Substantial efforts and investments are being made to increase the scale and improve the effectiveness of marine conservation globally. Though it is mandated by international law and central to conservation policy, less attention has been given to how to operationalize social equity in and through the pursuit of marine conservation. In this article, we aim to bring greater attention to this topic through reviewing how social equity can be better integrated in marine conservation policy and practice. Advancing social equity in marine conservation requires directing attention to: recognition through acknowledgment and respect for diverse peoples and perspectives; fair distribution of impacts through maximizing benefits and minimizing burdens; procedures through fostering participation in decision-making and good governance; management through championing and supporting local involvement and leadership; the environment through ensuring the efficacy of conservation actions and adequacy of management to ensure benefits to nature and people; and the structural barriers to and institutional roots of inequity in conservation. We then discuss the role of various conservation organizations in advancing social equity in marine conservation and identify the capacities these organizations need to build. We urge the marine conservation community, including governments, non-governmental organizations and donors, to commit to the pursuit of socially equitable conservation.
... With knowledge assimilated and owned in the country where fieldwork was conducted, projects create foundations on which to achieve a legacy of impact. Our reflections align with those of others who have specifically considered effective science collaborations in small island states [27] and who have suggested strategies for maximizing effective research when working overseas [28]. However, we feel that, within many current funding and research valuation models, the additional time, engagement and activities that are necessary to undertake this approach are rarely accounted for (but see [29]). ...
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Traditional medicines play an important role in the provision of health care in many developing countries. Their use is also significant in developed countries, increasing their commercial value. Several 'high-profile' cases of patenting of traditional medicines, without consent from or compensation to their holders, have further focussed attention on their importance. Traditional medicine usually involves biological resources and the knowledge of local and indigenous peoples and/or healers regarding their medicinal use; thus, it is interlinked with biodiversity conservation and indigenous peoples' rights over their knowledge and resources. At this multi-faceted interface, complex ethical questions arise. This article provides an overview and discussion of key issues, dilemmas and challenges. It points to possible modifications and at ways to devise new forms of intellectual property ownership that may better suit the needs of those who seek to protect traditional medicine. Yet it also questions whether such protection, which may restrict access, is the preferred option. While intellectual property protection for traditional medicines has multiple and diverse objectives, the priorities are often not clear and the strategies which could be deployed may interfere with each other, as well as with the prioritization of objectives. This is further aggravated by differences in stakeholders' concepts on ownership of knowledge and by uncertain or paradoxical effects of some potentially useful strategies. Thus, policymakers should address the multiple, multi-layered issues and questions, and try to develop a range of solutions in order to address and balance the various objectives and interests.
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Groundwork for Community-based Conservation: Strategies for Social Research
  • D Russell
  • C Harshbarger
Russell, D., Harshbarger, C., 2003. Groundwork for Community-based Conservation: Strategies for Social Research. AltaMira Press, Walnut Creek CA.