The ocean urgently needs truly collaborative science between partners, Oxford scientists say

14 April 2021

The ocean is at the heart of our planet. It provides many resources for those who live along its coasts and to the world as whole. To ensure a prosperous ocean now and in the future, marine research must offer clear recommendations based on representative information and demonstrate practical pathways, according to new research from Oxford University, the charity Nekton and the Seychelles Environment Ministry and published today in Biology Letters.

The scientists say that the inadequate and inequitable distribution of research capacity and resources, and the practice of ‘parachute science’ limit both the opportunity for leadership and participation in science. Their paper argues that only with increased participation in ocean research and decision-making can usable knowledge for current challenges improve.

It presents a case study where project aims, activities and outcomes are co-developed, co-produced and co-disseminated by local and international parties.

The paper ‘Co-development, co-production and co-dissemination of scientific research: a case study to demonstrate mutual benefits’ shares examples of processes and activities that the scientists conducted to align priorities, promote authentic interactions and magnify legacy and research outcomes.

Co-lead author, Dr Lucy Woodall, from Oxford’s Department of Zoology, said: ‘Reflecting on our experiences, we acknowledge the multitude of mutual benefits brought by respectful and long-term partnerships, the variety of activities needed to develop these and challenges of maintaining them.

‘The marine research community must ensure that diverse groups contribute to and lead ocean research and stewardship. Only by ensuring that practises promote equity and equality will there be a better managed ocean and ultimately a healthier planet.’

The paper states:

  • In order to address the priority research questions truly collaborative science between partners is needed
  • Activities and the process needs to be tailored to the situation and partners
  • The most impactful research is done when parties with diverse experiences are engaged
  • Long-term and equitable engagement will help ensure most impact of the research

Notes to Editors:

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  1. Dr Woodall is principal scientist for Nekton, which funded this project and organised the expedition. Nekton is a UK registered charity and works with ocean nations to accelerate the scientific exploration and protection of the ocean.
  2. In addition, Dr Woodall works with island nation of the Seychelles, a global leader in ocean protection.

The paper ‘Co-development, co-production and co-dissemination of scientific research: a case study to demonstrate mutual benefits’ will be published in Biology Letters.

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