The art of co-production of knowledge in environmental sciences and management: lessons from international practice

Environ Manage. 2018 Jun;61(6):885-903. doi: 10.1007/s00267-018-1028-3. Epub 2018 Apr 5.


This review paper addresses the challenging question of "how to" design and implement co-production of knowledge in climate science and other environmental and agricultural sciences. Based on a grounded theory review of nine (9) published case studies of transdisciplinary and collaborative research projects, the paper offers a set of common themes regarding specific components and processes for the design, implementation, and achievement of co-production of knowledge work, which represent the "Modus Operandi" of knowledge co-production. The analysis focuses on practical methodological guidance based on lessons from how different research teams have approached the challenges of complex collaborative research. We begin by identifying broad factors or actions that inhibit or facilitate the process, then highlight specific practices associated with co-production of knowledge and necessary competencies for undertaking co-production. We provide insights on issues such as the integration of social and professional cultures, gender and social equity, and power dynamics, and illustrate the different ways in which researchers have addressed these issues. By exploring the specific practices involved in knowledge co-production, this paper provides guidance to researchers on how to navigate different possibilities of the process of conducting transdisciplinary and co-production of knowledge research projects that best fit their research context, stakeholder needs, and research team capacities.

Keywords: Climate; Co-production of knowledge; Environmental and agricultural sciences; International; Research approach.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Climate Change*
  • Conservation of Natural Resources / methods*
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Decision Making
  • Ecology / methods*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication
  • International Cooperation
  • Research Design / standards*