We are researchers, but not in the way that people imagine. When we embark on a project it’s important for us to understand the institutions involved, different ways of looking at the issue, the range of relevant science. We use tools such as interviews, focus groups, and literature reviews to develop this knowledge.
The communities we work with speak different languages. We help those communities understand highly technical concepts from the scientific, policy, and management realms. This requires trust, scientific knowledge, and effective communication.
We actively shape projects so that participants can see a role for themselves and engage constructively. This is not just about translation, but about how the problem is defined; what matters and what doesn’t, and how things are connected.
The process is as valuable as the product. Collaboration means building new relationships, and sharing credit for our collective work. Through collaboration our projects are far more valuable to the state of California and our many partners, and we emerge stronger and better prepared for future work.
We’re not just communicating science but sharing it: building relationships and buy-in, so that others feel empowered to use and share science that can inform difficult problems. OceanSpaces is the online community tracking the health of California’s oceans by sharing a common body of scientific knowledge.
We learn lessons, and apply them. Our approach to ecosystem monitoring is based on community priorities and lessons learned across the state. Our technical review process is tailored for each topic. We are constantly adjusting and learning to better our work on behalf of our oceans.