Linking marine science to action: the role and utility of Outcome Mapping

gbrfishesnkimgp0509au_438x0_scale Summary:
We are seeking a highly motivated PhD student to undertake a research project in the disciplines of Marine Governance and Stakeholder Engagement.  In doing so the successful candidate will develop expertise in qualitative and quantitative social science research techniques, stakeholder engagement and the science-policy interface.  This project is co-funded by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions in Western Australia, and a top-up scholarship of $7,500 per annum for three years is available for the successful applicant.



Project Background:
Government agencies and other funders are under pressure to demonstrate significant, positive and long-lasting impacts from their investment in science and conservation.  However, aside from using traditional economic evaluation methods (e.g. cost:benefit analysis), measuring ‘impacts’ in this manner has proven a significant challenge, largely due to a lack of established methods for setting, monitoring and evaluating desired impacts across broad stakeholder groups.  Outcome Mapping, originating from the development sector, is a methodology that may prove useful in this regard, given its goal of bringing about ‘real’ and tangible change via the introduction of monitoring and evaluation considerations at the planning and implementation stages of research/conservation projects.  Outcome Mapping achieves this by moving beyond traditional measurements of science impact (e.g. number of publications) and instead focusing on ‘real-world’ impacts such as changes in the behaviour, relationships or actions of various stakeholders, and helping program managers to think systematically and practically about what they are doing so as to adaptively manage variations in strategies to bring about desired outcomes.

Despite the potential value of Outcome Mapping, its utility to conservation efforts remains untested.  This project will fill this gap, by undertaking an empirical and systematic assessment of Outcome Mapping, via a comprehensive case study of the The Northwest Shelf Flatback Turtle Conservation Program (NWSFTCP), coordinated by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions in Western Australia – a long-term program to increase the conservation and protection of the Northwest Shelf Flatback turtle population along the North-West Shelf, Australia.  In doing so, the student will not only developed strong skills in social research techniques, but also have regular interaction and engagement with a variety of stakeholders including government officials, industry representatives and various community groups throughout Western Australia, thus also developing experience in stakeholder engagement and outreach.

Essential skills/experience:
The ideal candidate will have a background in Environmental Governance or a related discipline, preferably with experience in, or knowledge of, quantitative and qualitative social research methods.  They will have; (i) a proven ability to work in an interdisciplinary environment, (ii) strong written and oral communication skills, (iii) experience in managing research projects and (iv) experience working with diverse stakeholder groups across government, industry and community.  They will also have a demonstrated ability to work as a constructive and positive member of a team.

Desirable skills/experience:
Ability/willingness to travel and operate for extended periods in remote locations.

For further information please contact Dr Chris Cvitanovic on and include a short CV outlining your educational background and experience against the skills outlined above by 23rd November 2017.  Please note that all applicants are required to skype with the primary supervisor before submitting an application.

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