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About This Guide

About This Guide

This Guide to Collaborative Science is designed to:

  • Introduce users to the collaborative science approach
  • Provide guidance on envisioning and planning a project
  • Support the design and management of projects through practical tools and relevant project examples

This guide has relevance to collaborative research, science transfer, and catalyst projects supported through the NERRS Science Collaborative and similar funding programs, as well as other science-based research, monitoring, assessment, and policy analysis efforts that require collaboration and adaptation to meet the needs of intended users. This guide is applicable to projects that draw on both the natural and social sciences.

While we use Science Collaborative projects as examples, we designed the guide to be useful to people within the NERR System and beyond who are interested in developing collaborative science projects that address urgent natural resource management challenges in a variety of settings and with different sources of funding.

About the Authors

The NERRS Science Collaborative Program, hosted by the University of Michigan Water Center, designed this guide based on observations and lessons learned from projects supported through the NERRS Science Collaborative. We appreciate the creativity, dedication, and reflections of project teams whose work is featured here, as well as the insight, skills, and expertise brought by the Science Collaborative ’s extended team and the Graham Sustainability Institute ’s Alex Haddad, Fatimah Bolhassan, and David Mudie.

We gratefully acknowledge as inspiration the Collaborative Project Toolkit developed by the University of New Hampshire-based team that hosted the Science Collaborative Program from 2010-2015. Many of the tips, case studies, and resources that are included throughout this guide were originally featured in the Collaborative Project Toolkit. Special thanks to Cory Riley, Brita Jessen, Paige Gill, Dolores Leonard, and Jen West for helping inventory and revise the original Toolkit, and to Lynn Vaccaro for applying her expert process management knowledge to the development of this revised guide.

We are hugely grateful to Deanna Erickson, Bree Turner, Coreen Weilminster, and Kawika Winter for working alongside us to co-develop the Collaborative Mindset and Principles featured in this guide, and to the National Estuarine Research Reserve System’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Working Group for welcoming us and helping us elevate our thinking about knowledge in all its forms.