Distinguishing collaboration from contribution in environmental research

  • Kenneth ShockleyEmail author
  • Whitney G. Lash-Marshall
  • Kathryn Bryk Friedman
  • Paul D. Hirsch


In this paper, we distinguish contributory from collaborative approaches to interdisciplinary environmental research. A characteristic feature of the collaborative approach is that emphasis is placed on the process of collaborative problem formulation. Rather than responding to a pre-described problem by supplementing disciplinary perspectives and methodologies as needed, a collaborative research process entails attending to the characterization of the problem itself as a necessary object of interdisciplinary research. We suggest that clearly distinguishing collaborative from contributory models of interdisciplinary environmental research, and explicitly practicing collaborative research, will help foster a culture of robust interdisciplinary engagement well suited to addressing many of today’s complex environmental problems.


Collaboration Contribution Interdisciplinary research Research culture Complex environmental problems 


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Copyright information

© AESS 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth Shockley
    • 1
    Email author
  • Whitney G. Lash-Marshall
    • 2
  • Kathryn Bryk Friedman
    • 3
  • Paul D. Hirsch
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, Sustainability AcademyUniversity at BuffaloBuffaloUSA
  2. 2.SUNY College of Environmental Science and ForestrySyracuseUSA
  3. 3.Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, University at Buffalo and Regional InstituteState University of New YorkBuffaloUSA

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