Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > Who’s at the gap between research and implement...

Electronic data

  • 2015ToomeyPhD

    Accepted author manuscript, 2.27 MB, PDF document

    Available under license: CC BY-NC-ND: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

View graph of relations

Who’s at the gap between research and implementation?: The places and spaces of encounter between scientists and local people in Madidi, Bolivia

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Anne Helen Toomey
Publication date2015
Number of pages224
Awarding Institution
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Increasing attention in the conservation sciences is being paid to the existence of a ‘gap’ between research and action. Although much research has implications for management, rarely does it have real impact on the problems it seeks to address. As a result researchers are increasingly concerned with demonstrating that the impacts of their research go beyond academia. Recent scholarship has proposed various solutions for ‘bridging the gap’. However, missing from the debate is a closer analysis of who lies within the gap and what happens in that place: What kinds of encounters and misencounters occur between scientists and non-scientists during the practice of doing scientific research, especially in situations that include ‘everyday’ activities and communication (i.e. fieldwork)? This thesis approaches the issue by enacting a Participatory Action Research methodology in the Amazonian region of Madidi National Park in Bolivia, that includes a quantitative analysis of past research, semi-structured and unstructured interviews (n = 137), and workshops and focus groups (n = 12) with local inhabitants, scientists and park guards. The study demonstrates the significance of currently unacknowledged or undervalued components of the research-action gap, such as power, respect and recognition. It explains how and why within spaces of encounter and misencounter between scientists and local people, knowledge can be exchanged or hidden away, worldviews can be expanded or further entrenched, and scientific research can be welcomed or rejected. It reconceptualises the gap as a crucial, productive space within which asymmetrical relations of power between scientists and local people have the potential to be transformed. In additional, the thesis discusses the implications of these spaces for the future of conservation science and practice in postcolonial contexts, with an explicit call to action for researchers to reprioritize the who at the gap between research and action.