4 May 2015 Science Briefs

SNAMP PUB #38: Characterizing the networks of digital information that support collaborative adaptive forest management in Sierra Nevada forests

Article Title: Characterizing the networks of digital information that support collaborative adaptive forest management in Sierra Nevada forests

Authors: Shufei Lei, Alastair Iles and Maggi Kelly

Research Highlights:


  • We characterized information use and flow across numerous online information channels, systems, and technologies.

  • We reviewed SNAMP products in scientific knowledge networks (peer reviewed journals and USDA Digital Collections), web services and applications (the SNAMP website, Flickr, YouTube, and Facebook), and online media networks (blogs, newspapers, and SNAMP news).

  • We tracked each information product using citation analysis, web analytics, and content analysis.

  • Information technologies greatly facilitate the flow and use of digital information, leading to multiparty collaborations such as knowledge transfer and public participation in science research.

Background:

The open exchange of information about science and management between participants and the public is critical for collaborative adaptive management (CAM). The use and flow of information in collaborative adaptive management has not been characterized in detail in the literature, and currently there are opportunities to track information flow in such contexts using powerful new information monitoring tools to characterize information products through their production, transport, use, and monitoring. We used a range of these tools to investigate the use of various science and management information products in SNAMP.

In the SNAMP project we created numerous different information channels including scientific knowledge networks (peer reviewed journals and USDA Digital Collections), web services and applications (the SNAMP website, Flickr, YouTube, and Facebook), and online media networks (blogs, newspapers, and SNAMP news). We tracked each information product using citation analysis, web analytics, and content analysis.

Results:

We characterized SNAMP information products in scientific knowledge networks, web applications and services networks, and online media networks. In the scientific knowledge networks we reviewed the amount (total citations = 190), timing (between 2 to 19 months before first citation) and type of citations for the first 23 SNAMP peer reviewed publications. Publications focusing on forest landscapes and wildlife in the Sierra Nevada forests were primarily cited within the United States, while publications focusing on LiDAR technologies and website development were globally cited. In web applications and service networks, we evaluated the SNAMP website, our Flickr photographs, the SNAMP Facebook page, and You Tube page using Google analytics. The website traffic pattern suggests that visitors to the SNAMP website focused on content in the form of photos and documents. The website and Flickr analytics show that most users were interested in wildlife studies. In online media networks, we evaluated the production and use of seventy-one news articles about SNAMP collected from the SNAMP News and Other Media archive (34 articles), Google Blog Search results (32 articles), and the LexisNexis searches (5 articles). These examples of SNAMP online presence began later in the SNAMP project, after key SNAMP science publications had been released.

Conclusions:


  1. Increasing the flow of information positively contributes to collaboration. More methods for information distribution increase information availability, accessibility, and discoverability.

  2. Information technologies dramatically increased the speed and the distance that information could travel, and networks of information systems—not just networks of people—can help sustain collaborative learning by enabling SNAMP researchers to transfer knowledge across multiple organizations.

  3. Mixed research methods (citation analysis, web analytics, and content analysis) to measure and evaluate digital information are an effective way of monitoring and analyzing information use and flow in real time, not just after a project has ended.

  4. This study did not focus on how SNAMP information products were used by environmental managers to adjust their management plans and strategies.

Full Reference:
Lei, S., A. Iles, and M. Kelly. 2015. Characterizing the networks of digital information that support collaborative adaptive forest management in Sierra Nevada forests. Published ahead of print in Environmental Management

The full paper is available here.

For more information about the SNAMP project and the Public Participation Team, please see: http://snamp.cnr.berkeley.edu and http://snamp.cnr.berkeley.edu/teams/public-participation.

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