“Good environmental policymaking depends on good science,” he explains. “The challenge, however, is that scientists face professional incentives that don’t necessarily lead to good science. The Special Feature discusses some of these incentives, such as professional rewards for impressive results, which reduce accuracy, and for being the first person to report on something, which reduces the incentive to repeat prior studies in new contexts and thus diminishes the ability to generalize what we know.
“The studies in the Special Feature were designed to align the public incentives for good science with the private professional incentives of scientists. This was achieved in two ways; first, by encouraging the scientists to pose the same research question that was guided by the same theory and answered using the same methodology but was implemented in very different contexts – which enhanced generalizability; and second, by constraining what the scientists could do before and after they saw their results – which enhanced accuracy.”
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In addition to three articles co-authored by Ferraro, “Sustaining the Commons” features ten articles co-written by researchers in political science, economics, and environmental sciences from institutions including the University of Michigan, Cornell University, New York University, UCLA, UC-Santa Barbara, University of Exeter, Wageningen University, and Nanjing University.
“Understanding how we can make institutions and governance more effective is essential for successfully addressing the most important policy challenges of the 21st century,” says Ferraro. “The set of studies in this Special Feature is an exemplar of how such an understanding can be more effectively generated by partnerships between scientists and practitioners operating in synchrony across a wide range of conditions and using the very best scientific practices.”