Consequences of information suppression in ecological and conservation sciences

Driscoll, Don A., Garrard, Georgia E., Kusmanoff, Alexander M., Dovers, Stephen, Maron, Martine, Preece, Noel, Pressey, Robert L., and Ritchie, Euan G. (2021) Consequences of information suppression in ecological and conservation sciences. Conservation Letters, 14 (1). e12757.

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Abstract

Suppressing expert knowledge can hide environmentally damaging practices and policies from public scrutiny. We surveyed ecologists and conservation scientists from universities, government, and industry across Australia to understand the prevalence and consequences of suppressing science communication. Government (34%) and industry (30%) respondents reported higher rates of undue interference by employers than did university respondents (5%). Internal communications (29%) and media (28%) were curtailed most, followed by journal articles (11%), and presentations (12%). When university and industry researchers avoided public commentary, this was mainly for fear of media misrepresentation, while government employees were most often constrained by senior management and workplace policy. One third of respondents reported personal suffering related to suppression, including job losses and deteriorating mental health. Substantial reforms are needed, including to codes of practice, and governance of environmental assessments and research, so that scientific advice can be reported openly, in a timely manner and free from interference.

Item ID: 64455
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1755-263X
Keywords: academic freedom, advocacy, conservation policy, corruption, decision making, environmental impact assessment, freedom of information, public discourse, scientific censorship, scientific integrity
Copyright Information: © 2020 The Authors. Conservation Letters published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Date Deposited: 23 Sep 2020 07:35
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180504 Marine biodiversity @ 100%
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