Lessons on the generation of usable science from an assessment of decision support practices

Susanna Eden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


This paper reports on an assessment of activities undertaken to accelerate the transfer of new science into water management decision making. Current trends in science policy emphasize the need for research to demonstrate tangible benefits for decision makers, at the same time resource management decisions are recognized as involving multiple scientific disciplines embedded in specific decision contexts. SAHRA, a U.S. National Science Foundation funded Science and Technology Center for Sustainability of semi-Arid Hydrology and Riparian Areas, has developed an innovative research framework intended to respond to these trends.Examination of the SAHRA experience yielded multiple lessons on research to support decision making, including strategies for reconciling needs for advances in science with providing decision support; fostering adoption of science products; and communicating with research users.These lessons reinforce basic principles of usable science described in the literature and expand evidence-based guidance on implementation, especially in building effective knowledge networks and developing adaptive capacity within the science enterprise. Lessons learned are applicable to closing the gap between science and decision-making, and building a foundation of process knowledge to aid similar efforts by others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-19
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Boundary organization
  • Decision support
  • Science communication
  • Science translation
  • Stakeholder-relevant science
  • Usable science
  • Water resource management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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