Making messy data work for conservation

Dobson, A.D.M.; Milner-Gulland, E.J.; Aebischer, Nicholas J.; Beale, Colin M.; Brozovic, Robert; Coals, Peter; Critchlow, Rob; Dancer, Anthony; Greve, Michelle; Hinsley, Amy; Ibbett, Harriet; Johnston, Alison; Kuiper, Timothy; Le Comber, Steven; Mahood, Simon P.; Moore, Jennifer F.; Nilsen, Erlend B.; Pocock, Michael J.O.; Quinn, Anthony; Travers, Henry; Wilfred, Paulo; Wright, Joss; Keane, Aidan. 2020 Making messy data work for conservation. One Earth, 2 (5). 455-465.

Before downloading, please read NORA policies.
N527916JA.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 4.0.

Download (1MB) | Preview


Conservationists increasingly use unstructured observational data, such as citizen science records or ranger patrol observations, to guide decision making. These datasets are often large and relatively cheap to collect, and they have enormous potential. However, the resulting data are generally “messy,” and their use can incur considerable costs, some of which are hidden. We present an overview of the opportunities and limitations associated with messy data by explaining how the preferences, skills, and incentives of data collectors affect the quality of the information they contain and the investment required to unlock their potential. Drawing widely from across the sciences, we break down elements of the observation process in order to highlight likely sources of bias and error while emphasizing the importance of cross-disciplinary collaboration. We propose a framework for appraising messy data to guide those engaging with these types of dataset and make them work for conservation and broader sustainability applications.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Biodiversity (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 2590-3322
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Data and Information
Date made live: 09 Jun 2020 15:04 +0 (UTC)

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Document Downloads

Downloads for past 30 days

Downloads per month over past year

More statistics for this item...