Date of this Version
Fire Science Brief, Issue 124, December 2010
Interagency wildland fire policy directs manager to apply “best available science” to management plans and activities. But what does “best available science” mean? With a vague defi nition of this concept and few guidelines for delivering or integrating science into management, it can be difficult for scientists to effectively provide managers with the science they need. As a result, valuable information and tools can go unused. To better understand the factors infl uencing research use, principal investigator Vita Wright conducted a literature review, agency meetings, in-depth interviews, and a survey of approximately 500 fi re and fuels specialists and decision makers. Her study was based on social science theory, including the Diffusion of Innovations theory, which notes that there is a time lag between the introduction of a new idea and its full acceptance and adoption. By investigating social science theory and gathering perspectives from the fire management community, Wright explored the following factors that can support, or impede, research use: individual beliefs and attitudes, education and work backgrounds, current position, and organizational culture. Based on her research, Wright was able to provide tangible recommendations aimed at shortening the time to diffusion by improving the delivery, communication, and ultimately, the use of the best available scientific information.