From concepts to comparisons: A resource for diagnosis and measurement in social-ecological systems

Michael Cox*, Sergio Villamayor-Tomas, Natalie C. Ban, Graham Epstein, Louisa Evans, Forrest Fleischman, Mateja Nenadovic, Gustavo A.Garcia Lopez, Piedras Frank van Laerhoven, Chanda Meek, Irene Perez Ibarra, Michael Schoon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


A central challenge facing the study the environmental governance is the lack of commonunderstanding of important concepts. Critical concepts such as social boundaries, property rights, and resource dependence are selected and measured inconsistently across research projects and field settings, producing results that are difficult to compare. This stymies the accumulation of scientific evidence regarding the most effective ways to address challenging environmental problems. As members of the Social-ecological systems meta-analysis database (SESMAD) project, we have addressed this challenge by developing a repository of variables associated with many of the most important concepts across a range of fields related to environmental governance. In this paper we describe the infrastructure behind the repository, the range of variables it includes, and how it can enable scholars across a range of fields to more systematically select and measure the variables to include in their analyses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-216
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • Diagnosis
  • Social-ecological systems
  • Variable measurement
  • Variable repository


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