So, you think you’re an expert?

Who’s an expert & what is expert knowledge?

We rely on it to develop hypotheses, design experiments, analyse data and inform decisions. But rarely are we explicit about how it is captured and used. We’re talking about expert knowledge. In all aspects of conservation science and practice, the use of expert knowledge is growing. This increased reliance is driven by the need to characterize dynamic, complex systems; limited resources to collect new empirical data; and the urgency of many conservation decisions. But what is expert knowledge, anyway? To throw a little light on the topic I, along with colleagues, have attempted to set out some guidelines on how to elicit and use expert knowledge. The results of this enquiry have just been published in Conservation Biology.

Expert knowledge is substantive information on a particular topic that is not widely known by others. Who qualifies as an expert? An expert is generally considered someone who holds information about a given topic and who should be deferred to in its interpretation. The predictions by experts of what may happen in a particular context are known as expert judgments…




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