Thursday, June 18, 2020

Citing the IPBES Global Assessment—Appropriately and Fairly for Authors


By Kai Chan, a Coordinating Lead Author for the Global Assessment, Chapter 5.

Part of a series of posts about IPBES (the UN's Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) and an inside look at its processes. More to come.

You want an authoritative source for the decline of nature, its implications for people, the causes of this degradation. Or a single source that reviews possible futures, pathways towards sustainable ones, or promising policy options. Chances are you want to cite the IPBES Global Assessment—but what specifically, and how? There’s the Science article, the Summary for Policymakers, the whole Assessment, and its component chapters. Your choices have important implications for which documents get read, and who gets credit.

It’s tempting just to cite the Science article based on the Global Assessment. Although I’m an author of that article, and I might have done the same five years ago, I’m going to argue that this easy strategy is both unfair and inappropriate.

Díaz et al., a great citation for the Global
Assessment—but not alone.

Díaz, S., J. Settele, E. S. Brondízio, H. T. Ngo, J. Agard, A. Arneth, P. Balvanera, K. A. Brauman, S. H. M. Butchart, K. M. A. Chan, L. A. Garibaldi, K. Ichii, J. Liu, S. M. Subramanian, G. F. Midgley, P. Miloslavich, Z. Molnár, D. Obura, A. Pfaff, S. Polasky, A. Purvis, J. Razzaque, B. Reyers, R. R. Chowdhury, Y.-J. Shin, I. Visseren-Hamakers, K. J. Willis and C. N. Zayas (2019). "Pervasive human-driven decline of life on Earth points to the need for transformative change." Science 366(6471): eaax3100. https://science.sciencemag.org/content/sci/366/6471/eaax3100


Why? The Global Assessment was some 1800 pages, based on three years of work by ~500 authors. As you can see from the above, only a small fraction of those Assessment authors are represented above (for understandable reasons). The Science article is a brief abstraction. Think of it as an ad of sorts. In most cases, it is appropriate to cite Díaz et al., but in virtually every case it's important to also cite the Assessment as a whole (or its chapters):

IPBES (2019). Global assessment report of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. S. Díaz, J. Settele, E. Brondízio and H. T. Ngo. Bonn, Germany, IPBES Secretariat: 1753. Doi: 10.5281/zenodo.3831674 https://ipbes.net/global-assessment

For the Assessment itself as above, only four names are listed (the Co-Chairs and Hien Ngo, the essential lead staff member), but Google Scholar does credit a broader set of authors (I’m not sure whom; I do know it’s on my profile). Because of this uncertainty, but also because of the imprecision of citing a massive 1800-page Assessment for a single point, it’s often better to cite the relevant chapter. You can download the full set of citations for the IPBES Global Assessment here (in BibTeX format).

There are some points that are integrative across multiple chapters, e.g., trends in biodiversity and ecosystem services, and their causes (Chapter 2 Nature, 2 NCP, 2 Drivers); transformative change and how it might be implemented (Chapters 5 and 6). In such cases, it often makes sense to cite the whole Assessment, or the Summary for Policymakers (the “SPM”):



IPBES (2019). Summary for policymakers of the global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. S. Díaz, J. Settele, E. Brondízio, M. Guèze, J. Agard, A. Arneth, P. Balvanera, K. Brauman, S. Butchart, K. Chan, L. Garibaldi, K. Ichii, J. Liu, S. M. Subramanian, G. Midgley, P. Miloslavich, Z. Molnár, D. Obura, A. Pfaff, S. Polasky, A. Purvis, J. Razzaque, B. Reyers, R. R. Chowdhury, Y.-J. Shin, I. Visseren-Hamakers, K. Willis, and C. Zayas. Bonn, Germany, IPBES Secretariat. Doi: 10.5281/zenodo.3553579 https://www.ipbes.net/news/ipbes-global-assessment-summary-policymakers-pdf

But like with the Science article, only a small number of the 500 authors of the Assessment are authors of the SPM (the Coordinating Lead Authors, Co-Chairs, and two key staff). Again, this is entirely understandable and appropriate (writing the SPM was a huge undertaking), and my point isn't to take issue with the rules. Rather, many Lead Authors (LAs) contributed crucial insights to the chapters that formed the basis for the SPM, so let's cite the chapters also to give them credit for that.

Moreover, the SPM is not a scientific document, but rather a science-policy document. It doesn’t cite the many thousands of relevant studies in the scientific literature. These connections should be made prominent—in fairness to the thousands of authors who contributed to that large evidence base.

If you want to make a point about the evidence, cite the Assessment itself and/or its chapters. For global goals, cite Chapter 3 (below).

So, if you want to make a point about what the over-100 nations agreed to (it was 132 in May 2019), cite the SPM, but if you want to make a point about the basis of evidence, cite the Assessment itself and/or its chapters. For those interested in those finer points, below are the chapters, appropriate citation info, and what you might find most interesting and relevant within each.

A final wrinkle I just came to understand properly: Contributing Authors (CAs), who may have contributed a substantial section to the text (or just a paragraph), are not listed on official citations—even on the chapters. This is because unlike the Lead Authors, etc., Contributing Authors are not chosen for various dimensions of diversity through official processes involving the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel and Bureau. There is a need for thorough and even representation of (e.g.) scholars from less-developed nations, so I'm not arguing with the rules. But if there is a peer-reviewed paper associated with a chapter, it should better reflect the intellectual contributions of the full set of authors.

...

Chapter 1 sets the stage for the Assessment, and introduces an important historical narrative about economic development, and how some nations and regions have developed more rapidly somewhat at the expense of others, by externalizing impacts on nature.

Brondízio, E. S., S. Díaz, J. Settele, H. T. Ngo, M. Guèze, Y. Aumeeruddy-Thomas, X. Bai, A. Geschke, Z. Molnár, A. Niamir, U. Pascual, A. Simcock and J. Jaureguiberry (2019). Chapter 1: Introduction to and rationale of the global assessment. Global assessment report of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. E. S. Brondízio, J. Settele, S. Díaz and H. T. Ngo: xxx-yyy. Doi: 10.5281/zenodo.3831853

Chapter 2 has three parts, each essentially forming its own chapter. These review the trends since 1970 in (a) nature, including biodiversity; (b) nature’s contributions to people, including ecosystem services; and (c) the drivers of change in nature and its contributions to people:

Purvis, A., Z. Molnar, D. Obura, K. Ichii, K. Willis, N. Chettri, E. Dulloo, A. Hendry, B. Gabrielyan, J. Gutt, U. Jacob, E. Keskin, A. Niamir, B. Öztürk and P. Jaureguiberry (2019). Status and trends - nature. Global assessment report of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. E. S. Brondízio, J. Settele, S. Díaz and H. Ngo. Doi: 10.5281/zenodo.3832006

Brauman, K. A., L. A. Garibaldi, S. Polasky, C. Zayas, Y. Aumeeruddy-Thomas, P. Brancalion, F. DeClerck, M. Mastrangelo, N. Nkongolo, H. Palang, L. Shannon, U. B. Shrestha and M. Verma (2019). Status and trends - nature’s contributions to people (NCP). Global assessment report of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. E. S. Brondízio, J. Settele, S. Díaz and H. Ngo. Doi: 10.5281/zenodo.3832036

Balvanera, P., A. Pfaff, A. Viña, E. García Frapolli, L. Merino, P. A. Minang, N. Nagabata, S. Hussein and A. Sidorovich (2019). Status and trends - drivers of change. Global assessment report of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. E. S. Brondízio, J. Settele, S. Díaz and H. Ngo. Doi: 10.5281/zenodo.3831882

Chapter 3 assess the progress toward international goals for nature (e.g., the Aichi Targets under the Convention on Biological Diversity) and for sustainability (the UN Sustainable Development Goals):

Butchart, S. H. M., P. Miloslavich, B. Reyers, S. M. Subramanian, C. Adams, E. Bennett, B. Czúcz, L. Galetto, K. Galvin, V. Reyes-García, G. L. R., T. Bekele, W. Jetz, I. B. M. Kosamu, M. G. Palomo, M. Panahi, E. R. Selig, G. S. Singh, D. Tarkhnishvili, H. Xu, A. J. Lynch, M. T. H. and A. Samakov (2019). Assessing progress towards meeting major international objectives related to nature and nature’s contributions to people. Global assessment report of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. E. S. Brondízio, J. Settele, S. Díaz and H. Ngo. Doi: 10.5281/zenodo.3832053

Chapter 4 assesses a wide range of scenarios and models projecting (mostly non-transformative) changes into the future:

Shin, Y. J., A. Arneth, R. Roy Chowdhury, G. F. Midgley, P. Leadley, Y. Agyeman Boafo, Z. Basher, E. Bukvareva, A. Heinimann, A. I. Horcea-Milcu, P. Kindlmann, M. Kolb, Z. Krenova, T. Oberdorff, P. Osano, I. Palomo, R. Pichs Madruga, P. Pliscoff, C. Rondinini, O. Saito, J. Sathyapalan and T. Yue (2019). Plausible futures of nature, its contributions to people and their good quality of life. Global assessment report of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. E. S. Brondízio, J. Settele, S. Díaz and H. Ngo. Doi: 10.5281/zenodo.3832074

Chapter 5 assesses the pathways toward sustainable futures, reviewing a broad range of optimistic scenarios, and identifying the levers and leverage points for transformative changes towards sustainability:

Chan, K. M. A., J. Agard, J. Liu, A. P. D. d. Aguiar, D. Armenteras, A. K. Boedhihartono, W. W. L. Cheung, S. Hashimoto, G. C. H. Pedraza, T. Hickler, J. Jetzkowitz, M. Kok, M. Murray-Hudson, P. O'Farrell, T. Satterfield, A. K. Saysel, R. Seppelt, B. Strassburg, D. Xue, O. Selomane, L. Balint, A. Mohamed (2019). Pathways towards a Sustainable Future. Global assessment report of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. E. S. Brondízio, J. Settele, S. Díaz and H. Ngo. Doi: 10.5281/zenodo.3832100

Chapter 5 has also sparked peer-reviewed articles, including one in People and Nature. That paper, about the levers and leverage points, includes a critical reflection of what is novel, as well as a clearer and more scholarly representation of the rigorous expert deliberation process that yielded those insights. (And there, finally, contributing authors will finally get credit.)

Chan, K. M. A., D. R. Boyd, R. K. Gould, J. Jetzkowitz, J. Liu, B. Muraca, R. Naidoo, P. Olmsted, T. Satterfield, O. Selomane, G. G. Singh, R. Sumaila, H. T. Ngo, A. K. Boedhihartono, J. Agard, A. P. D. d. Aguiar, D. Armenteras, L. Balint, C. Barrington-Leigh, W. W. L. Cheung, S. Díaz, J. Driscoll, K. Esler, H. Eyster, E. J. Gregr, S. Hashimoto, G. C. H. Pedraza, T. Hickler, M. Kok, T. Lazarova, A. A. A. Mohamed, M. Murray-Hudson, P. O'Farrell, I. Palomo, A. K. Saysel, R. Seppelt, J. Settele, B. Strassburg, D. Xue and E. S. Brondízio (2020). "Levers and leverage points for pathways to sustainability." People and Nature. https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pan3.10124

 

Chapter 6 assesses options, obstacles and opportunities for transformative change, focusing more narrowly than 5 on particular policy and governance tools:

Razzaque, J., I. J. Visseren-Hamakers, P. McElwee, G. M. Rusch, E. Kelemen, E. Turnhout, M. Williams, A. P. Gautam, A. Fernandez-Llamazares, I. Chan, L. Gerber, M. Islar, S. Karim, M. Lim, L. J., L. G., A. Mohammed, E. Mungatana and R. Muradian (2019). Options for Decision-makers. Global assessment report of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. E. S. Brondízio, J. Settele, S. Díaz and H. Ngo. Doi: 10.5281/zenodo.3832108


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CHANS Lab Views by Kai Chan's lab is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://chanslabviews.blogspot.com.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Kai, we are working on improving the citation of IPBES products in compliance with the IPBES data management policy. You will find that concerns you have raised are being addressed. An example of the citation of Chapter 5 of the IPBES global assessment is available here https://zenodo.org/record/3832100#.XvR92OdS8ZU

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