Statistical matching for conservation science.
Conservation biology : the journal of the Society for Conservation Biology
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Schleicher, J., Eklund, J., D Barnes, M., Geldmann, J., Oldekop, J. A., & Jones, J. P. (2020). Statistical matching for conservation science.. Conservation biology : the journal of the Society for Conservation Biology, 34 (3), 538-549. https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13448
The awareness of the need for robust impact evaluations in conservation is growing, and statistical matching techniques are increasingly being use to assess the impacts of conservation interventions. Used appropriately, matching approaches are powerful tools, but they also pose potential pitfalls. We present important considerations and best practice when using matching in conservation science. We identify three steps in a matching analysis. The first step requires a clear theory of change to inform selection of treatment and controls, accounting for real world complexities and potential spill-over effects. The second step involves selecting the appropriate covariates and matching approach. The third step is assessing the quality of the matching by carrying out a series of checks. The second and third steps can be repeated and should be finalized before outcomes are explored. Future conservation impact evaluations could be improved by increased planning of evaluations alongside the intervention, better integration of qualitative methods, considering spill-over effects at larger spatial scales, and more publication of pre-analysis plans. This will require more serious engagement of conservation scientists, practitioners and funders to mainstream robust impact evaluations into conservation. We hope that this paper will improve the quality of evaluations, and help direct future research to continue to improve the approaches on offer.
European Commission Horizon 2020 (H2020) Marie Sk?odowska-Curie actions (676108)
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External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13448
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/297757
All rights reserved, Attribution 4.0 International
Licence URL: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/