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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2017

Quantity Does Not Always Mean Quality: The Importance of Qualitative Social Science in Conservation Research

Rust, Niki A.; Abrams, Amber; Challender, Daniel W. S.; Chapron, Guillaume; Ghoddousi, Arash; Glikman, Jenny A.; Gowan, Catherine H.; Hughes, Courtney; Rastogi, Archi; Said, Alicia; Sutton, Alexandra; Taylor, Nik; Thomas, Sarah; Unnikrishnan, Hita; Webber, Amanda D.; Wordingham, Gwen; Hill, Catherine M.


Qualitative methods are important to gain a deep understanding of complex problems and poorly researched areas. They can be particularly useful to help explain underlying conservation problems. However, the significance in choosing and justifying appropriate methodological frameworks in conservation studies should be given more attention to ensure data are collected and analysed appropriately. We explain when, why, and how qualitative methods should be used and explain sampling strategies in qualitative studies. To improve familiarity with qualitative methods among natural scientists, we recommend expanding training in social sciences and increasing collaboration with social scientists. Given the scale of human impacts on the environment, this type of nuanced analytical skill is critical for progressing biodiversity conservation efforts.


Human-wildlife conflict; qualitative methods; quantitative methods; social sciences; study design

Published in

Society and Natural Resources
2017, Volume: 30, number: 10, pages: 1304-1310

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG15 Life on land

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Management
    Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

    Publication Identifiers


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