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Permafrost Research Priorities Survey

Everyone was invited to participate in the Permafrost Research Priorities (PRP) process. This process was coordinated by the International Permafrost Association (IPA) and the Climate and Cryosphere project (CliC) and aims at identifying the top priorities in permafrost research for the next ten years. The process will span much of 2014 engaging the research community and will result in a short publication listing and putting into context research priorities. The document is planned to become the benchmark against which permafrost research will be gauged starting in 2015. It will form one of the outputs of the International Conference on Arctic Research Planning (ICARP III).

Background information on the survey and on the methods used in the process is available in the framework document. The methods are directly inspired by the ones outlined by Sutherland et al. (2011).

We saught forward-looking research questions from individuals with professional interests in understanding physical, biogeochemical, ecological, and social processes of importance to permafrost areas around the globe.

There were two parts to this survey:

We started with research question input in Part 1. We asked participants to carefully consider the requirements and the scope of these research questions and to formulate up to three of them, indicating a potential “theme” for each of them. We asked participants to carefully consider the following criteria:

The questions:

1. Need to be answerable through a realistic research design (which can rely on future technological developments),
2. Need to have a factual answer that does not depend on value judgments,
3. Need to address important gaps in knowledge and/or technology,
4. Need to have a spatial and temporal scope that could reasonably be addressed by a research team or a consolidated research program,
5. Should not be formulated as a general topic area (e.g. geomorphology, ecology)
6. Should not be answerable with “it all depends”,
7. Except if questioning a precise statement (“does the Earth go round the sun?”), should not be answerable by yes or no (i.e. not “is X better for permafrost than Y”),
8. If related to impact and interventions, should contain a subject, an intervention and a measurable outcome.

In Part 2, we asked for background and affiliation information for statistical purposes. We also asked for your email address to follow up with the crucial voting portion of this process.

References: Sutherland, W.J., Fleishman, E., Mascia, M.B., Pretty, J., and Rudd, M.A., 2011: Methods for collaboratively identifying research priorities and emerging issues in science and policy. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 2: 238-247.

Contact information:
If you have concerns or questions about this study, please contact the IPA Secretariat, Karina Schollaen () or the CliC Secretariat, Jenny Baeseman ().


The Survey closed on 20 September.  

A copy of all the questions submitted will be made available sometime in October.