Qualitative data sharing and synthesis for sustainability science


Socio–environmental synthesis as a research approach contributes to broader sustainability policy and practice by reusing data from disparate disciplines in innovative ways. Synthesizing diverse data sources and types of evidence can help to better conceptualize, investigate and address increasingly complex socio–environmental problems. However, sharing qualitative data for re-use remains uncommon when compared to sharing quantitative data. We argue that qualitative data present untapped opportunities for sustainability science, and discuss practical pathways to facilitate and realize the benefits from sharing and reusing qualitative data. However, these opportunities and benefits are also hindered by practical, ethical and epistemological challenges. To address these challenges and accelerate qualitative data sharing, we outline enabling conditions and suggest actions for researchers, institutions, funders, data repository managers and publishers.

Publication Type
Journal Article
Nathan J. Bennett
Amber Budden, University of New Mexico
Michael Cox, Dartmouth College
Merce Crosas, Harvard University
Edward T. Game
Janis Geary, University of Alberta
Jay T. Johnson
Sebastian Karcher, Syracuse University
Jeremy Pittman, University of Waterloo
Julie A. Silva
Carly Strasser, Moore Foundation
Colleen Strawhacker, University of Colorado Boulder
Andrew Stuhl, Bucknell University
Nic Weber, University of Washington
Nature Sustainability