Climate change research and credibility: balancing tensions across professional, personal, and public domains

S. Nordhagen, D. Calverley, C. Foulds, L. O’Keefe, X. Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


For research to positively impact society, it must be scientifically credible. The researcher plays a key role in establishing and maintaining credibility, particularly in the climate change field. This paper provides a structure for relating the credibility of researchers
themselves to that of research outputs, analysing ‘researcher credibility’ with reference to three
overlapping domains: personal, professional, and public. The researcher’s role in each domain
is considered in a reflexive way, examining the research process and the researcher’s actions.
Varied definitions of researcher credibility and possible means to achieve it in each domain are
discussed, drawing on relevant cross-disciplinary literature. We argue that, in certain contexts,
the actions of researchers can have a direct impact on the credibility of their research. There is scope for broadening researcher credibility to include more public-oriented behaviours. This, however, may be contentious and problematic: potential conflicts exist between public action and professional credibility, with the latter usually taking precedence. By contrast, though personal action/inaction rarely affects professional credibility, researchers’ personal behaviours may influence public perceptions of research credibility and the importance of addressing
climate change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-162
Number of pages14
JournalClimatic Change
Early online date12 Jun 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014


  • Research Output
  • Public Engagement
  • Climate Research Unit
  • Public Credibility
  • Climate Change Research


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