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Postdoctoral Research Associate: Collation of scientific evidence for the effective management of biodiversity

Reference 'Please quote reference when applying: PF21973  (Please mention Stopdodo/Environment Jobs in your application)
Sectors Terrestrial / Aquatic Ecology & Conservation
Location England (East Anglia) - UK
Salary Additional Information £32,816-£40,322 per annum pro rata. Fixed-term contract for up to 9 months starting on 24 February 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter. Full-time
Salary (Minimum)
Salary (Maximum)
Type Fixed Term and Permanent Roles
Status Full Time
Level Mid Level
Deadline 03/02/2020
Company Name University of Cambridge
Contact Name
Website Further Details / Applications
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We have a vacancy for a postdoctoral researcher to work with Prof. William Sutherland and Dr Rebecca Smith on the Conservation Evidence project in the Conservation Science Group (http://conservationevidence.com/), within the Department of Zoology. Work will involve producing comprehensive reviews of scientific evidence on the effectiveness of interventions for the conservation of biodiversity. Synopses of evidence will be made available in a format that is accessible to conservation practitioners and policymakers.

We are looking for a natural scientist with excellent writing skills and a strong interest in in improving the effectiveness of biodiversity conservation. The successful candidate will work closely with the core Conservation Evidence team in the David Attenborough Building, Cambridge, as well as with advisory boards and external synopsis authors. The project is funded by MAVA.

It is likely that during this project you will complete reviews of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of interventions for one of the following topics: the conservation of terrestrial and fresh water invertebrates or grasslands. Review methods will follow those developed by the Conservation Evidence group at Cambridge (http://conservationevidence.com/). Reviews will be global, and the post-holder will work with international groups of expert advisers for each topic.

Conservation Evidence is a free, reliable information resource designed to support decisions about nature conservation. Our research shows that conservationists and other environmental managers often make decisions without using relevant scientific literature. Conservation Evidence aims to change global conservation practice by collating, reviewing and disseminating the science on management actions for the maintenance and restoration of global biodiversity. Our goal is for practitioners and policymakers to have easy access to, and routinely incorporate, evidence into their decision making to ensure that conservation actions are more effective. So far we have produced 15 synopses of evidence, which collate evidence for all management actions for maintaining and restoring particular species groups, habitats or ecosystem services. Others are currently being compiled. Once synopses are compiled, expert panels assess the effectiveness of each of the interventions to produce an annual open access book What Works in Conservation (https://www.conservationevidence.com/content/page/79). 

Required skills and desirable experience for the positions


  • A PhD, or equivalent experience, in an area related to biodiversity
  • Ability to efficiently understand and extract relevant information from scientific papers
  • Ability to write clear, concise summaries of scientific papers, quickly and accurately, using a standardized style
  • Detailed knowledge of biodiversity and knowledge of ecosystem services
  • Good general understanding of ecological statistics and experimental design
  • Fluent at writing in English
  • Demonstrable ability to complete projects to the stage of good quality reports/publications on time
  • Ability to travel to meetings in the UK


  • Experience of systematic review
  • Experience of working on one or more of the following subjects: the conservation of terrestrial and fresh water invertebrates or grasslands
  • Experience of summarising large amounts of information for practitioners/policymakers
  • Demonstrable success in writing engaging text for non-technical audiences (e.g.  newspaper articles, blogging)
  • Experience of database design and management
  • Ability to translate Spanish, French or other language texts into English summaries
  • Good team worker
  • Experience of writing peer-reviewed scientific papers


Duties and responsibilities


The post-holder will carry out the following tasks:


1.         Form Expert Advisory Boards

For each review, form advisory boards of at least 8-10 experts.  The responsibility of each advisory board is to review the protocol and provide input on relevant literature, review and comment on the planned interventions for evaluation, and provide a formal review of the evidence as presented in the draft synopsis of evidence.


2.         Finalize List of Interventions for Review

In collaboration with advisory boards, compile a comprehensive list of interventions, designed to benefit the specific group of species or habitat.  These will form the basis of each review.


3.         Finalize Plan for Completing Synopses

For each synopsis, complete a detailed plan, with timeline and methods, which covers compiling relevant literature, completing the synopsis, incorporating the expert review and publishing the synopsis online. 


4.         Compile Relevant Literature

Collect literature from internal Conservation Evidence databases and search contents of specialized journals or other resources, including those identified by the advisory board, following a formal and transparent search protocol. All literature citations and abstracts will be assembled into a bibliographic database that can be exported and shared.


5.         Draft Synopses of Evidence

Using standardized methods and formats developed by Conservation Evidence (https://www.conservationevidence.com/protocol/index) produce comprehensive synopses of evidence for specific topics based on the literature retrieved. Training on how to write in plain English will be provided, if necessary.


6.         Final Synopses of Evidence

Complete final synopses of the evidence and following expert review publish them online.


Main outputs expected are:

  1. Synopsis of evidence on agreed topic available on the Conservation Evidence website.  The successful candidate is likely to be lead author.


How to apply


To apply for this vacancy, please see: https://www.jobs.cam.ac.uk/job/24631/ and click on the link in the 'Apply online' section of the advert published on the University's Job Opportunities pages. This will route you to the University's Web Recruitment System, where you will need to register an account (if you have not already) and log in before completing the online application form.

Please upload your Curriculum Vitae (CV) and a covering letter in the Upload section of the online application. If you upload any additional documents which have not been requested, we will not be able to consider these as part of your application.

Please quote reference when applying and in any correspondence about this vacancy: PF21973

Deadline: Monday 3rd February 2020.

Interview date: Friday 21st February 2020.

Informal enquiries can be addressed to:

Dr Rebecca Smith, r.k.smith@zoo.cam.ac.uk


The Department of Zoology

The Department of Zoology is a large, multi-disciplinary department whose members conduct research and teaching in areas ranging from molecular biology to behavioural ecology. There are over 250 staff and graduate students in the department and the final year undergraduate class numbers 100.  The department is in the heart of the city centre at the junction of Downing Street and Corn Exchange Street on the New Museums’ site. It is well placed for all of the Park and Ride bus routes and within a twenty-minute walk of the railway station. The department prides itself on the excellence of its research and teaching, whilst at the same time providing a friendly and supportive working environment.

For further information on the Department see: http://www.zoo.cam.ac.uk/

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