Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2022

Department 1

Environmental Studies


Science is increasingly collaborative, but scientists from the Global North (GN) often fail to collaborate with local scientists or to build local scientific capacity when conducting research in the Global South (GS). This practice is known as “parachute science” or “helicopter science”. In addition to ethical concerns, this practice is problematic in the field of ecology because it may reduce the likelihood that the research will inform local resource management and science policy. I hypothesized that, because research has become increasingly collaborative, there would be a decline in parachute science over time. In addition, I hypothesized that papers that included local authors would be more likely to be cited and to be published as open access. I tested these hypotheses using bibliographic data collected from the top 25 journals in the field of ecology. Despite increased interest in and strides towards decolonizing science, parachute science remains an issue in this field, with fewer scientists from the GS (0.43 ± 0.39) included in ecological research focused on their countries than those in the GN (0.73 ± 0.32). The less economically developed a country is (based on the Human Development Index), the less likely that country is to have local authors involved in ecological research on that country (b = 0.98, r2 = 0.16, p < 0.0001). There is some reason to be optimistic, as the proportion of papers that included local scientists was significantly higher in the 2010s than in previous decades (H = 20.51, p > 0.05). In contrast to my hypothesis, I found that GN scientists are more likely than GS scientists to have their work published open access and that involving local scientists does not make it more likely that a paper will be cited. In addition to discussing these results, I will provide recommendations on how ecologists and other scientists can avoid practicing parachute science and pursue more equitable research.


Written for ES 460: Individualized Study-Research in Environmental Studies

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.