Communication in the science-policy interface: Evidence from a boundary organization in Nebraska, USA

Sechindra Vallury, Brian C. Chaffin, Samantha L. Hamlin, Craig R. Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Boundary organizations have a crucial function in environmental governance by facilitating the processes through which scientists and decision-makers generate, exchange, evaluate, and utilize knowledge to identify societal problems, propose potential solutions, and make decisions on appropriate courses of action. This support for evidence-informed decision making is essential in addressing environmental challenges effectively. Despite the growing popularity of boundary organizations, there remains a significant challenge in designing information dissemination platforms to bridge the communication divide between scientific experts and non-experts. To address this gap, we used natural language processing tools to analyze the communication strategies of a specific boundary organization – the Nebraska Water Center – and examined how these strategies evolved over time to address relevant water policy issues in the state. We identified three prominent topics in the Center's periodicals between 1970 and 2018: policy and planning, water quality and quantity, and public engagement and workforce development. The prevalence of each topic changed over time, reflecting changes in both federal and state legislative priorities and subsequent responses from the scientific community. Our results also demonstrate how boundary organizations can design information exchange platforms that consider perspectives and needs of not only scientists and policymakers but also more diverse groups of actors. These findings are critical for developing strategies for bridging science and policy in environmental governance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103558
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
StatePublished - Oct 2023


  • Boundary object
  • Boundary organizations
  • Science-policy communication
  • Science-policy interface
  • Topic modeling
  • Water governance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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