Identifying the decision to be supported: a review of papers from Environmental Modelling and Software

Richard S. Sojda, Serena H. Chen, Sondoss El-Sawah, Joseph H.A. Guillaume, A.J. Jakeman, Sven Lautenbach, Brian S. McIntosch, Andrea-Emilio Rizzoli, Ralf Seppelt, Peter Struss, Alexey A. Voinov, Martin Volk

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Two of the basic tenets of decision support system efforts are to help identify and structure the decisions to be supported, and to then provide analysis in how those decisions might be best made. One example from wetland management would be that wildlife biologists must decide when to draw down water levels to optimise aquatic invertebrates as food for breeding ducks. Once such a decision is identified, a system or tool to help them make that decision in the face of current and projected climate conditions could be developed. We examined a random sample of 100 papers published from 2001-2011 in Environmental Modelling and Software that used the phrase “decision support system” or “decision support tool”, and which are characteristic of different sectors. In our review, 41% of the systems and tools related to the water resources sector, 34% were related to agriculture, and 22% to the conservation of fish, wildlife, and protected area management. Only 60% of the papers were deemed to be reporting on DSS. This was based on the papers reviewed not having directly identified a specific decision to be supported. We also report on the techniques that were used to identify the decisions, such as formal survey, focus group, expert opinion, or sole judgment of the author(s). The primary underlying modelling system, e.g., expert system, agent based model, Bayesian belief network, geographical information system (GIS), and the like was categorised next. Finally, since decision support typically should target some aspect of unstructured decisions, we subjectively determined to what degree this was the case. In only 23% of the papers reviewed, did the system appear to tackle unstructured decisions. This knowledge should be useful in helping workers in the field develop more effective systems and tools, especially by being exposed to the approaches in different, but related, disciplines. We propose that a standard blueprint for reporting on DSS be developed for consideration by journal editors to aid them in filtering papers that use the term, “decision support”.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2012 International Congress on Environmental Modelling and Software. Managing Resources of a Limited Planet
Subtitle of host publicationPathways and Visions under Uncertainty, Sixth Biennial Meeting
EditorsR. Seppelt, A.A. Voinov, S. Lange, D. Bankamp
Place of PublicationLeipzig
PublisherInternational Environmental Modelling and Software Society (iEMSs)
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)978-88-9035-742-8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2012
Event6th International Congress on Environmental Modelling and Software 2012: Managing Resources of a Limited Planet: Pathways and Visions under Uncertainty - Leipzig, Germany
Duration: 1 Jul 20125 Jul 2012
Conference number: 6


Conference6th International Congress on Environmental Modelling and Software 2012


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