Scale decisions and good practices in socio-environmental systems modelling: guidance and documentation during problem scoping and model formulation
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organisational scale
spatial scale
temporal scale
thematic scale

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Wang, H.-H., van Voorn, G., Grant, W. E., Zare, F., Giupponi, C., Steinmann, P., Müller, B., Elsawah, S., van Delden, H., Athanasiadis, I. N., Sun, Z., Jager, W., Little, J. C., & Jakeman, A. J. (2023). Scale decisions and good practices in socio-environmental systems modelling: guidance and documentation during problem scoping and model formulation. Socio-Environmental Systems Modelling, 5, 18563.


Models of socio-environmental or social-ecological systems (SES) commonly address problems requiring interdisciplinary scientific expertise and input from a heterogeneous group of stakeholders. In SES modelling multiple interactions occur on different scales among various phenomena. These scale phenomena include the technical, such as system variables, process detail, inputs and outputs, which most often require spatial, temporal, thematic and organisational choices. From a good practice and project efficiency perspective, the problem scoping and conceptual model formulation phase of modelling is the one to address well from the outset. During this phase, intense and substantive discussions should arise regarding appropriate scales at which to represent the different phenomena. Although the details of these discussions influence the path of model development, they are seldom documented and as a result often forgotten. We draw upon personal experience with existing protocols and communications in recent literature to propose preliminary guidelines for documenting these early discussions about the scale(s) of the studied phenomena. Our guidelines aim to aid modelling group members in building and capturing the richness of their rationale for scoping and scale decisions. The resulting transcripts are intended to promote transparency of modelling decisions and provide essential support for the justification of the final model for its intended use. They also facilitate adaptive modifications of the pathway of model development via retracing decisions and iterative reflection upon alternative scale options.

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Copyright (c) 2023 Hsiao-Hsuan Wang, George van Voorn, William E. Grant, Fateme Zare, Carlo Giupponi, Patrick Steinmann, Birgit Muller, Sondoss Elsawah, Hedwig van Delden, Ioannis N. Athanasiadis, Zhanli Sun, Wander Jager, John C. Little, Anthony J. Jakeman