Most agree that social and ecological approaches should be integrated to ensure sustainable management of natural resources. However, an analysis of the content of three problem-based journals shows that if social sciences are included at all, they are typically subservient to natural sciences, and that quantitative approaches are privileged. We argue that true integration is achievable only if natural sciences and social sciences are each robust and if they meet eye to eye. We call for more openness to stand-alone social science research in problem-based journals, especially to research using qualitative methods. We highlight the potential insights derived from studying decision makers at the microlevel: the pastoralists, farmers, ranchers, and foresters who make final management choices. We argue that publishing such qualitative social sciences promotes dialogue across disciplines, strengthens integration, and increases the real-world impact of research.
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