Outputs and Outcomes

Clear articulation of outcome-based management goals is a required component of some OAP proposals (see FFO for specific guidance), and progress toward achieving management outcomes is required in OAP annual progress reports.

The proposal should articulate the plan for improving management effectiveness, specifying the management agencies that will be targeted, and the outputs and outcomes to be achieved. For the purposes of OAP proposals and reports, outputs and outcomes are defined as the following.

Outputs are defined as information or products that directly result from OAP-funded projects. Outputs are most frequently reported quantitatively (i.e., 7 publications and 12 presentations). In addition, an output may represent the result of OAP-funded monitoring activities. Also called deliverables from a project management perspective, these direct products can include:

  • New or advanced knowledge;

  • Publications;

  • Patents;

  • Workshops;

  • New methodologies or technologies;

  • New or advanced tools (e.g., biomarkers, models);

  • Presentations;

  • Outreach Products.

Outcomes are changes in the knowledge or actions of the user (in this case, managers or policymakers) or a societal or environmental benefit that results from a project or program. These may be associated with either the funded research or activity or their resultant outputs. Outcomes are typically placed into three categories.

Improved Management Knowledge (or skill) tends to be short-term outcomes that can be manifest in a number of ways. However, because nearly all OAP research will directly result in a new or improved knowledge or skill, these outcomes must represent demonstrable changes in knowledge within the management or policy community, in addition to the scientific community.

Changes in Management Behavior occur when there is a change in management approach, or managers act upon their improved knowledge. These outcomes are often intermediate in duration. These changes in behavior will most likely be manifest through changes in resource management protocols or actions.

Improved Environmental or Societal Condition, typically long-term, includes those activities that result in changes in values, conditions, or status of an environmental resource or ecosystem. This category comprises the ultimate goal of the OAP.

In theory each one of these outcome types will lead to the other: Improved Management Knowledge → Changes in Management Behavior → Improved Environmental or Societal Condition (Benefit). Many outcomes, especially long-term changes in behaviors or values, can be difficult to quantify, and may manifest years after output generation. Some outcomes may be expressed as a trend of ecological or societal parameters over time (i.e., increasing acreage of healthy coral reefs). In addition, the transition from one outcome to another is not likely to be linear, but likely the interplay of multiple outputs and outcomes.

Specific examples of OAP-related outcomes may include:

Management application or adoption of

  • New fundamental or applied knowledge;

  • Workshop results;

  • New or improved skills;

  • New or improved methods or technology;

  • New or advanced tools (e.g., biomarkers, models);

Improved environmental or societal conditions

  • Improved water quality;

  • Increased ability to adapt to acidification;

  • Reduced effects of ocean acidification;

  • Improved sustainability of fisheries;

  • Healthy coral reefs.