Featured link and image: NASA Watches Arctic Ice, click to see full story

Home Page (MVA) > Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) and Resources > IAMs Thematic Guide


Thematic Guide Icon

Thematic Guide to Integrated Assessment Modeling



Audience, Purpose, and Relationship

An integrated assessment needs a clear conception of its audience and purpose. While assessment projects all seek to be relevant to policy makers and to help make their decisions more informed ones, one assessment cannot answer all questions for all audiences. In the words of one integrated assessor, "integrated assessments are not Swiss Army Knives" (Dowlatabadi 1994). Keeping a clear view of the audience and purpose will shape the assessment, in some ways that are substantive and specific to each study, and in other ways that reflect general characteristics of the audience and purpose.

Several dimensions of the audience should affect the design and conduct of an assessment: the level and extent of their decision authority; the time and expertise they have to interact with the study and their interest in engaging its details; and the extent of substantive disagreement or partisan conflict in which they are involved. The audience may also have different goals for the assessment, either shared or in conflict with those of the researchers: to increase their understanding of the issue, to resolve disagreement, or to support some hidden agenda, such as seeking support for a particular decision or policy.

A few general dimensions of the decisions to be advised also have obvious effects. If the audience has a specific decision to make by a deadline, the assessment should address it and be done in time, while taking what opportunities are appropriate for broader education in the issue. A clear trade-off exists between speed of response and depth of analysis. Consideration of specific measures of abatement or adaptation require a different kind of assessment than decisions on the allocation of resources for research.

An assessment project may have multiple audiences, including decision-makers with different levels of authority, or the general public. It may be appropriate or necessary to communicate the same results in different ways for different audiences: short briefings or long conferences, fat reports or thin pamphlets. Whatever the audience or audiences, there can be many ways of addressing them and engaging them in the assessment. While it is widely argued that a central decision-oriented client must be centrally involved in developing the basic structure and questions of an assessment, this involvement is more often advocated than realized.


The next section is How Integrated and Over What Dimensions?





Parson, E.A. and K. Fisher-Vanden, Searching for Integrated Assessment: A Preliminary Investigation of Methods, Models, and Projects in the Integrated Assessment of Global Climatic Change. Consortium for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN). University Center, Mich. 1995.


Suggested Citation

Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN). 1995. Thematic Guide to Integrated Assessment Modeling of Climate Change [online]. Palisades, NY: CIESIN. Available at [accessed DATE].



Our sponsors:

TM0=o`$JB [Fj P!+t;r& L> e"e7޳lv*1VLa T$D&F&-.nKO)Jq* j|^!|12b(l4^Бaa}KMlXȔP\3)HK x׸"k`TC '\/<3tf,CnLI}Ȏce!HSZBFX&󝝙T)qgg֊+{ ^ h8gO`w_NW;VX1s6t2 e) Fa릭**@B"V*kh $