The benefits of increasing the contribution of the social sciences in the fields of environmental and conservation science disciplines are increasingly recognised. However, integration between the social and natural sciences has been limited, in part because of the barrier caused by major philosophical differences in the perspectives between these research areas. This paper aims to contribute to more effective interdisciplinary integration by explaining some of the philosophical views underpinning social research and how these views influence research methods and outcomes. The authors use a project investigating the motivation of volunteers working in an adaptive co-management project to eradicate American Mink from the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland as a case study to illustrate the impact of philosophical perspectives on research. Consideration of different perspectives promoted explicit reflection of the contributing researcher’s assumptions, and the implications of his or her perspectives on the outcomes of the research. A framework is suggested to assist conservation research projects by:
- assisting formulation of research questions;
- focusing dialogue between managers and researchers, making underlying worldviews explicit; and
- helping researchers and managers improve longer-term strategies by helping identify overall goals and objectives and by identifying immediate research needs.