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ESCALATE Synthesis Projects

ESCALATE offers innovative education to its PhD students in the form of ESCALATE Synthesis Projects. These projetcs are designed as a two-part series of education and research workshops (one at a partner institution and one at the UFZ) and addresses doctoral researchers and other scholars in the early stages of their career.

The main concepts and aims covered by ESCALATE Synthesis Projects are:

  • Collaboratively conduct a scientific synthesis project from start to finish
  • Form a team of 8-15 PhD students, 4-6 supervisors and postdocs
  • Learn to work in an international and interdisciplinary team from at least two institutions
  • Develop and submit a manuscript
  • Apply knowledge gathered in scientific and soft-skill courses
  • Practice collaborative paper writing
  • Get familiar with the publication process
  • Learning by collaborating
  • Networking and role models

The participants attend two interdisciplinary workshops on a topical research question, learn how to synthesize and review previous scholarship and collaboratively draft a research paper. The final goal of ESCALATE Synthesis Projects is to prepare and submit a manuscript to an international peer-reviewed journal, whereby all participants will be listed as co-authors.

Schedule of an ESCALATE Synthesis Project Typical schedule of an ESCALATE Synthesis Project

The first workshop serves to discuss key concepts and to develop a research agenda. This usually includes a one-night stay at the Selside–Yorkshire Dales Outdoor Adventure Centre of the University of Leeds, with outdoor activities (e.g. rock climbing, caving) and various other social and team-building activities with a view to build a sustainable network of young scholars interested in nature conservation and ecosystem services.

Caving experience Team building experience at the Selside Outdoor Centre of the University of Leeds.

After the kick-off workshop, all participants will examine key scholarly works and original data, following methods and guidelines agreed upon in the first meeting. The expected workload for the literature review, data extraction and analysis is about 60 hours per participant within a six-month period. During those six months, work groups and the entire cohort will remain in touch via Skype to discuss their work. These update meetings will also monitor workload to ensure participation does not disrupt the progress of the individual doctoral research projects. Work will be closely supported by 2-3 researchers from the partner institute and a similar number from the UFZ.

Developing research questions Brainstorming research questions during the first workshop.


We then meet again for a second workshop where we synthesize the literature and data sources reviewed, analyze the data and discuss how the resulting research paper could be framed and organized. Typically a manuscript is submitted to a peer-reviewed journal a few months after the second meeting.

Previously published papers from ESCALATE Synthesis Projects include:

Dittrich, A., von Wehrden, H., Abson, D.J., Bartkowski, B., Cord, A.F., Fust, P., Hoyer, C., Kambach, S., Meyer, M.A., Radzevičiūtė, R., Nieto-Romero, M., Seppelt, R., Beckmann, M., (2017):
Mapping and analysing historical indicators of ecosystem services in Germany
Ecological Indicators 75 , 101 - 110

Ziv, G., Mullin, K., Boeuf, B., Fincham, W., Taylor, N., Villalobos-Jiménez, G., von Vittorelli, L., Wolf, C., Fritsch, O., Strauch, M., Seppelt, R., Volk, M., Beckmann, M., (2016):
Water quality is a poor predictor of recreational hotspots in England
PLOS One 11 (11), e0166950

Ziv, G., Hassall, C., Bartkowski, B., Cord, A.F., Kaim, A., Kalamandeen, M., Landaverde-González, P., Melo, J.L.B., Seppelt, R., Shannon, C., Václavík, T., Zoderer, B.M., Beckmann, M., (2018):
A bird’s eye view over ecosystem services in Natura 2000 sites across Europe
Ecosystem Services 30 (Part B), 287 - 298