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eWater Innovation
(eWater Innovation Pty Ltd.)

Innovation Centre
Building 22
University of Canberra ACT 2601
phone: +61 2 6201 5834
fax: +61 2 6201 5038



Eco Evidence is a useful tool for anyone required to review literature on a specific topic of interest, particularly those seeking answers to cause-and-effect questions from existing literature. Eco Evidence facilitates evaluation and causal assessment in environmental management, and allows better use of the extensive pool of published research. Working with Eco Evidence, users can search and access a reusable ‘knowledge bank’ to obtain a list of citations relevant to specific cause-effect associations and the ‘atomised’ information extracted from scientific papers on which to base an evidence-based systematic literature review or causal assessment.

The Eco Evidence analysis method is available now (see documentation) and is supported by a software package that consists of an online database for storing evidence extracted from publications, and a desktop analysis tool with a user-interface to guide the analyst through the 8-step process of assessing the level of support for cause–effect hypotheses.

The software itself is divided into 2 distinct components.

Online database

The online database stores information about causal relationships extracted from environmental science studies. ‘Atomised’ information captured in the online database is specifically geared to support cause and effect assessments. The data defines (i) location or environment, (ii) methods and study design, and (iii) results. Users may search the online database for studies containing evidence of specific causal relationships then use the analysis software to evaluate the strength of evidence for a cause-effect relationship.

Analyser software (Download Now)

The analyser software reduces bias and subjectivity by allowing evaluation of evidence from environmental science literature in a standardized, transparent and objective manner. The analysis method draws together information from the literature to assess how a particular human activity or natural event may influence the environment. The information is synthesised using rules based on the ‘causal criteria’ method originally developed by epidemiologists in the 1960.

The analyser software guides users through an 8-step framework to gather evidence then weight it according to study design features. The evidence from many studies is then synthesised and evaluated to assess the level of support for a causal hypothesis. When complete, the software produces a report that provides transparent and repeatable conclusions.

Target user group

  • Researchers and students in ecology
  • Environmental policy makers
  • Practitioners in river and stream restoration/conservation


Eco Evidence has an intuitive interface that facilitates it's ease of use. However, sensible interpretation of evidence requires a deeper knowledge of ecology. As such, it is recommended for those researchers and managers with a good knowledge of species and ecological systems.

Example applications

Potential uses for the analyser software include:

  • Assessing likely environmental impacts of a development proposal;
  • Establishing whether or not an environmental impact has occurred;
  • Identifying the cause of poor water quality;
  • Using the existing scientific literature to assess the value of results from local field studies;
  • Ensuring decision-making in environmental management and evidence-based planning is defensible;
  • Providing quality assurance for consultants to environmental managers for any review they undertake;
  • Focussing a literature review on very specific questions of interest, with output publishable as a succinct review paper.

The online database may be used for a number of other purposes where water management relies on evidence.

Overview of features, advantage and benefits

Eco Evidence allows you to systematically review the scientific literature and make defensible assessments of the effect of a human activity on the environment. It can be used to:

  • assess environmental impacts of development proposals and other activities;
  • identify causes of poor water quality;
  • apply or transfer results from local field studies;
  • defend environmental decision-making and ensuring transparency and objectivity;
  • Quality assurance

The online database in Eco Evidence captures information from scientific papers and makes it more readily available to be used and re-used for environmental management.

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