A framework for characterising and evaluating the effectiveness of environmental modelling

Serena H. Hamilton, Baihua Fu, Joseph Guillaume, Jennifer Badham, Sondoss ElSawah, Patricia Gober, Randall J. Hunt, Takuya Iwanaga, Anthony J. Jakeman, Daniel P. Ames, Allan Curtis, Mary C. Hill, Suzanne A. Pierce, Fateme Zare

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)
55 Downloads (Pure)


Environmental modelling is transitioning from the traditional paradigm that focuses on the model and its quantitative performance to a more holistic paradigm that recognises successful model-based outcomes are closely tied to undertaking modelling as a social process, not just as a technical procedure. This paper redefines evaluation as a multi-dimensional and multi-perspective concept, and proposes a more complete framework for identifying and measuring the effectiveness of modelling that serves the new paradigm. Under this framework, evaluation considers a broader set of success criteria, and emphasises the importance of contextual factors in determining the relevance and outcome of the criteria. These evaluation criteria are grouped into eight categories: project efficiency, model accessibility, credibility, saliency, legitimacy, satisfaction, application, and impact. Evaluation should be part of an iterative and adaptive process that attempts to improve model-based outcomes and foster pathways to better futures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-98
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironmental Modelling and Software
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • model evaluation
  • model assessment
  • model performance


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