1. There is a widely recognized gap between the data generated by researchers and the information required by policy makers. In an effort to bridge the gap between conservation policy and science, we have convened in several countries multiple groups of policy makers, practitioners and researchers to identify priority information needs that can be met by new research in the social and natural sciences.
2. The exercises we have coordinated included identification of priority policy-relevant research questions in specific geographies (UK, USA, Canada); questions relating to global conservation; questions relating to global agriculture; policy opportunities in the United Kingdom; and emerging global conservation issues or ‘horizon scanning’.
3. We outline the exercises and describe our methods, which are based on principles of inclusivity, openness and democracy. Methods to maximize inclusiveness and rigour in such exercises include solicitation of questions and priorities from an extensive community, online collation of material, repeated voting and engagement with policy networks to foster uptake and application of the results.
4. These methods are transferable to a wide range of policy or research areas within and beyond the conservation sciences.