Students especially should read this post over at Worthwhile Canadian Initiative on inductive vs. deductive approaches to research. It touches on a range of issues, like whether we should seek simplicity or embrace complexity in our models, whether simple models are actually more useful as a guide to action than complex ones, why theoreticians and empiricists often fail to appreciate one another, why it’s so difficult to bridge these various divides, and more. It’s about economics, but it’s not technical, and it’s very relevant to ecology as well. A really nice example of a researcher thinking hard about the rationale for, and the drawbacks of, her (and her field’s) entire approach.
Posted by: Jeremy Fox | September 2, 2011