Scientific Method for Ecological Research / Edition 1

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Scientists tend to take the thought processes that drive their research for granted, often learning them indirectly by observing their supervisors and colleagues. This book emphasizes the advantages of being explicit about these thought processes and aims to help those undertaking ecological research to develop a critical attitude to approaching a scientific problem and constructing a procedure for assessment. The outcome is a text that provides a framework for understanding methodological issues and which assists with the effective definition and planning of ecological research. As such, it represents a unique resource for anyone embarking on their research career. It also provides a valuable source of information for those more experienced researchers who are seeking to strengthen the methodology underlying their studies or who have an interest in the analysis of research methods in ecology.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Sixteen chapters, interspersed with extremely useful, detailed examples of thesis research, describe clearly and comprehensively the intellectual, practical, and societal milieu in which ecological research is conducted." Choice

A strikingly original treatise encompassing nearly the entire scope of the creative scientific process...This broad and erudite text will benefit anyone involved in ecological research faced with the problem of devising testable and meaningful research questions...this is not a book that should be kept on the shelf; rather it should be owned, read thoroughly, discussed, and consulted frequently by every graduate student and ecological researcher...should be required reading by anyone planning an ecological research project, or planning to advise one." Ecology

"If I could slip one book through a time warp, back to the 1970s when I was first trying to 'do' science, this would be the one...Curious minds will find no better use for $50...This book is simply a clear and readable exposition on the nature of science and research and how one can join the wonderful search for knowledge." Forest Science

A textbook for graduate students in ecology just embarking on their first research projects. Ford (forest resources, U. of Washington) found that many such students had considerable trouble writing research plans, and so provides them a methodological foundation. He distinguishes between methods of reasoning<-->such as how to use logic, construct a hypothesis, and develop a theory<-->from techniques of investigation<-->such as an experiment or a survey, or constructing a simulation model. Then he focuses on the former in the context of ecological research, explaining how to make scientific inference in ecology, admittedly a field without a strong theoretical base. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521669733
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 4/13/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 588
  • Product dimensions: 7.44 (w) x 9.69 (h) x 1.18 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface; Acknowledgements; 1. Component processes of ecological research; Part I. Developing an Analytical Framework: 2. Five processes of research planning; 3. Conceptual and propositional analysis for defining research problems; 4. Development of a research plan; 5. How theories develop and how to use them; 6. The art of measurement and experiment; 7. Methods of reasoning in research; 8. Assessment of postulates; 9. Individual philosophies and their methods; Part II. Making a Synthesis for Scientific Inference: 10. Properties and domains of ecological concepts; 11. Strategies of scientific research in ecology; 12. Use of mathematical models for constructing explanations in ecology; Part III. Working in the Research Community: 14. Scientific research as a social process; 14. Values and standpoints and their influence on research; Part IV. Defining a Methodology for Ecological Research: 15. The methodology of progressive synthesis; 16. Criticisms and improvements for the scientific method in ecology; Appendix for instructors; Glossary; List of references; Author index; Subject index.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2010

    Detailed consideration of scientific method in ecology

    This book is a detailed consideration of the conceptual approach to doing ecological research. The challenge to the researcher to identify the assumptions, postulates and data statements for the research project is the distinctive contribution of this text. It teases apart the idea of what a hypothesis is by separating the mental operations of the testing process. I use this text in a graduate course on experimental design in the environmental sciences. It challenges the reader with the level of detail and examples to illustrate the process.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2001

    Good title, disappointing book

    Though the scope and motivation of the book are adequate, the text structure used by the author is confusing and seldom enlightening. The text is too wordy and convoluted due to the many definitions and excessively itemized sections the author uses to express his ideas. Overall, this book may be useful as occasional reference for specific areas, but certainly not so as major reference in the area it was intended for (Ecological Research) nor as a course primary text.

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