Scientific Method for Ecological Research

E. David Ford 
Cambridge University Press  April 2000  

Paperback  584 pp, 66 diags, 21 tables  ISBN 9780521669733      £42.00
Scientists tend to take the thought processes that drive their research for granted, often learning them indirectly by observing first their supervisors and then their colleagues. This book emphasises 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 which provides a framework for understanding methodological issues and which assists with the effective definition and planning of 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.


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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