Advice: on the perils of "established" methods

Commenting on the previous post, Jim Bouldin notes that people often choose, or justify, their methods on the basis that those methods have been used by many others in the past.

As Jim points out, there is a problem with this:

You should choose well-justified methods, not popular ones. And you should justify your methods by justifying them. Saying that “At least I’m only making mistakes that others have made before” is not a justification.

By the way, I’m guilty of invoking past practice as a justification for my own practice, though I try to do it only as a supplement to good justifications rather than as a substitute. Occasionally referees who aren’t swayed by good arguments can be swayed by bad ones, so I sometimes use both.

7 thoughts on “Advice: on the perils of "established" methods

  1. Well, I definitely agree but it can be hard time trying to convince reviewers about the utility of new methods. Depending on the topic, science is quite conservative, I guess.

  2. Pingback: Why do our “null” models “nullify” some effects and not others? | Dynamic Ecology

  3. Pingback: Traditional statistical ideas remain relevant in the world of “Big Data” | Dynamic Ecology

  4. Pingback: Advice: a compilation of all our advice posts, and a call for new advice topics | Dynamic Ecology

  5. Pingback: On collective action and “intimidation” in science | Dynamic Ecology

  6. Pingback: When, if ever, is it ok for a paper to gloss over or ignore criticisms of the authors’ approach? | Dynamic Ecology

  7. Pingback: John Stuart Mill on the value of contrarianism | Dynamic Ecology

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.