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The hierarchy-of-hypotheses approach: A synthesis method for enhancing theory development in ecology and evolution

AuthorsHeger, T.; Aguilar, Carlos; Bartram, Isabelle; Braga, Raul Rennó; Dietl, Gregory P.; Enders, M.; Gibson, David J.; Gómez Aparicio, Lorena CSIC ORCID ; Gras, Pierre; Jax, Kurt; Lokatis, Sophie; Lortie, C. J.; Mupepele, Anne-Christine; Schindler, Stefan; Starrfelt, Jostein; Synodinos, Alexis; Jeschke, Jonathan M.; Jeschke, Jonathan M.
KeywordsHierarchy-of-hypotheses approach
Knowledge synthesis
Linking evidence to theory
Structuring ideas
Theory development
Issue DateApr-2021
PublisherOxford University Press
CitationBioscience 71(4) 337-349 (2021)
AbstractIn the current era of Big Data, existing synthesis tools such as formal meta-analyses are critical means to handle the deluge of information. However, there is a need for complementary tools that help to (a) organize evidence, (b) organize theory, and (c) closely connect evidence to theory. We present the hierarchy-of-hypotheses (HoH) approach to address these issues. In an HoH, hypotheses are conceptually and visually structured in a hierarchically nested way where the lower branches can be directly connected to empirical results. Used for organizing evidence, this tool allows researchers to conceptually connect empirical results derived through diverse approaches and to reveal under which circumstances hypotheses are applicable. Used for organizing theory, it allows researchers to uncover mechanistic components of hypotheses and previously neglected conceptual connections. In the present article, we offer guidance on how to build an HoH, provide examples from population and evolutionary biology and propose terminological clarifications.
Description13 páginas.- 4 figuras.- referencias.- Supplemental material is available at BIOSCI online.
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