Interpreting, Representing and Integrating Scientific Knowledge from Interdisciplinary Projects

Mary A. Meyer, Ray C. Paton



We describe a coherent, eclectic approach to interpreting, representing, and integrating knowledge from different scientific disciplines or communities of practice. The approach, called ECLECTIC, draws from a complementary blend of ethnological methods, the hermeneutic analysis of domains, and ecology. Our description focuses on the conceptual bases of this approach, its value, and uses, particularly in handling the methodological considerations in the overlapping phases of interpretation, representation, and integration. We give examples from our use of the approach and describe how it handles difficult methodological issues: (1) knowing what questions to initially ask of members of science communities, (2) identifying their states of knowledge, (3) determining the analyst’s role, (4) determining how the knowledge may be self elicited by the members themselves, (5) verifying that the interpretation and representation of the knowledge is meaningful to the members, and (6) integrating differing representations from the communities.


scientific knowledge; electic approach; ethnology; ecological hermeneutics; interpretation; representation; integration

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