Highlighting recent contributions about modelling

Modelling is an important tool for research integration and implementation. It involves specialised expertise, which is beyond the scope of i2Insights. Instead, i2Insights focuses on more general aspects of modelling, especially those that can help modellers and non-modellers work together or that are useful for non-modellers in interpreting models. Three i2Insights contributions are highlighted.

First is Andrea Saltelli’s “Five lessons to improve how models serve society” which are:

  1. Mind the assumptions, by considering the accuracy and credibility of model outputs
  2. Mind the hubris, by looking for optimum trade-offs between complexity and error
  3. Mind the framing, where transparency supports communication and enhances trust
  4. Mind the consequences, by ensuring that quantification does not project a false sense of certainty
  5. Mind the unknowns, but avoiding excess precision which can limit policy options and open the door to unintended consequences.

Models are also improved when they include a wide range of perspectives, which is the aim of participatory modelling and facilitated modelling. It is not yet clear if these are different names for the same practice or different practices, and i2Insights aims to promote discussion on this issue. Sondoss Elsawah, Elena Bakhanova, Raimo Hämäläinen and Alexey Voinov explore five core competency areas for participatory modeling. As well as core competencies in systems thinking and modelling, expertise is also required in group facilitation; project management and leadership; and operating in the virtual space.

Vincent de Gooyert takes a more fine-grained approach to improving facilitated modelling, especially achieving cognitive change and forming consensus. He considers lessons from what can go wrong in facilitated modelling, as well as hypotheses to be tested, such as whether workshops should avoid having dual aims of team building and analytical consideration of the issue of concern, especially as in team building there is a tendency to avoid uncomfortable discussions which stops sensitive issues from being raised.

Posted: May 2023
Last modified: May 2023