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Abstract

Attention is drawn to the values that are often kept hidden but condition what research agricultural economists do. It is pointed out that the economic theory, which guides most research, is not value free and that therefore the lack of debate about theory amongst Australian agricultural economists may be unhealthy. In a world with uncertainty, the research process is likened to learning, leading to a suggestion that Bayesian procedures provide a more satisfactory conceptual framework for the process of enquiry than does the conventional hypothesistesting approach. While difficulties in the practical applicability of Bayesian methods are understood, they do provide insights which permit some of the more inappropriate uses of hypothesis testing to be recognised. The view of research enquiry as learning also leads to an appreciation of the desirability of a more honest acceptance of the inherent subjectivity of the process. Finally, attention is drawn to the need for vigilance over professional standards in research.

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