All the other models  in this repository have a decision-support component and can be used as part of a 'what if?' analysis - you specify a scenario and the model tells you what the likely impact of that scenario would be.

Conceptual models are very different. They describe processes in  a general way. They help the stakeholder understand what the system has done and is doing without necessarily simulating a formal scenario or implying a policy response.

One of the strategic goals of the COMPLEX project has been to achieve a 'model / stakeholder fusion' that integrates decision-support tools with the conceptual models stakeholders have developed of some system. This is actually rather difficult to do because conceptual models can change very rapidly. Indeed, it is a prerequisite of innovation management that conceptual models must actually be encouraged to change. Rigid conceptual models are inimical to innovation, at least within the confines of the system whose structures they describe.

This conceptual model describes the co-evolutionary ecology of science-based projects and is based on a 25 year programme of participant observation and research management.

In recent years there have been growing demands for research skills tuition and guidance on the management of research projects. We have responded to this demand by teaching people to draw maps of research projects. A map of a project is not a map of science as a whole. A project is a closed programme of work with a start-date, an end-date and one or more deliverables. An undergraduate dissertation would have a staff of 2 (student and supervisor). A multi-million international project may involve 100 or so. You can use the same mapping conventions at both ends of the scale.

Our project maps were designed to be used ‘cold’ – you need not study the behavioural ecology of science to put them to work. However, some of the people we taught came back to ask for background information. That background information - a conceptual model - is described in this short book.

The Behavioural Ecology of Project-Based Science