I'm curious as to whether the biology site is a suitable place for asking about book recommendations and other recommendations of similar variety such as websites, journals etc... I personally see the biology site as a perfectly nice place to discuss biology literature including recommendations.


1 Answer 1


In my opinion, not really. Questions asking to point you to 'recommended reading' can only be accidentally appropriate under some circumstances, but recommendations are necessarily opinion-based and would be flagged and rightfully closed as such. Readers also come in many forms; consider questions from parents, who may want to ask for recommended readings for their children. How would that be settled on biology.stackexchange? There are no scientific answers on which books or websites to read, in which order. In other words, such questions are not about any scientific matters. There may be established, trustworthy golden-standard resources or references with relevant information, and these ideally should be appended to expert answers, but should not constitute an answer in-and-of themselves. There must always be an opportunity for answers to complete the picture.

I'll illustrate with an example. For instance, you may want to find out about the biodiversity of ant life in Iceland.

Acceptable phrasing:

How many ant species inhabit Iceland?

You may incidentally get pointed to a book by an author who has atlased and reviewed literature on ant biodiversity on the island. Experts can also weigh in on each others' answers.

Not acceptable:

Can one suggest a book on ant biodiversity in Iceland?

You are simply asking for opinions out of an urge for convenience ("point me to some good reading!") and there is no way to scrutinize the outcome.

PS. Many of us here certainly understand the importance of pedagogy/learning (we bring it up often) but it's important to remain focused on the science, as opposed to all things peripheral to it. This is a Q&A site, not a discussion site, and I would recommend to urge questioners to motivate and phrase their questions accordingly!


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