I'm hoping that this hasn't already been answered, but I was wanting to ask a question asking for help finding books on a particular topic. In particular, I was looking for help locating introductory books on Behavioral Operations Research. (So far, I've only been able to find one quality book on the topic).

What are the rules about asking this kind of question? I know that some other Stack Exchange sites (e.g. Stack Overflow) have flat-out banned recommendation requests like this, but I did notice that there is a tag, which would suggest that it's sometimes acceptable here.

There has been some discussion about this on other sites, too, such as on Literature SE, but I didn't see an official policy for this particular site.

Also, the question is about behavioral operations research, so I was a little confused about where to post this question. Is it acceptable to post that here (since it's a question on behavioral operations research), or would it be more appropriate to post it on Economics SE? Which site would I be more likely to get good answers about the topic on?


2 Answers 2


In response to Steven Jeuris' comment, there have been quite some questions asking for suggestions, one better received than others:

I believe these questions can be of value and I would consider them on-topic. I believe that, if the question follows the guidelines I argued for here (and they are not too broad or unclear), the recommendation question should be perceived as on-topic.

There are, however, also questions that have been closed, such as Good Resources for Learning Modeling of fMRI Data . There is thus not an overall consensus on this matter, yet.

  • With regards to Good Resources for Learning Modeling of fMRI Data, as I said in the comments, "This question is still primarily opinion-based. The problem is that someone can recommend a book or 2 which in their opinion would help, but others may have the opinion that a couple of other books would be better". The OP has the opportunity to edit the question which could lead to the question being re-opened. Jun 15, 2017 at 10:25

On the other hand, I think that these are questions that can easily sit in limbo. Questions like this one (which ends in "does anything like this exist") can either:

  1. Be answered quickly and authoritatively with citations, etc. These answers meet all community guidelines. Or...
  2. Sit forever. The answer "no" to such questions takes an extreme familiarity with the literature of the field to be confident enough to give an authoritative "no, nowhere does this exist." Additionally, answers of "no" may not necessarily have citations and may not be long. It would simply be "Nope, doesn't exist!" (more a comment than an answer). Personally, I am very hesitant to give such an answer even in fields I am familiar with, as another community member may know an article/survey/text that addresses this (that I am unfamiliar with). This can result in questions that simply sit unanswered...

This isn't a matter of being over/under specified (to broad/narrow), or being on/off topic, or being of limited use. It's just that when the answer is "no" to such questions, there may not be an acceptable SE answer to give (and everyone may wait for someone "more knowledgeable" to try to give it).

Because of this, I very much like the suggestions @Steven mentioned and linked: looking for a specific article (from a specific source) has a much better chance of being answered appropriately (a negation can reference the source), and IMHO should be the only type of reference requests.

  • This may be a more hidden version of the same: "I heard once that this may be the case... Does anyone know?" kinds of posts...
    – mflo-ByeSE
    Jun 9, 2017 at 5:56

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