Collaboration between modellers and experimentalists is essential in ecological research, however, different obstacles linking both camps often hinder scientific progress. In this commentary, we discuss several issues of the current state of affairs in this research loop. Backed by an online survey amongst fellow ecologists, modellers and experimentalists alike, we identify two major areas that need to be mended. Firstly, differences in language and jargon lead to a lack of exchange of ideas and to unrealistic mutual expectations. And secondly, constraint data sharing, accessibility and quality limit the usage of empirical data and thereby the impact of ecological studies. We discuss ways to advance collaboration; how to improve communication and the design of experiments; and the sharing of data. We hope to start a much-needed conversation between modellers and experimentalists, to further future research collaboration and to increase the impact of single ecological studies alike.