The AIC and BIC are both methods of assessing model fit penalized for the number of estimated parameters. As I understand it, BIC penalizes models more for free parameters than does AIC. Beyond a preference based on the stringency of the criteria, are there any other reasons to prefer AIC over BIC or vice versa?
Your question implies that AIC and BIC try to answer the same question, which is not true. AIC tries to select the model that most adequately describes an unknown, high dimensional reality. This means that reality is never in the set of candidate models that are being considered. On the contrary, BIC tries to find the TRUE model among the set of candidates. I find it quite odd the assumption that reality is instantiated in one of the model that the researchers built along the way. This is a real issue for BIC.
Nevertheless, there are a lot of researchers who say BIC is better than AIC, using model recovery simulations as an argument. These simulations consist of generating data from models A and B, and then fitting both datasets with the two models. Overfitting occurs when the wrong model fits the data better than the generating. The point of these simulations is to see how well AIC and BIC correct these overfits. Usually, the results point to the fact that AIC is too liberal and still frequently prefers a more complex, wrong model over a simpler, true model. At first glance these simulations seem to be really good arguments, but the problem with them is that they are meaningless for AIC. As I said before, AIC does not consider that any of the candidate models being tested is actually true. According to AIC, all models are approximations to reality, and reality should never have a low dimensionality. At least lower than some of the candidate models.
my recommendation: use both AIC and BIC. Most of the times they will agree on the preferred model, when they dont, just report it.
If you are unhappy with both AIC and BIC, and you have free time to invest, look up for Minimum Description Length (MDL), a totally different approach that overcomes the limitations of AIC and BIC. There are several measures stemming from MDL, like normalized maximum likelihood or the Fisher Information approximation. The problem with MDL is that its mathematically demanding and/or computationally intensive.
Still, if you wanna stick to simple solutions, a nice way for assessing model flexibility (especially when the number of parameters are equal, rendering AIC and BIC useless) is doing Parametric Bootstrap, which is quite easy to implement. here is a link to a paper on it: link text
some people here advocate the use of cross-validation. I personally have used it, and dont have anything against it, but the issue with it is that the choice among the sample-cutting rule (leave-one-out, K-fold, etc) is an unprincipled one.