Two different approaches to parameter estimation (PE) in the context of polymerization are introduced, refined, combined, and applied. The first is classical PE where one is interested in finding parameters which minimize the distance between the output of a chemical model and experimental data. The second is Bayesian PE allowing for quantifying parameter uncertainty caused by experimental measurement error and model imperfection. Based on detailed descriptions of motivation, theoretical background, and methodological aspects for both approaches, their relation are outlined. The main aim of this article is to show how the two approaches complement each other and can be used together to generate strong information gain regarding the model and its parameters. Both approaches and their interplay in application to polymerization reaction systems are illustrated. This is the first part in a two‐article series on parameter estimation for polymer reaction kinetics with a focus on theory and methodology while in the second part a more complex example will be considered.