Weak information work in scientific discovery

Carole L. Palmer, Melissa H. Cragin, Timothy P. Hogan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Scientists continually work with information to move their research projects forward, but the activities involved in finding and using information and their impact on discovery are poorly understood. In the Information and Discovery in Neuroscience (IDN) project we investigated the information work involved as researchers make progress and confront problems in the practice of brain research. Through case studies of recent neuroscience projects, we found that the most difficult and time-consuming information activities had parallels with Simon's explication of weak methods in scientific problem solving. But, while Simon's weak/strong distinction is an effective device for interpreting information work, his general conception of how discovery takes place is artificially constrained. We present cross-case and case-based results from the IDN project to illustrate how the conditions of problem solving Simon associated with weak methods relate to information work and to identify additional weak aspects of the research process not considered by Simon. Our analysis both extends Simon's framework of what constitutes the discovery process and further elaborates how weak approaches influence the conduct of research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)808-820
Number of pages13
JournalInformation Processing and Management
Volume43
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2007
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

neurosciences
Brain
research process
research project
Neuroscience
Problem solving

Keywords

  • Information practices
  • Information seeking
  • Neuroscience
  • Research processes
  • Scientific discovery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Media Technology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Library and Information Sciences

Cite this

Weak information work in scientific discovery. / Palmer, Carole L.; Cragin, Melissa H.; Hogan, Timothy P.

In: Information Processing and Management, Vol. 43, No. 3, 01.05.2007, p. 808-820.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Palmer, Carole L. ; Cragin, Melissa H. ; Hogan, Timothy P. / Weak information work in scientific discovery. In: Information Processing and Management. 2007 ; Vol. 43, No. 3. pp. 808-820.
@article{f3671ca1bc9541d9bec940d892c51122,
title = "Weak information work in scientific discovery",
abstract = "Scientists continually work with information to move their research projects forward, but the activities involved in finding and using information and their impact on discovery are poorly understood. In the Information and Discovery in Neuroscience (IDN) project we investigated the information work involved as researchers make progress and confront problems in the practice of brain research. Through case studies of recent neuroscience projects, we found that the most difficult and time-consuming information activities had parallels with Simon's explication of weak methods in scientific problem solving. But, while Simon's weak/strong distinction is an effective device for interpreting information work, his general conception of how discovery takes place is artificially constrained. We present cross-case and case-based results from the IDN project to illustrate how the conditions of problem solving Simon associated with weak methods relate to information work and to identify additional weak aspects of the research process not considered by Simon. Our analysis both extends Simon's framework of what constitutes the discovery process and further elaborates how weak approaches influence the conduct of research.",
keywords = "Information practices, Information seeking, Neuroscience, Research processes, Scientific discovery",
author = "Palmer, {Carole L.} and Cragin, {Melissa H.} and Hogan, {Timothy P.}",
year = "2007",
month = "5",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1016/j.ipm.2006.06.003",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "43",
pages = "808--820",
journal = "Information Processing and Management",
issn = "0306-4573",
publisher = "Elsevier Limited",
number = "3",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Weak information work in scientific discovery

AU - Palmer, Carole L.

AU - Cragin, Melissa H.

AU - Hogan, Timothy P.

PY - 2007/5/1

Y1 - 2007/5/1

N2 - Scientists continually work with information to move their research projects forward, but the activities involved in finding and using information and their impact on discovery are poorly understood. In the Information and Discovery in Neuroscience (IDN) project we investigated the information work involved as researchers make progress and confront problems in the practice of brain research. Through case studies of recent neuroscience projects, we found that the most difficult and time-consuming information activities had parallels with Simon's explication of weak methods in scientific problem solving. But, while Simon's weak/strong distinction is an effective device for interpreting information work, his general conception of how discovery takes place is artificially constrained. We present cross-case and case-based results from the IDN project to illustrate how the conditions of problem solving Simon associated with weak methods relate to information work and to identify additional weak aspects of the research process not considered by Simon. Our analysis both extends Simon's framework of what constitutes the discovery process and further elaborates how weak approaches influence the conduct of research.

AB - Scientists continually work with information to move their research projects forward, but the activities involved in finding and using information and their impact on discovery are poorly understood. In the Information and Discovery in Neuroscience (IDN) project we investigated the information work involved as researchers make progress and confront problems in the practice of brain research. Through case studies of recent neuroscience projects, we found that the most difficult and time-consuming information activities had parallels with Simon's explication of weak methods in scientific problem solving. But, while Simon's weak/strong distinction is an effective device for interpreting information work, his general conception of how discovery takes place is artificially constrained. We present cross-case and case-based results from the IDN project to illustrate how the conditions of problem solving Simon associated with weak methods relate to information work and to identify additional weak aspects of the research process not considered by Simon. Our analysis both extends Simon's framework of what constitutes the discovery process and further elaborates how weak approaches influence the conduct of research.

KW - Information practices

KW - Information seeking

KW - Neuroscience

KW - Research processes

KW - Scientific discovery

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=33846455075&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=33846455075&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.ipm.2006.06.003

DO - 10.1016/j.ipm.2006.06.003

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:33846455075

VL - 43

SP - 808

EP - 820

JO - Information Processing and Management

JF - Information Processing and Management

SN - 0306-4573

IS - 3

ER -