Applying science to the current art of producing engineering and research knowledge has proven difficult, in large part because of its seeming complexity. We posit that the microscopic processes underlying research are not so complex, but instead are iterative and interacting cycles of divergent (generation of ideas) and convergent (testing and selecting of ideas) thinking processes. This reductionist framework coherently organizes a wide range of previously disparate microscopic mechanisms which inhibit these processes. We give examples of such inhibitory mechanisms and discuss how deeper scientific understanding of these mechanisms might lead to dis-inhibitory interventions for individuals, networks and institutional levels.


Aviña, Glory E., Christian D. Schunn, Austin R. Silva, Travis L. Bauer, George W. Crabtree, Curtis M. Johnson, Toluwalogo Odumosu, S. Thomas Picraux, R. Keith Sawyer, Richard P. Schneider, Rickson Sun, Gregory J. Feist, Venkatesh Narayanamurti, and Jeffrey Y. Tsao. "The Art of Research: A Divergent/Convergent Thinking Framework and Opportunities for Science-Based Approaches." Engineering a Better Future. Ed. E. Subrahmanian, Toluwalogo Odumosu, and Jeffrey Y. Tsao. Springer, 2018.