Information at the intersections of discovery: Case studies in neuroscience

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Within the field of neuroscience there is need for new information technologies to provide better access to the extensive body of knowledge related to brain research and better support for discovery processes. In scientific research, certain intersections of people, ideas, and techniques lead to advancements, and information plays an important role in this process. This paper reports on case studies that investigate how information fuels progress at three multidisciplinary neuroscience laboratories. The results presented here profile the research environments and information practices of active neuroscientists, and a working information-seeking typology is introduced. New means of quantifying and visualizing data played a role in most of the breakthroughs reported by researchers, and interpreting new experimental findings in relation to previous research is a standard problem. Participants ranked information for solving instrumentation and technique problems as highly important, and a literature mining technique for searching PubMed (Arrowsmith) proved to be of value in their daily work. The mobility of information, a topic of much interest in scientific informatics, was a central theme in the case studies, but "boundary work" and the "newness" of information were also important factors in the discovery process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)448-455
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the ASIST Annual Meeting
StatePublished - Nov 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences


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