Scientific discovery: A view from the trenches

Catherine Blake, Meredith Rendall

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


One of the primary goals in discovery science is to understand the human scientific reasoning processes. Despite sporadic success of automated discovery systems, few studies have systematically explored the socio-technical environments in which a discovery tool will ultimately be embedded. Modeling day-to-day activities of experienced scientists as they develop and verify hypotheses provides both a glimpse into the human cognitive processes surrounding discovery and a deeper understanding of the characteristics that are required for a discovery system to be successful. In this paper, we describe a study of experienced faculty in chemistry and chemical engineering as they engage in what Kuhn would call "normal" science, focusing in particular on how these scientists characterize discovery, how they arrive at their research question, and the processes they use to transform an initial idea into a subsequent publication. We discuss gaps between current definitions used in discovery science, and examples of system design improvements that would better support the information environment and activities in normal science.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDiscovery Science - 9th International Conference, DS 2006, Proceedings
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)3540464913, 9783540464914
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes
Event9th International Conference on Discovery Science, DS 2006 - Barcelona, Spain
Duration: Oct 7 2006Oct 10 2006

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume4265 LNAI
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Other9th International Conference on Discovery Science, DS 2006


  • Information behaviors
  • Knowledge discovery
  • Socio-technical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computer Science(all)


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