Creativity and scientific thinking

During the holidays, I spent some time reading about creativity and the basic principles of scientific research.

We (researchers) are supposed to come up with innovative ideas, but no one ever told us how to do that exactly. Great ideas are often said to be discovered by accident. People assume creativity is a talent, something you’re good at or bad at. However, according to Edward De Bono, creativity is a process we can steer. He came up with the concept of lateral thinking, which consists of a set of techniques to deliberately shift away from our traditional thinking patterns. I am currently reading his book De Bono’s Thinking Course. Although I am still a bit sceptic, let’s see where it leads me :-)

The second topic I had a brief look at is how to do research. I came across a book called On Being A Scientist, which is great to remind you of your responsibility as a researcher. It also discusses a few case studies of dubious scientific methodsRichard Feynman (Nobel Prize in Physics) has another interesting take on misconduct in science, or as he calls it Cargo Cult Science.

A few motivational articles I had a look at are You and Your Research by Richard Hamming and Technology and Courage by Ivan Sutherland. For more specific advice, I always enjoy Simon Peyton Jones’ slides. Finally, I had a quick browse through a list of books every computer researcher should have read by Philip Dutré.

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