B. L. Wong, “How Analysts Think (?): Early Observations,” in IEEE Joint Intelligence and Security Informatics Conf. (JISIC), 24-26 Sept 2014 The Hague, The Netherlands, pp. 296–299.
Abstract—In this paper we describe work-in-progress to develop a description of the ways by which intelligence analysts engage in the thinking and reasoning processes when engaged in the intelligence analysis task. Such a model will be used to design the interactive visual interfaces for a next generation intelligence analysis system. Our concepts for the Thinking Terrain evolved over a number of studies with different groups of both intelligence analysts and non-analysts performing similar tasks. The descriptive model proposes that analysts engage in a creative and tentative process as they make abductive inferences when they need to make sense of a collection of data. They use stories to explain the conceptual linkages between the data and create further stories where data might not be available or uncertain, sometimes they make informed “guesses” to construct plausible explanations. The emphasis of their initial efforts is to gain traction in order to refine and mature their initial explanations. As their understanding of the data and situation deepens, they engage in deductive and inductive inference making in order to test their initial explanations. Analysts cycle between periods of thinking and reasoning resulting in highly creative, playful, uncertain and tentative explanations; and periods of highly critical, deliberate, and formal analysis to test the explanations and eventually committing to a solution.
Keywords – thinking and reasoning; intelligence analysis; analytic reasoning; abductive inference