The visual diagram above was made after one week of intense, thorough and extensive literature review within the realm of technology adoption, innovation, emerging technologies and of course, Artificial Intelligence. In one week, I downloaded over one hundred articles, some were peripheral, and the majority was orbiting around the topic I wanted to learn more about: empirical evidence or theories on the adoption of AI.
Inspired by the research onion proposed by Saunders & Lewis (2018, Ch. 5), I also worked my way from outside to inside. I was compartmentalizing the insights I found and guided my thinking (or was my thinking guiding me?) into systematically ordering & categorizing all the information. This exercise had proven extremely useful, because afterwards I felt an instant relieve – I was able to converge my thinking into a direction.
It is only now (2 weeks later), I realised that this Cognitive Onion has some kinship with the well-known Double Diamond Framework established by Design Council. The Double Diamond framework is a design innovation framework guided by four (non-linear) stages: Discover, define, develop & deliver. It’s a great tool to comprehend and substantiate the complexity of creativity and to usher the process of discovery & prototyping.
However, I did always wonder; how does one APPROACH this stage of discovery & defining? I believe with this Cognitive Onion I have blended both useful concepts from Saunders & Lewis (2018) and Design Council’s Double Diamond.
I used the Cognitive Onion to help my thinking to compartmentalize, order & categorize my findings: from pheriperal to a focused direction.
Cognitive Onion, explained, with my own process in my research of A.I.:
The outer ring represents the initial discovery stage. Here you don’t know what you don’t know, so this is a phase of discovering useful and useless information. In my case, I knew on a basic level wat A.I. was, but wasn’t aware of the latest literature or discoveries. So my initial search on Google Scholar delivered me a pile of data (pun!), of which a majority was from computer scientists, diving deep into the technicalities of A.I. Since my research is about the human & societal context of A.I., I had to add additional keywords to narrow it down. So I added: ‘diffusion, adoption’ to the search.
The second ring: in this stage, you’ll have a vague idea that you have grasped some main concepts & themes within your research realm, but it’s not tangible yet. In my case; I discovered that I still knew nothing, so I had to understand the concepts of adoption and diffusion better. So these were my first boundaries.
Third ring: In this stage, you have a slight concept of what you know, but need more information to substantiate what you know. I also call this the redefining boundaries stage. Here is expansion again, to find more information/knowledge to confirm and solidify your key findings. In my case, I finally found some literature on A.I. adoption, but these were from low tier journals, however still useful to inform that this subject is very topical.
Fourth ring: there is finally substance in your thinking! In this stage knowledge & findings are more stabilized and substantiated in your thinking, and you are able to distinguish solid & established findings from weaker findings. You use strong & solid findings to guide you to the next stage. Here I finally found some solid literature from established top tier journals, and from there I browsed through the references and found even more (!!) articles, but at this point, after 90 articles I decided to draw some boundaries.
Fifth ring: This is the convergence stage where your thinking is even more solidified into a certain direction/focus. In this solidifying stage, I recollected all the articles from all the stages by writing them down in the Cognitive Onion model. It substantiated the processing of all the information and served as a mental process to ‘clean up’ less useful information as well.
Next steps: from here; the expansion happens again, to enforce, amplify your focus.
Should you find it useful, you can download an empty template here.
A possible next step for me would be to work out the next phase of the Cognitive Onion.Tags: cognition, creativity