Open and Sustainable Innovation Systems (OASIS) Lab working notes

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Q: What is synthesis?


So the new thing should have properties that the mere sum of the parts doesn't. But what properties? We think the core idea is that Z: Clearer cases of synthesis involve substantial conceptual innovation

Consider the difference between these two "summaries" of a set of papers:



No synthesis


Related work for systems paper

There are a few ways to solve problem X. One is <method1> [1,2]. People have also tried <method2> [3,4,5]. Finally, others have tried <method3> [6,7,8]. In this paper, we introduce <method4>.
The earliest attempts to solve problem X took the angle of <method1> [1,2]. But it has limitations ABC. For example, [1] showed that... To address limitations ABC, others have explored the possibility of <method2> [3,4,5], which makes key modifications XYZ to <method1>. This yields some gains under settings DD, but doesn't work in settings EE. The overarching open problem seems to be the tradeoff between XXX (common in settings EE) and the side effect BB of <method2>. To address this open problem, researchers are exploring <method3> [6,7,8]. <method3> has shown some promise, yielding X% gains in settings EE; but a remaining open problem is YY. In this paper, we build on these efforts by addressing this key limitation.

Darwin's theory of evolution

Species vary: some variations are bad, and some help with survival. Species struggle to survive. Some, but not all, organisms pass on new offspring.

Species struggle to survive. Species also vary, and some variations are good and some are bad for survival. Therefore, one precondition for species to survive and pass on offspring is by having or inheriting beneficial variations. This variation and selection process explains how we get the diversity of species we see today.

Relation to other constructs (outputs)


Thinking of abduction




Abstraction / compression (could become circular though: ❗beware)

Also ❗beware : What is the value of defining an umbrella term?


In this vein, systematic reviews can be construed as a narrow subset of synthesis (and literature reviewing)

It's also that these systematic reviews and meta-analyses are often laser-focused on just one edge in a causal model!

Granted, good reviews (especially meta-analysis) might try to estimate some of the variability, but they're rarely focused on explicating a causal model or larger whole.

Especially in medicine (e.g., Cochrane systematic reviews), the goal is more about getting a really good handle on what the evidence can say about a very narrowly defined question.

Thought-Fragment Additionally, the IVEO Matrix isn't quite where we want it to be yet: it's more of a meta-analysis or systematic review, rather than a coherent new whole. There is no causal model or graph that ties it all together to support sophisticated reasoning and decision-making

Q: What is synthesis?