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The process of handling an excess of complex and interdisciplinary information in a decision support research situation

Researchers are sometimes expected to investigate a complex and interdisciplinary subject-matter in order to provide scientific support for large-scale decisions. This may prove challenging: typically, a lack of cohesion between the pieces of information investigated in the starting phase may cause confusion. This article suggests one possible road from this problem, which may lead to holistic understanding and next to communication and implementation of this understanding. The process is presented as a diagram, and selected aspects of it are analysed. The process involves moving to a higher level of generalisation in order to gain a better overview and potentially invent new concepts, and next moving back to a more detailed level in order to communicate and implement these insights. Potential challenges and roadblocks are identified. The possible conflict between normal science and decision support is briefly investigated; it is pointed out that “post-normal science” may be a more appropriate description of such processes than simply “science”.

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