Research : summing up



Research  (^)



Research  (^)


Research is the process of searching.

In Problemistics the search is addressed to the discovery of a Problem.

Research is the art and craft of Problem Finding.


The specific function (purpose) of Research is to localize the source and clarify the nature of the Problem, that is Problem Finding.

The general function (purpose) is to aim at Wisdom as the highest level of Knowledge.


For analytical reasons the process of Research is seen as comprising three intermingled phases:

  • Experiencing (problem feeling)

  • Exploring (problem focusing)

  • Explaining (problem ferreting)

The core of each phase and the aim of the entire process is the identification and elucidation of the Problem.



Problem  (^)


A Problem is defined as the product of:

- emotive discontent: dissatisfaction (conscious or unconscious) about a specific (defined or undefined) aspect of reality

- cognitive doubt: ignorance about the origin/cause of the dissatisfaction or about which course of action will overcome it

- actuative difficulty: blockage about the action to be undertaken and the methods/techniques/tools suitable for dealing with a specific situation


Problems can be classified according to:

  • Ambit: individual (person) - collective (group)

  • Type: ill definable (satisficing solution : heuristics) - well definable (optimizing solution : algorithmics)


The way a Problem is defined and classified addresses and specifies its possible Solution.

Problem Dealer  (^)


The aspects of discontent/doubt/difficulty that originate from a Problem must be met by personal qualities on the part of the subject (the Problem Dealer) for the process of Problem Dealing to start and take place.

These personal requisites are:

  • emergence of thrill (from emotive discontent)

  • development of skill (from cognitive doubt)

  • expression of will (from actuative difficulty)



Problem Finding  (^)


Problem Finding is the process of searching for the identification and elucidation of a Problem.


Having defined a Problem as a felt dissatisfaction to be dealt with, the function (aim) of Problem Finding is to attempt to identify/elucidate:

- the source of the felt dissatisfaction

- the nature of the felt dissatisfaction

For a dissatisfaction to take place something must be experienced.

The starting point for Problem Finding is thus Experiencing.



Experiencing  (^)



Experiencing  (^)


Experiencing is an emotive/cognitive/volitive apprehension/comprehension of and intervention in reality.

It is the product of certain human faculties, namely:

  • Sensation : the detection of sensory impressions

  • Perception : the interpretation of what has been sensed

  • Conception : the representation of what has been perceived



Sensation  (^)


Sensation is the detection of sensory impressions through sensory modalities (Senses).


The function of Sensation is to access the external reality providing Data for Problem Dealing.


Sensations, on the basis of modalities of sensory impressions (Senses), can be classified as:



Visual sight : eyes
Auditory hearing : ears
Olfactory smell : nose
Tactile touch : skin -  taste : tongue
Thermal cold, warmth : surface of the body
Kinaesthetic position and motion : muscles and joints

The interpretation of Data arising from sensory impressions leads to Perception.



Perception  (^)


Perception is the interpretation of Data resulting from Sensation (sensory impressions) and leading to the production of Facts.

Perception builds Facts out of interpreted Data.

Analysis of Definition

- Interpretation = attribution of meaning to sensory impressions

- Data = products of sensory impressions

- Facts = selected, verifiable, meaningful data born of experience

The representation of Facts arising from Perception leads to Conception.



Conception  (^)


Conception is the representation, by way of Concepts, of Data that have been interpreted through Perception (i.e. Facts).

Conception builds Concepts out of Facts.


Data, Facts, Concepts are Nodes (Modules of situations) in every process of Problem Dealing.



Experiencing : overview  (^)

Experiencing is the coming into play of:

  • Sensation (detection of reality)

  • Perception (interpretation of reality)

  • Conception (representation of reality)

Experiencing, adequately and appropriately, requires that some capabilities be expressed by the Problem Dealer, namely:

  • Sensoriality : receptiveness for sensation

  • Sensitivity : responsiveness for perception

  • Sensibility : reasonableness for conception

An adequate and appropriate Experiencing prepares the ground for Exploring.



Exploring  (^)



Exploring  (^)


Exploring is an active questioning/examining/reflecting upon reality in order to throw light on the source/nature of a felt dissatisfaction.

In actual terms, exploring manifests itself as a search for Information that could/should lead to the identification and elucidation of the Problem.



Information  (^)


Information is any Message aiming at and resulting in Communication.

Analysis of Definition

Information = encoded message

Communication = decoded message

Message  (^)


A Message is a set of Data - Facts - Concepts encoded as Signs Signals Symbols and transmitted to a possible receiver.


Messages can be classified according to the following categories:



Content what it says
Form in which format/way
Function to what purpose


A Message, in order to qualify as Communication, has to be:

- Meaningful = understandable

- Reliable = factually congruent

- Useful = operatively relevant

Signs Signals Symbols  (^)


Signs Signals Symbols are sensed, perceived or conceived indicators whose function is to encode and convey Messages about Data - Facts - Concepts.

Analysis of Definition

  • Signs : indicators of potential meaning (e.g. symptom, trace, clue)

    main dimension : cognitive

  • Signals : indicators of intentional meaning (e.g. directional arrow)

    main dimension : volitive

  • Symbols : indicators of conventional meaning (e.g. cross)

    main dimension : emotive

Signs Signals Symbols are the basic materials for Information Dealing.



Information Dealing (^)



Information Dealing  (^)


Information Dealing is concerned with Signs Signals Symbols and the activities related to their

  • Searching (scanning, screening)

  • Collecting (selecting, recording)

  • Processing (arranging, condensing)


The what and how of Information Searching/Collecting/Processing are essential aspects in finding the Problem and in the entire process of Problem Dealing.

Exploring as Information Dealing (searching, collecting, processing Signs Signals Symbols as Information) takes place through the following activities:

  • Documentation

  • Observation

  • Experimentation



Documentation  (^)


Documentation is the acquisition-elicitation of Data that are needed for the finding/focusing of the Problem and for the general process of Problem Dealing.

Analysis of Definition

- Acquisition = to take in (e.g. seeing)

- Elicitation = to draw out (e.g. interviewing)


For a further exploration of the topic see Toolbook : Documentation.



Observation  (^)


Observation is an active/selective process of paying attention to and taking notice of Facts relevant to the elucidation of the Problem and to the general process of Problem Dealing.

Analysis of Definition

- Paying attention = looking at

- Taking notice = zooming in


What we pay attention to and take notice of, is addressed and shaped by our frame of reference (Framework).


Observations can by classified according to:

  • Observer (subject)

    Visible/Intrusive/Participant vs. Concealed/Unintrusive/Nonparticipant

  • Observed (object)

    Controlled (e.g. laboratory) vs. Uncontrolled (e.g. field)

  • Observing (mode)

    Structured (e.g. systematic recording) vs. Unstructured (e.g. informal survey)


Limitations and distortions in Observation derive generally from:

- inadequacy of sense organs and human faculties (e.g. memory)

- interference of observer on observed (unintended and undetected)

- indistinctness between observation and inferences (e.g. concealed viewpoint)


In order to reduce pitfalls and uncover fruitful Data, observations need to be reliable.

Reliability is strengthened when Data result from:

- several observers

- several (repeated) observations

- use of appropriate observation tools and techniques

Tools  - Techniques

Tools and techniques can, to a certain extent, overcome limitations and distortions of Observation.

Their use is aimed at extending/deepening the senses and faculties of the human being in order to:

- perceive with greater clarity

- measure with greater accuracy

- record with greater fidelity


For a further exploration of the topic see Toolbook : Observation.


The function of Observation is uncovering/highlighting Facts leading to further exploration (Experimentation) and exhaustive elucidation (Explaining) of the Problem.



Experimentation (^)



Experimentation  (^)


Experimentation is the process of carrying out an Experiment.

Experimentation deals with variables, conjectures and acts in relation to a Problem.

Analysis of Definition

- Variable = situation of a component of the problem

- Conjecture = guess with regard to useful operation on or combination of variables

- Act = operation on and combination of variables (e.g. mix, move, etc.)

Experiment  (^)


An Experiment is a structured Observation of variables in a situation.

In an Experiment, variables are subject to operations and combinations in order to test Conjecture(s).


Experiments involve the following steps:

- presentation of variables (situation)

- conjectures about useful acts on variables (e.g. theoretical combination)

- acts on variables (operation)


Experiments can be classified according to:

  • Settings

    - laboratory experiment (high control on variables)

    - field experiment (low control on variables)

  • Process

    - from start/cause to end result/effect

    - from end result/effect to start/cause


The function of an Experiment is to test variables through acts (operations, combinations) in order to corroborate (give support to) or refute (partially or totally) a Conjecture.


Acts on variables require the operationalization of variables. Operationalization means to identify variables as specific Data and Facts suitable for recordable/repeatable acts (operations and combinations) to be performed on them (e.g. defining, locating, measuring, etc.).


For a further exploration of the topic see Toolbook : Experimentation.

Conjecture  (^)


A conjecture is a possible/plausible answer as to the nature/source of a Problem, based on Experiencing  (sensation, perception, conception) and leading towards Explaining.


The function of Conjecture is that of preliminary exploratory guesses to direct/address the investigation of a Problem.



Exploring : overview  (^)

Exploring is the process of dealing with Information and consists of:

  • Documentation

  • Observation

  • Experimentation

A fruitful exploration (Information Dealing) results in the emergence of Knowledge.

The emergence of Knowledge is the requirement for Knowledge Engineering and this leads to the final stage of Problem Finding that is Explaining.



Explaining  (^)



Explaining  (^)


Explaining is to perform an act of Communication that results in:

  • expressing/formulating a Statement

  • exposing/presenting an Argument

  • expounding/propounding a Belief

What is communicated through Explaining is structured Information, that is Knowledge.



Communication  (^)


Communication is the encoding of a Message by a sender and its appropriate/successful decoding by a receiver.


Communication is characterized basically by:

- the sender (who is transmitting the message)
- the receiver (who is accepting the message)
- the content (what message is transmitted)
- the context (when/where is the message transmitted)
- the aim to what purpose is the message transmitted)
- the medium (how is the message transmitted)
- the channel (by which means is the message transmitted)


Communication presents various dimensions that account for a changeable mix of the following functions:



Emotive impressive/evocative
Cognitive informative/argumentative
Volitive imperative/advocative

The general function of Communication in Problem Dealing is to reduce/remove uncertainty and increase/deepen Knowledge as to the finding/solving/acting with regard to a Problem.



Knowledge  (^)


Knowledge is organized-structured Information characterized by

Truth (true statements), Validity  (valid arguments) and Relevancy (relevant beliefs).

Analysis of Definition

- Truth = soundness of a statement (e.g. based on verifiable evidence)

- Validity = soundness of an argument (e.g. conclusions logically following from premisses)

- Relevancy = soundness of a belief (e.g.  pertinent to the matter)


Knowledge can be classified as:



Declarative to know what
Procedural to know how
General referring/applicable to many different matters
Specific referring/applicable to some specific matter


The growth and development of Knowledge requires its organization which is performed through Knowledge Engineering.



Knowledge Engineering (^)



Knowledge Engineering  (^)


Knowledge Engineering is building up and putting forward an integrated set of Knowledge elements, i.e.

- true Statements

- valid Arguments

- relevant Beliefs

capable of explaining the nature/source of the Problem.


Knowledge Engineering that does not rely on true statements, valid arguments and relevant beliefs, is corrupted by Fallacy.



Fallacy  (^)


A Fallacy is an error in Knowledge (e.g. material fallacy) or in Knowledge Engineering (e.g. logical fallacy, psychological fallacy).


A Fallacy diverts or obstructs the process of Problem Finding.

The recognition of a Fallacy permits to avoid/overcome traps on the road to the elucidation of the Problem.


Fallacies can be classified into three main categories:

  • Material Fallacies : false knowledge (lack of truth in Statements)

  • Logical Fallacies : invalid knowledge (lack of validity in Arguments)

  • Psychological Fallacies : irrelevant knowledge (lack of relevancy in Beliefs)



Statement  (^)



Statement  (^)


A Statement is a Message  asserting/expressing Data - Facts - Concepts.


Statements can be classified according to:

  • Form

    - categorical (i.e. deterministic)

    - conditional (i.e. probabilistic)

  • Content

    - empirical (i.e. matters of facts)

    - theoretical (i.e. relations of concepts)


The basic requirement of any statement is Truth.

Truth  (^)


Truth is the soundness of a Statement.


The soundness (truth) of a Statement can be:

  • Theoretical : true by definition (justified/supported by a theoretical reality)

  • Factual : true by documentation - observation (justified/supported by an empirical reality)


The formulation of a series of true related statements leads to the presentation of an Argument.



Argument  (^)



Argument  (^)


An Argument is a series of Statements that are semantically, syntactically, pragmatically related to each other.

Analysis of Definition

- Semantically = meaningfully related

- Syntactically = coherently related

- Pragmatically = fruitfully related


An Argument consists of the following components:

- premisses : the supporting statements

- conclusions : the derived statements

The premisses provide reasons to support the conclusions and the conclusions are drawn/follow from the premisses.


The central requirement of an Argument is Validity.

Validity  (^)


Validity is the soundness of an Argument.

The soundness (validity) of an Argument means that the conclusions follow/are drawn from the premisses in a logical way.


An Argument can be valid (logically related statements) without being true (e.g. false statements).

A valid Argument takes the form of :

- Induction : probabilistic trail/end  (heuristics)

- Deduction : deterministic trail/end  (algorithmics)



Induction  (^)


Induction is a way of arguing/reasoning that usually starts from specific limited premisses to reach general probabilistic conclusions.


- Premisses : are based on a limited amount of information

- Conclusions : are drawn from the incomplete information contained in the premisses

  - if the premisses are true, the conclusions are likely  to be true

  - if the process of arguing/reasoning is valid, the conclusions reached add new information to that contained in the premisses


Inductions can take the form of:

- Analogy : extending factors (elements) and features (aspects) in an entity to another entity considered similar in its essential traits (e.g. assuming entity A to be/behave like similar entity B)

- Generalization : extending factors (elements) and features (aspects) from a sample of entities to a population of the same entities (e.g. assuming population A to be/behave like sample of population a)



Deduction  (^)


Deduction is a way of arguing/reasoning that usually starts from general firm premisses to reach specific deterministic conclusions.


- Premisses : contain complete amount of needed information

- Conclusions : derive logically from the premisses

  -  if the premisses are true, the conclusion must necessarily be true

  -  if the process of arguing/reasoning is valid, the conclusions reached do not add new information to that already contained in the premisses but make it fully explicit and applicable to specific cases.



Induction-Deduction  (^)


Induction and Deduction are intermingled modes of arguing/reasoning that assist Knowledge Engineering in a creative logical way.

Knowledge is increased and developed through Induction and Deduction and becomes organized and condensed into Beliefs.


For a further exploration of the topic see Toolbook : Explanation.



Belief  (^)



Belief  (^)


A Belief is a set of Arguments that encapsulate a conviction about reality reached through a process of Experiencing.


In Problem Finding,  Beliefs are general convictions that are meant to be appropriate and useful for elucidating the nature and source of a specific Problem.


The central requirement of a Belief is Relevancy.

Relevancy  (^)


Relevancy is the soundness of a Belief.

The soundness (relevancy) of a Belief means that the Belief is not only pertinent but also productive for the elucidation of the Problem.


A relevant Belief can take the form of:

  • Hypothesis

  • Empirical Generalization


  • Theory



Hypothesis  (^)


An Hypothesis is a suspended Belief that needs to be put to further test (Experiment) in order to become a sustained Belief.

Analysis of Definition

- Suspended belief = belief not yet fully verified or widely accepted

- Sustained belief = belief more fully verified and widely accepted


A Conjecture is a before-experiment guess (exploratory proposition)

An Hypothesis is an after-experiment thesis (explanatory proposition)


An Hypothesis should possess the following characteristics :

- plausibility : offering a possible and reasonable explanation

- testability : presented in a form that allows for testing

- compatibility : fitting in with well validated bodies of knowledge

- predictivity : able to provide indications about future state of variables

- simplicity : accounting for reality in a clear straightforward way



Empirical Generalization  (^)


An Empirical Generalization is a Belief about reality based on strong (deep), extensive (broad) and widely shared (accepted) evidence.


Empirical Generalizations are possible because of uniformities (shareability) and regularities (repeatability) in the Experiencing of reality.



Theory  (^)


A Theory is a set of general, abstract, logically interrelated Beliefs having a wide fruitful applicability.

Analysis of Definition

- Abstract = based on theoretical principles

- Fruitful = used/applied profitably in many cases


Empirical Generalizations must fit the Facts

Theories must bear upon the Facts


The marking traits of a Theory are/should be:

- Generality : explains the highest number of connected phenomena

- Parsimony : uses the smallest number of explanatory entities

- Elegance : arranges entities in the most satisfactory and pleasing way

- Fertility : leads to the most interesting and fruitful outcomes


The main functions of a Theory in Problem Finding are:

- to guide Experiencing

- to organize Exploring

- to ground Explaining


Hypotheses, Empirical Generalizations and Theories are the main components (openly stated or concealed) of any report.

For technical reference about 'report' see : Toolbook : Exposition



Explaining : overview  (^)

Explaining is a process of Communication.

What is communicated is Knowledge that has been elaborated through Knowledge Engineering.

This results in putting forward:

- Statements

- Arguments

- Beliefs

They are organized into some:

- Hypothesis

- Empirical Generalization

- Theory

which (should) lead to a comprehensive identification and elucidation of the Problem and bring to a conclusion the Research process.



Research : summing up  (^)

The various phases of Research  (Experiencing - Exploring - Explaining) should all converge towards the widening and deepening of Knowledge.

A general continuous evaluation about the soundness of the Knowledge achieved and of its fruitfulness with regard to the identification and elucidation of the Problem, should lead either to the retracing of some steps within the area of Research or to going forward to the activity of Design.


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