Overview

About the Project. The CREA Project is a large-scale international research program that aims to understand the environmental and institutional factors and mechanisms which can stimulate and support scientists to accomplish highly-creative breakthrough research. There is a body of work on scientific creativity – which is defined as “novel work with major implications or potential accomplished by individual researchers and groups” – but most of it is focused on the characteristics of the individual researcher (micro level) or indicators of national activity (macro level). In contrast, our research focuses on “meso” level attributes such as career mobility, sequence of career choices, properties of organizations, and patterns of research funding awards. These factors are ones that research sponsors, institutions, and research groups can and do influence. Indeed, there is a growing policy and research management interest about how best to foster creative and transformational scientific research.

Methodology. The current project builds on an earlier study (CREA-1) that examined the production and emergence of highly creative scientific research in the US and Europe (more information on CREA-1 can be found under the pages on people and partners and on publications on this web site). The CREA-1 study focused on scientific creativity in two comparative fields: human genetics, which is an established biomedical field supported by a relatively stable set of disciplines, and nanotechnology, which is a newer an emerging multidisciplinary field. Nearly 690 creative scientists in these two fields in the US and Europe were identified. Of these, seventy-six scientific creative researchers were identified as being involved in highly creative scientific events in human genetics and nanotechnology based on nomination and prize awards. Our new CREA-2 study develops a database of individual and meso-level factors taken from a researcher’s curriculum vita (CV). We will now compare our panel of creative scientists with a large panel of several hundred researchers in our two focal fields in the US and Europe matched by similar early career attributes. Members of this panel are asked to provide their full CV which includes information about education, positions held, publications, research award, other awards (such as prizes and fellowships), supervisions, association memberships, and professional and other contributions. The CVs will be coded and results will be modeled using techniques to understand environmental factors leading up to the highly creative event. (For more details about the CV request, select here.)

Anticipated Results. The findings from the CREA-2 study are anticipated to be used to advance measurement and policy development for the support of highly creative research. Several of the factors examined in this study – award mechanisms, funding programs, organizational set-up of research sites, and facilitation of career-relevant mechanisms, are of interest to university and faculty management, industrial R&D management, funding organizations, and national research policy. An anonymized dataset containing variables related to creative researcher nominees, creative researcher and comparison group CVs, and awards and prizes will be made available for use by others.

Project Sponsor. The research is funded by a grant from the US National Science Foundation (NSF Award No. 0738126). Final results are expected early in 2010, with periodic interim findings planned for publication.

Disclaimer. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations made by the project or expressed on The CREA Project web site are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation

Research Team. The project is directed by Professor Philip Shapira of the School of Public Policy at Georgia Institute of Technology and Manchester Institute of Innovation Research at the Manchester Business School in Manchester UK, in conjunction with Dr. Jan Youtie at the Enterprise Innovation Institute at Georgia Institute of Technology, Professor Juan Rogers at the School of Public Policy at Georgia Institute of Technology, and Professor Thomas Heinze at the Department of Sociology at University of Bamberg Germany. Reynold Galope serves as the primary project research assistant. Prof. Stefan Kuhlmann of the University of Twente, The Netherlands, is a project associate. (For more information, see CREA People and Partners.)

For More Information. Contact Jan Youtie at 404-894-6111 or ude.hcetag.etavonninull@eituoy.naj.