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Breakthrough Knowledge Synthesis in the Age of Google

School of Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1, Canada
Philosophies 2020, 5(1), 4; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies5010004
Received: 25 January 2020 / Revised: 14 February 2020 / Accepted: 28 February 2020 / Published: 4 March 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary Natural Philosophy and Philosophies - Part 2)
Epistemology is the main branch of philosophy that studies the nature of knowledge, but how is new knowledge created? In this perspective article, I introduce a novel method of knowledge discovery that synthesizes online findings from current and prior research. This web-based knowledge synthesis method is especially relevant in today’s information technology environment, where the research community has easy access to online interactive tools and an expansive selection of digitized peer-reviewed literature. Based on a grounded theory methodology, the innovative synthesis method presented here can be used to organize, analyze and combine concepts from an intermixed selection of quantitative and qualitative research, inferring an emerging theory or thesis of new knowledge. Novel relationships are formed when synthesizing causal theories—accordingly, this article reviews basic logical principles of associative relationships, mediators and causal pathways inferred in knowledge synthesis. I also provide specific examples from my own knowledge syntheses in the field of epidemiology. The application of this web-based knowledge synthesis method, and its unique potential to discover breakthrough knowledge, will be of interest to researchers in other areas, such as education, health, humanities, and the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. View Full-Text
Keywords: knowledge synthesis; epistemology; breakthrough knowledge; domain-specific knowledge; web-based search; grounded theory; Bradford Hill criteria; association; causation; mediation knowledge synthesis; epistemology; breakthrough knowledge; domain-specific knowledge; web-based search; grounded theory; Bradford Hill criteria; association; causation; mediation
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Brown, R.B. Breakthrough Knowledge Synthesis in the Age of Google. Philosophies 2020, 5, 4.

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