Searching for creativity : how people search to generate new ideas

Chavula, Catherine and Choi, Yujin and Rieh, Soo Young (2024) Searching for creativity : how people search to generate new ideas. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 75 (4). pp. 438-453. ISSN 2330-1635 (

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Creativity is one of the critical skills for people in a variety of academic, work, and everyday life contexts. Searching for information is essential to the creative process. Despite the recent increased attention in research on information searching for creative tasks, there is still little understanding of how people search for information to generate novel and useful ideas. This study aims to address three key research questions: (1) What search processes do people engage in while completing creative tasks, (2) what creative thinking strategies are employed when searching to generate ideas, and (3) what challenges do people encounter while searching for creative tasks. The data were collected at a university in the United States using multiple methods, combining pre-task interviews, search sessions that involved the generation of new ideas, and post-task interviews. Drawing from the data analysis from 31 interviews and search sessions, we present a conceptual framework for information searching for creative tasks across academic and everyday search contexts. Our findings highlight exploration as a critical search activity when searching to generate ideas. The results of this study enhance our understanding of the relationship between search activities and creative thinking strategies.