On the study and practice of early stage science.
Understanding how scientific research works can help scientists design more effective research programs in fields that are currently experiencing slow growth or stagnating. Our research team investigates historical and contemporary cases of revolutionary scientific discovery in early stage fields to find useful methods, tools, and case studies that can help scientists design better early stage research programs. We also conduct our own early stage research and provide resources for promising early stage research programs.
We are currently conducting an early stage research program in the field of psychology. We also run a Research Fellows program, which hosts researchers pursuing independent research agendas in early stage domains.
Early Stage Science
An investigation into scientific methodology.
Our research program investigates the hypothesis that there is a period in the early development of successful scientific fields that is characterized by methods distinct from the rest of the scientific process, and that understanding the features of this period can help scientists design effective research programs in stagnating fields. We call this part of the scientific process early stage science.
We study scientists like Alessandro Volta (electricity), Robert Koch (germ theory), and Antoine Lavoisier (oxygen combustion) who contributed to the initial discoveries that helped develop important fields to see how they created new measurement tools, designed methods of experimentation, and structured their collaborations. Our goal is to identify the distinguishing features of early stage science and to extract useful principles of effective early stage scientific research that can be shared with practicing scientists.
FEATURED RESEARCH QUESTIONS
→ Do scientific fields go through methodological phases?
→ How are new scientific instruments invented?
→ Why is research progress in some fields more reliable than in others?
→ Do scientific fields go through sociological phases?
→ What challenges do researchers working in new fields face?
→ What led to the major discoveries in the history of science?
What research methodologies allow researchers to make progress during the earliest stages of scientific development in a field? Our Program Introduction describes an exemplative set of historical cases, formulates our hypothesis, and explains our research methodology.
Case Study: Volta's Electrophorus
An analysis of the development and impact of Alessandro Volta's electrophorus. This case study aims to understand why the scientific consensus changed as a result of the electrophorus and why it was the electrophorus that advanced this consensus, rather than earlier devices.
Research Highlights: Volta's Electrophorus
A summary of the results from our case study on Alessandro Volta’s electrophorus. It includes short descriptions of some key findings from the paper along with references to either the case study itself or to external sources for more detailed discussions of the relevant topics.
Case Study: Gilbert's Electricks
An analysis of William Gilbert’s discovery of static electric attraction and identification of the category of electricks. This case study aims to understand the development of knowledge of static electric attraction prior to Gilbert and the causes and factors that enabled him to make his discovery.
New methods of understanding mental structure.
Our psychology program initially focused on making non-incremental theoretical breakthroughs in psychology. We performed 60 in depth case studies and worked with more than 400 people to develop, test, and refine our models. Throughout our research, we developed a set of methods that we hope can serve as standard tools to help psychologists understand mental structure.
Our research program is currently focused on building collaborations with researchers in psychology and cognitive science who can help us test the reliability of our research methods. For academic researchers interested in helping us verify our findings, please contact us.
Independent researchers studying topics in promising young fields.
Exciting research in early stage fields often comes from individuals pursuing independent, idiosyncratic lines of research using special methods. The year-long Leverage Research Fellows program provides financial support and an intellectual community for researchers with promising independent research programs.
While we are primarily interested in supporting research in early stage fields, there are no restrictions on the field of study for prospective Fellows. Our Fellows are currently studying topics in philosophy, education, religion, mathematics and more.
Jonathan Wallis studies the development and impact of social technology. His research interests include the development of a Kuhnian paradigm for culture, the impact of belief systems on institutional morale, and ethnogenesis (the origin of new societies and cultures).
Dodson Morganthaler studies the relationship between the mind and the body. He experiments with embodiment practices like the Feldenkrais method, yoga, the Wim Hof method, and breath work, and seeks to understand them in the context of modern neuroscience. He hopes to develop a function-oriented theory of embodiment that can be used to create practices for improving psychological and physical health.
Nihal Singh is creating an actionable compendium of GurSikh doctrine. He is also writing an original work of political philosophy aimed at rekindling the virtues necessary to sustain free institutions and secure civilizational flourishing.