Bulletin of Chinese Academy of Sciences (Chinese Version)


think tank research, think tank double helix methodology, six transitions

Document Type

Think Tank Research


The article analyzed the current characteristics and situation of think tank research both domestically and internationally, and raised the ideas that think tank research need to achieve "six transitions" especially under the background of think tank construction agenda of Chinese government, which is to transition from empirical to scientific research, from discrete to systematic approach, from randomness to normativeness, from pure academic-oriented to integrative studies fitting both academic and practical requirements, from static to stable style, and from a single discipline basis to comprehensive and consistent research. Based on long-term experiences and practices in policy and strategic research, Prof. PAN Jiaofeng at the Institutes of Science and Development, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CASISD) proposed a new method for think tank research, namely the think tank double helix methodology. The methodology comprises of two cycles:the external cycle featuring three stages-the deduction of research question, the comprehensive research, and the regression to the real problem, and the internal iterative cycle involving two mutually embedded helixes-DIIS at the process level and MIPS at the inherent logic level. The DIIS helix emphasizes that the research must follow a step-wise process beginning at data (D) collection, and proceeding to information (I) revelation, intelligence (I) synthesis, and arriving at solution (S) formation; while MIPS helix stresses that the content of the research must follow a logical pathway starting from mechanism (M) analysis, developing to impact (I) analysis and policy (P) analysis, and finally arriving at solution (S) formation. In the booming field of think tank research, the double helix methodology represents a fundamental work to advance the scientific development of think tank research, given that it provides a pathway to promote the "six transitions" as mentioned above and to establish think tank research as a science. The methodology would provide think tank research with a new way of thinking, practice guidelines, and operational approach, hence establishing a research paradigm for think tank research. As a new way of thinking, it aims at eliminating the scattered, fragmented and simplified style of thinking, giving way to a more holistic and systematic mindset. As a practice guideline, it offers a global, panoramic and full-process reference for think tank research, covering both the process and the content of the research. As an operational approach, it plays an instrumental role in gathering the wisdom of experts and scholars with various academic backgrounds and experiences, and comprehensively integrating methods and tools of different types. Therefore, this article explains in detail about how to utilize the think tank double helix methodology as the basic theoretical and methodological paradigm, so as to promote the "six transitions", and reveals the value and significance of the think tank double helix methodology in promoting the scientific development of think tank research.

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Bulletin of Chinese Academy of Sciences

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