Metaknowledge projects receive $1.38 million in grant funding

Knowledge Lab granted 1.38 million dollars this week to support 15 data-driven projects about how ideas are formed and circulated. Supported by the John Templeton Foundation, the grants encompass 11 different institutions, will welcome eight new researchers to Knowledge Lab’s Metaknowledge Research Network, and support the work of eight existing members.

Over the course of the next year, researchers will pursue projects spanning everything from computer science to literature, plasma physics and sociology. What the projects have in common, though, is that they all seek to understand the nature of their respective fields through computational methods.

“Knowledge Lab is about understanding where questions and answers come from, in science and elsewhere,” said James Evans, the lab’s director, associate professor of sociology and senior fellow in the Computation Institute. “And when you understand that deeply enough, those biases, those heuristics, those rules, when you take those into account, you can generate better hypotheses and technology.”

Evans and Knowledge Lab executive director Eamon Duede sent out a call for proposals months ago through its network members and various domain-specific email lists. They received some 50 proposals before landing on the 15 projects they’ve committed to fund.

The lab evaluated proposals based on their relevance to the goals of the network, their intellectual novelty and plausibility, their potential broader impacts, and the promise of the team, said Duede. “We wanted really creative people in their fields to think creatively in those ways, about our field.”

These grants represent a major step toward Knowledge Lab’s goal of establishing metaknowledge as a new field. “We want to grow this field, so what we get out of the grants is new collaborators, a bigger network, and more people asking and answering these questions,” said Duede.

In addition to existing researchers at the University of Chicago, the University of Washington, the University of Wisconsin, Northwestern, UCLA, and Columbia, the grants have attracted researchers from Notre Dame, Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, MIT, Oregon Health and Science University, and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago to the Metaknowledge Research Network.

In a year’s time, Knowledge Lab hopes to see at least one paper published from each of its granted projects in addition to the online platforms and other materials several projects have proposed. To read more about the funded projects, please visit: