Critical Thinking in Intelligence Analysis Work

What is critical thinking?

Critical thinking is the analysis of available facts, evidence, observations, and arguments to form a judgment. For intelligence analysts, critical thinking is at the heart of intelligence analysis and affects all stages of open source intelligence investigation work, from investigation planning, information collection, and intelligence analysis to decision-making and communication. In short, critical thinking is the ability to deal with, study, and analyze a given situation clearly and rationally.

Critical thinking is the key for intelligence analysts to carry out open source intelligence work.

When working on open source intelligence investigations, analysts need to consider how to find all the data needed for mission planning, which data sources and tools need to be considered and weighed against each other.

In every question planned by the intelligence analyst, it is necessary to consider whether it is objective, whether the requirement segmentation is appropriate, and whether the data found can fully answer the requirement.

In the actual investigation, the data found may include false information, such as fake news and fake reports. Intelligence analysts need to consider whether and why the data sources used are trustworthy.

Conducting open source intelligence investigations requires critical thinking. By critically thinking about how to collect raw data as much as possible, then process, analyze, and refine the data to obtain intelligence. During this process, please pay attention to:

1. Identify survey needs. It's best to communicate with customers and define answerable questions. For example, if a customer wants all the information about an institution, then it must be communicated to determine what exactly "all information" includes.

2. To study a topic in detail. For example, the need to understand customers and their areas of focus or competitors.

3. Identify requirements and segment them. The commonly used method can be the 5W2H method: why, what, who, when), where, how, and how much.

4. Define the data source.

5. Formulate keywords for each segmented requirement. There may be only a few at first, and then you can continue to improve.

6. Consider the tools needed for this requirement.

7. Browse for context with a quick search. So as not to be overwhelmed by a lot of information or attracted by some unimportant information when you really start to do it.

8. Consider whether the initial findings met expectations. If not then please repeat the workflow, which is the intelligence loop.

9. Gather the information you need and exhaust all resources.

10. Refine and analyze the collected information.

11. Evaluate the report, considering whether the report is objective. You can ask colleagues who are not familiar with the topic to help. If you find new problems or directions, you need to repeat the workflow.