Investigative Principles for Intelligence Analysts

During an investigation, there are three principles to keep in mind to guide your investigation:

1. Analysis is evidence-driven

Lines of investigation without evidence always require rigorous analysis. Weak links in reasoning or holes in the chain of evidence can bring instability and holes to an investigation. The old saying, "A chain is only as strong as its weakest link," is especially true for investigations.

2. Perform key assumption checks

Performing such a check will help identify unsupported assumptions and explore how the conclusions of the investigation might change if those assumptions change. During this process, analysts can explore how to further strengthen key nodes in the investigation and increase confidence in the final assessment.

3. Avoid rushing to judgment

Analysts should take the time to ensure that due weight is given to any judgments. If judgments are made hastily, the analyst may run afoul of anchoring bias. Future attempts to revise this judgment based on new information or further analysis may result in analysts not changing their judgment sufficiently.