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date: 12 July 2020

Summary and Keywords

Intelligence analysis is defined as analysis carried out by intelligence organizations. The essence of intelligence analysis is determining the meaning of information to develop knowledge and understanding. The meaning derived from the analysis is used to address many different types of questions, which are categorized in variety of ways. A general classification of the questions, sometimes described as types of intelligence or analysis, includes strategic intelligence. The seminal publication for describing and explaining the processes and attributes of strategic intelligence is Sherman Kent’s 1949 book, Strategic Intelligence for American World Policy. The intelligence literature acknowledges that determining meaning is influenced by the analyst’s mindset, mental model, or frame of mind. A variety of factors influence mental models, including context and purpose, past experience, education, cultural values, role requirements, organizational norms and the specifics of the information received. A recurring theme in intelligence literature is the use of scientific methods in intelligence analysis and the discussion of the analytic process in terms of scientific methods. Key elements of the analysis processes include hypotheses, information research, and the marshaling of evidence, and how they affect the determination of meaning. Intelligence research also emphasizes the importance of rigor in analytic thinking. Despite the accumulation of a substantial amount of scholarly work on intelligence since the 1940s and 1950s, the literature has not advanced on the core aspect of determining meaning from information to address the full range of complexities in intelligence analysis.

Keywords: intelligence analysis, meaning of information, intelligence, strategic intelligence, Sherman Kent, intelligence literature, mental models, hypotheses, scientific methods, analytic process

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