Prof Pat Thompson, whilst having a rant (her words) over on her blog Patter, offers some excellent insights into the role of creativity withing the research process. This is well worth a read, irrespective of your discipline. Here’s a small snippet to get you thinking but I encourage you to look at the complete post.
But perhaps the equation of research and creativity is more convincing to non social scientists if we look at common understandings of creativity. The recent Durham Commission on Creativity and Education in England for instance offered these definitions:
Creativity: The capacity to imagine, conceive, express, or make something that was not there before.
Creative thinking: A process through which knowledge, intuition and skills are applied to imagine, express or make something novel or individual in its contexts. Creative thinking is present in all areas of life. It may appear spontaneous, but it can be underpinned by perseverance, experimentation, critical thinking and collaboration.
These are not just for artists. They apply to research, to what we researchers do, right?