Research in Engineering Design

, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 381–410 | Cite as

Influence of analogical domains and comprehensiveness in explanation of analogy on the novelty of designs

Original Paper


The overall goal of this work is to support creativity of technical products by supporting improvement of novelty of designs at the conceptual stage. In this work, use of analogy as a means of aiding creativity was studied for its influence on novelty—a central aspect of creativity. To study their influence on novelty of designs, analogies were classified on the basis of two distinct but related parameters—‘distance between the source and the target domain’ and ‘level of comprehensiveness in explanation of analogues.’ ‘Distance between the source and the target domain’ is defined here as the conceptual closeness between these two domains, on the basis of which analogies are classified as biological domain, cross-domain or in-domain analogies. ‘Level of comprehensiveness in explanation of an analogy’ is defined here as the relative depth at which an analogue is explained, on the basis of which explanation of an analogue is classified as surface, shallow (both shallow and surface are less comprehensive) or deep (more comprehensive). Five design studies have been conducted in laboratory settings to study the influence of these parameters on novelty. The major findings from the study were the following: analogies from the biological domain produced significantly greater novelty in designs over analogies from cross- and in-domain for less comprehensive explanations; analogies from cross-domain and biological domains had no significant difference in novelty in designs for more comprehensive explanations.


Comprehensiveness in explanation Analogical domains Conceptual design Design for novelty Biomimetics 



Authors are thankful to B.S.C. Ranjan, Praveen Uchil and Harivardhini S for providing their inputs that helped to improve this work. Authors are also thankful to Nishath Salma and Dawn Varghese for assisting in the studies that were conducted as a part of this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Product Design and ManufacturingIndian Institute of ScienceBangaloreIndia

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