Much of the advice about doing a PhD and in particular the ‘writing the thesis’ part involves doing mindmaps, network diagrams, scribbles, drawings – any type of visualisation technique that will allow you to break from the 2 dimensional linear-word-on-page and get out that 3 dimensional understanding that you have of your research.
- 1 x Scrapbook. A big one. It should not fit into your handbag/manbag. But then again, you are not an undergrad visual arts student – you don’t need it to be knee-high. Check out the kids section in your local supermarket. Mine is 64 pages.
- Post-it notes: all sizes (raid your Faculty stationary for these as they can be expensive).
- a nice texta: black (also known as Sharpies)
- a glue stick
- coloured textas or pencils
- access to a printer and/or photocopier.
Example 2 and 3: Here is a question my Supervisor posed to me. I felt like I kind-of knew the answer but really struggled to articulate it . I started working on it in my scrapbook and eventually took it into my thesis. I don’t have this diagram in my thesis, but it allowed me to conceptually make links between items in a way that made sense to me. I don’t think I could have done this by writing the linear-word-on-the-page
Example 4: This is a framework that I was trying to develop to see how different concepts might fit together. I worked on the diagram in Google Drawings (online via Google Drive) and then printed it out and glued into my scrapbook. I knew the Framework wasn’t quite right. Having it there next to my computer meant I could add and write and draw & then edit the online version later.
Example 5: I was not feeling the above Framework, so I started to sketch some other ways that I could present the linkages between the concepts. This was inspired by an image that I found online ( I have a folder that titled “Visual Inspirations”) and I was playing around seeing if the format would suit me.
I hope that these real examples from my thesis scrapbook have inspired you to do the same. I know it can be hard to understand what exactly people mean when they say “you should mind-map”.
If you have some of your own sketches or scrapbook-your-thesis ideas, please share in the comments so that other people can see them and be inspired.