November is Academic Writing Month #AcWriMo at Methodspace! The theme of week three is: Focusing to Be Productive. Productive writers understand the research so they can synthesize and report the most relevant findings. In a previous post, visual mapping was suggested as a strategy for organizing key points. In this guest post, Steven E. Wallis, PhD and Bernadette Wright, PhD introduce a Knowledge Mapping approach.
There has been a vast explosion in the number of academic publications – journals, articles, posts, and books of all kinds. So much so, that no individual can keep up with any but the most narrow of fields. It is much easier to read a map – than to try to quickly make sense of pages of text!
To fight against fragmentation and confusion, we developed a new approach to “knowledge mapping” that is distinctly different from related techniques, such as “mind mapping” or “concept mapping.” We advocate a return to the basics of science by focusing on creating maps with only two components. Measurable concepts (words in boxes), linked by causal connections (arrows between the boxes).
Maps containing only those two elements let us share actionable understandings more easily to communicate with both scholars and practitioners. The Knowledge Map provides a unique “structural” perspective of knowledge that points the way to objective improvements in theoretical models for improved practice. Essentially, these maps let us “see the invisible” – where new pieces of research are needed to meaningfully advance our understanding of the topic.
For details and Knowledge Map examples, please visit: http://www.evalu-ate.org/blog/wright-jan2016/ . Wallis and Wright are the authors of the forthcoming SAGE book, Practical Mapping for Applied Research and Program Evaluation. The book will offer ways to use the Knowledge Mapping approach for synthesizing research within and between disciplines, enabling students to combine data from both qualitative and quantitative research methods.