concept mapping a dissertation #dissertating

I have finally figured out a central issue with writing up my research for the dissertation. I have been immersed in developing ecological understandings of interactivity and communication. This research as reinforced a pre-existing approach to understanding that I have used extensively: mind mapping.

Suffice to say, I use a concept mapping application before I use anything else to organize my thoughts, formulate a plan, and implement an activity. My brain sighs with relief when we are looking at networks of relationships between thoughts, ideas, concepts, literature, and research data.

The structure of the dissertation is very much a hierarchical model of information organization. There is certain information that comes at the beginning, the middle, and the end. It is a linear process of information representation, as if the experiences of doing the research could be written up in a nice, sequential narrative.

But the research itself was an ecological study of cognition! The structure of the study, the methods employed, all enacted ecological theory and connectivity. I do sorely wish I could write my dissertation as a blog, or even better, a wiki site. I would be able to link up the different bits of information as a network of observations, literature reviews, theoretical approaches, methodologies, findings, and discussion.

As it is, I have spent two years writing Chapter One, and even with this latest effort, I am mapping the paragraphs and sentences, wishing I could link between terms and definitions or exemplars.

Each sentence refers to whole lines of explication or discussion. It is purely frustrating not being able to follow the links and write them into existence as I move through the writing of the chapter. At present, I have to give myself permission to write this way, because it is the only way I can make any headway.



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