Friday, 5 March 2010

MindGenius Mind Mapping Software & PhD Research

For the last six years I have been doing a part-time PhD into the meaning of two Greek words. Unfortunately for most the time I did not have MindGenius. When I did buy it, MindGenius transformed the way I did my research.

Researching the meaning of an ancient Greek word means you have a lot of sources to look up and a lot of data to collect. One of my tasks was to read a lot of letters in Greek which were found in an old rubbish heap in ancient Egypt, looking for evidence of how my word was used.

There are hundreds, thousands, of these letters. Luckily by the time I had to give a talk about them, I had MindGenius. Otherwise I would have ended up with countless pieces of paper and bookmarks and got into an irretrievable muddle.

First I went through the books, noting in MindGenius the book and page number of the letters I was interested in, with a note of the subject, such as death, childbirth, school, business and bossy wives. Then I used categories to show how likely I was to use each letter.

From this, I was able to divide the letters up into their different subjects, giving me about a dozen level 1 branches, one for each subject. From that, I created a category map which brought together the letters which I really wanted to use, already divided by subject.

From there it was easy to discard the letters I did not want and organise the rest into the structure for my talk, which I used to compile my photocopied letters in order and as a guide when I was delivering the talk.

At the moment I am still doing the final writing up of the whole thesis but I have stalled on chapter 2. It is long and complex and I wrote the first draft without MindGenius.

It was long and rambling with no clear structure or overall theme.

But since then I have used MindGenius mind mapping software to make mindmaps of particular themes in the thesis, bringing together information from a number of sources with my own comments added in different styles - eg font, colour - to distinguish them from my sources.

So to make headway with chapter 2, I have made an outline mindmap of the whole thesis and a detailed one of the problem chapter just as I had written it. That showed me immediately where the structural problems were in the chapter itself and what the overall theme needed to be.

Now I have made a further detailed MindGenius mindmap of chapter 2, using the insights I have gained.

MindGenius makes writing it up easy: I've moved the notes editor to the bottom of the screen so I can write directly into the notes (mainly for level 1 branches), using the whole map or focused sections for the complex bits, at the top of the screen as an aide-memoir. In this way. In this way, I don't lose sight of the overall structure while concentrating on the section I'm writing.

When I've finished, I will simply export it to a Word document, omitting branches without notes (mainly branches below level 1), which will give me a chapter complete with section headings. Then all I have to do is add footnotes.

If I'd had MindGenius, with its ease of usage, versatility of display and variety of outputs, in the earlier years of my research, I reckon I would have finished my thesis ages ago.

Peter Roberts

(drafted and written in MindGenius!)


David Young said...

I would love to see what the Mindmap looks like for some of this. I am presently attempting to put into Mindmap format using Mind Genius, the Greek New Testament using key words for each pericope and then making associative tags and comments re vocab and syntax etc
David Young

Kelly Robertson said...

Hi David, I will contact Peter and ask him if he would be willing to share his map, either on the blog, or with you directly.

Anonymous said...

I am working on my masters thesis, would love to see how the mindgenius was structured. Would you be able to share your mind map?


Peter Roberts said...

Hi Fardeen. I'v emailed you a copy of one of the mindmaps I've referred to. Let me know if there's anything not clear.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Roberts,
I would also like to see your MindMap. I am beginning work on a phd dissertation and would like to use a mindmap to organize my literature reveiw. Julie Cramer, San Diego

Peter Roberts said...

Hi Julie

Thanks for your message and email address. I think the most useful map I could send you is the one I used to gather and organise references for my talk on women's letters. I'll email it to you.

Good luck with your PhD.


Anonymous said...

Hey David,

I had not heard of before i read this post.... Im going to take the 30 day trial...and find out more...

Cheers from:
Mr David Young

Kelly Robertson said...

Hi David,

Thanks for your post - I will pass your message onto Peter. I hope you find the trial useful.


tshiamo sigwele said...

wanna try this,I have just started my PhD

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