Storyboarding research

Every research project has a project plan, but whether or not it is an effective plan is questionable. Rarely does a research plan fully take into account the not so unexpected foibles of research. Whether they are experiments that need to be redesigned, data only yielding ‘obvious’ results and archives harder to access than expected.

The research plan may well be a fairly traditional Gantt chart, but what about something completely different? What about taking a leaf out of movie-making business and using a graphic organiser to visualise the outcome of your research project?

Why would you do that?

One researcher, Professor Patrick Dunleavy, says that storyboarding your research project enables you to: –

Create Prototypes
Prototyping is often neglected in research because of the ethos to assume that we don’t know what the answers are at the start, and one should avoid preconceptions. However, setting out your expected outcomes or creating a prototype of the final product at an early stage can save time and money at a later stage.

Accumulate ideas
Storyboarding will often generate more ideas, and in doing this at the start of a research project it can help shape the project itself. It can also help to address often unanswered questions that are left dangling as the work gets written up. These other ideas may make it on to an Ideas Park and become projects themselves.

Close the gap between initial plans and first draft
Following on from accumulating ideas the process of storyboarding will help to reduce the gap often held between the initial hypothesis and the write up of the research.

Address inconsistencies
By visualising or documenting expected outcomes of a project it helps you to set out weaknesses or inconsistencies and refine arguments or solutions.

Focus on the research narrative
Storyboarding does drive the focus on to the key findings and conclusions. It also makes the overall message more accessible.

Avoid procrastination
We are not so convinced by this. Patrick suggests that by storyboarding your project you are able to foresee that a piece of work will be required. This in turn enables the person responsible for that piece of work to get it done as soon as possible, rather than close to the deadline.

So what exactly is storyboarding and how do you go about doing it in a research context?

Patrick sets out what storyboarding is, the levels of storyboarding and how it can tackle the mid-stage of text production. He also outlines how to storyboard both using technology or good old fashioned pen and paper.

Click here to read the full post.

The type of researchers that would really benefit from employing a storyboarding approach to research are large research teams, PhDers and other students doing graduate dissertations, Graduate students doing group projects.

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