Mind Map is a qualitative data collection tool that is mainly used in the beginning phase of research for generating ideas. It is a diagrammatic tool that is used to represent words, ideas, and concepts surrounding a central word or idea. It also serves as a tool to unpack thoughts and beliefs/concepts.
This tool can also be used in various stages of research to elicit, represent, and integrate knowledge. Like a tree, its branches extend from the central or core idea into sub-branches. Using images, color, and varying line-weight can help to visualize and organize ideas and their importance. Mind maps can be useful for communicating, brainstorming, interviews, and note-taking.
There is no right or wrong when creating a Mind Map. It is structurally more flexible than other mapping tools and can represent ideas in a variety of ways. Without constraints, one can freely express ideas and concepts surrounding the central theme. A Mind Map can be created freehand or digitally or through online programs. A disadvantage with using digital and online mapping tools limits the freedom of using hands, drawings, colors, is less personal, and unsuitable when sharing with others.
Advantages: free-flowing format that supports the natural thinking process; visual aid in discussing key components or tasks; very flexible structure; organization tool.
Disadvantages: maybe hard to use or construct for some people; takes time; difficult for others to understand.
James Cook University in Australia uses the Mind Map technique to map their research methods.
Johannes Wheeldon from the Simon Fraser University in Canada uses Mind Maps as a participatory tool to facilitate more detailed and in-depth reflections of experience in her research.
Tony Buzan, the man who popularized the method uses Mind Mapping as a note-taking tool.
Buzan, Tony. Use Both Sides of Your Brain. Rev. and Updated Ed., 1st ed. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1983. Print.
“Mind Mapping Research Methods.” - ResearchOnline@JCU. Web.
“Social Research Update.” Social Research Update. Web.