Mind maps for a research outlook: An example for CSCL

The beginning of a research process is usually an exhaustive review of the state of the art. As one gets deeper into the domain one realizes that just reading articles and getting to know what people in the field isn’t really enough. There is much more contextual information needed to have a broader look of not only the current research being done but also the environment in which it is developing.

So, besides the what one would also look for is the who: Senior and junior researchers working in the same research topics, as well as the groups they belong to. Having a clear idea of who the main researchers are in the field and their previous work is also very helpful (the why).

Another important fact is the where. This includes not only meaning the physical location of the people working in the field but the situations or contexts in which you might find research related to your work. Keeping track of conferences and journals that are relevant for one’s work is also a must.

Some time ago when my work was more contextualized in the field of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) I started a mind map about this domain. Of course, besides all of the contextual information it includes a basic start for the kinds of research being done in the field. This was done taking into account my interest in interaction analysis so it doesn’t provide a generic  overview but might be of help for anyone starting in the domain. Besides, the mind map structure can serve as inspiration for other domains.