Wednesday, 13 September 2017

The Writing Process

I got asked recently how I start writing. So this post is to explain my writing process and the tools I use.

When I have a new project to work on, I create a new Word document from my research template (download it here), then, as I am reading through my initial materials, I cut and paste key quotes into my document. I ensure that I use quote marks and provide correct in text citations (including page numbers) to start to form my initial scan of the topic environment. 

I compile a bibliography as I go, recording all article details in my resource log, keeping the bibliographic citation on each file as a 'sticky note' and storing all copies of all electronic article that I consult. This ensures that if my project changes further down the track, I have a full list of all materials I have used, and can go back to them, should I need to.

As I start to gather a depth of understanding of the field from reading, gathering key phrases and thinking, I create a concept map (Novak, Mintzes & Wandersee, 2005). A concept map enables me to tease out the links between ideas, and to narrow my scope, by deciding which elements are inside my project, and which need to be tied off and excluded. As concept maps graphically show the relationship between ideas, and what items are dependent on others, they faster and easier to assimilate than text. Concept maps really help to clarify a field. I usually use PowerPoint for this (as per the image above).

My next phase is to organise all my collected quotes into a logical format, so that I clearly tell a story. Then I only need to paraphrase all quotes into my own words, and add my own value and insights into the conversation. Then I start work on bridging and smoothing the concepts. Lastly I copy-edit. This approach seems to work for me. 

  • Reference: Novak, J. D., Mintzes, J. J. & Wandersee, J. H. (2005). Chapter 1 - Learning, Teaching, and Assessment: A Human Constructivist Perspective in Joel J. Mintzes, James H. Wandersee & Joseph D. Novak (Eds) Assessing Science Understanding: A human constructionist view. USA: National Institute for Science Foundation (pp. 1-13)

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