Mind maps

Create a mind map to brainstorm your ideas. A mind map reflects what you think about a single topic and is usually created quickly or spontaneously.

At the beginning of your project you might use a mind map to explore your expectations or initial theories. Later on, mind maps can help to confirm the structure of your codes.

Mind maps are primarily a brainstorming tool that start with a central topic or main idea. Ideas that relate to the central topic are represented by an individual shape and connected with a line to the main idea. All ideas are connected in some way—either at the same level or in a hierarchy. Sometimes you might have an idea that doesn't seem to be connected to any other ideas—you can add this to the mind map as a floating idea.

To get started with a mind map, take one key concept or term and think of all the things that might be associated with it. Be fluid and don't censor your ideas as they flow. An idea might prompt other ideas to branch off it - they could be at the same level (sibling ideas) or go deeper into a concept (child ideas).

As an example, you could ask someone to interview you about your research topic. Note the key words and terms you use most—then select one of those terms to start your mind map.

When you create mind maps, save an image in your project journal and record your insights.

Example of a Mind map.

When should I create a mind map?

At this stage of your project Create a mind map to
Early on Brainstorm your starting point and any assumptions. Map theoretical groups of concepts, sorted into themes so that you can build your code hierarchy.
During analysis Develop new codes. Either by drilling down and "breaking apart" existing codes into new codes. Or by working up to develop broader codes that encompass other codes. Explore how people talk about a thing—what terms do they use? This can reveal gaps you need to gather further data for, or highlight more coding that you need to do.

Presenting results

Plan how you tell the story of your research.

Create a new mind map

  1. On the Explore tab, in the Maps menu, click Mind Map.
  2. Enter a name and description in the New Mind Map dialog box.
  3. Click OK. The main idea is displayed on the canvas.
  4. Type a label for the main idea and then press Enter. You can only have one main idea in each mind map.
  5. Select the main idea then on the Mind Map tab do any of the following:
    • To add a subordinate idea, click Child Ideaor press Insert.
    • To add an idea at the same level, click Sibling Ideaor press Enter.
    • To add an idea that is not connected to any other idea on the map, click Floating Idea.
  6. Type a name for the new idea.

Create codes from mind maps

Once you've created a mind map, you can turn your ideas into codes in your project. The structure of the mind map is used to create the code hierarchy.

  • On the Mind Map tab, click Create As Codes or Cases.