The word ‘research’ assumes that we don’t know what the final answers are at the start of our adventure. Many academics and researchers strongly believe that looking ahead and attempting to predict the outcome goes against this basic purpose and can potentially bias the outcome of our research. And so, I know that a good portion of you may toss this post out the window claiming it’s a waste of time to speculate about what your findings may, or may not, turn out to be.
Speaking from a project management point of view, as I tend to do overmuch, the value of speculation and constant reassessment is invaluable. Storyboarding helps here! The benefits of constantly looking ahead and reevaluating your position and progress, allows you to remain agile throughout the entire continuum of your research–not just for one fixed three-year project.
A storyboard is a graphic illustration or representation of how your video, story, article, or project will unfold, shot by shot–line by line. It’s usually made up of a number of squares with illustrations or pictures representing each scene, with corresponding notes about what’s going on in that scene.
By visually storyboarding your research, you will be able to see patterns, or interpretations, that may highlight a specific need or hole in your logic that you didn’t see previously. Seeing these inconsistencies ahead of time allows you to face your weaknesses, refine your methods, and create solutions to potential problems.
By attempting to complete your final product ahead of time, you are also getting a head-start on your final product–hopefully, a peer-review manuscript. If you begin a first-draft of your paper from day one, you can constantly revise paragraphs throughout the study instead of performing a mad writing dash at the end of the road.
Storyboarding also forces you to focus on the research narrative early in the process by outlining the critical details and keeping the overall main message in the forefront of your final product. This has the added bonus of keeping scope-creep in check!