“Show, don’t tell”: Using visual mapping to chart emergent thinking in self-reflexive research


This paper uses examples from my doctoral work to show the ways in which visual mapping can be used both to develop and clarify our thinking, and to provide a form of visual validation of the insights gained, in self-reflexive research. Visual mapping can operate as a meaning-making process, helping the researcher to make sense of their thinking through visual means, while also helping the reader to understand the researcher’s thinking processes better, through a series of diagrams that trace the development of thoughts and ideas. Visual mapping is one method self-study researchers can use to demonstrate what Mishler calls “the visibility of the work” (1990, p. 429), and to make plain the ways in which our thinking developed, and the connections we make between theory, data, and analysis. By making our thinking process visible, we allow our reader to “see the study and the links and leaps made” (Pinnegar & Hamilton, 2010, p. 150).