In thinking about this ecology of ideas course and my plans, I must confide that I am both intimidated and thrilled as we move into the course. I find having most of our time focused on diving into our research, both freeing and challenging. I can focus specifically on my area of inquiry, and it’s aspects. As we started the semester with only one required textbook to purchase I knew that this semester would be much more focused.

Gathering the resources necessary for my dissertation will prove to be a project that requires a significant amount of organization and dedication. While I have not started being as systematic as I plan on being, I’ve gotten a bit of start. I’ve been trying to keep my eye open for sources discussed in my other sources and falling into the rabbit holes of following the trail of the material I am reading. As I come across one author, I’ve found several book chapters in the last couple of weeks that I have access to through the University cited in my text for Narrative Inquiry relating to participatory action research, educational research, and resilience.

My inquiry focuses on the school staff’s understanding of trauma and how they enhance and further their students’ resiliency. I’m planning on using participatory action research methods to work with a set of teachers, likely teachers working in special education services with students with emotional and behavioral disabilities.

I’ve gathered a lot of resources over the last couple of years. Any article that I come across, I am obsessive about making sure that I have a digital copy saved in my Zotero database. With all of these sources, I go a step further to verify the PDFs have gone through optical character recognition (OCR). By doing this step, I am making my entire database of sources searchable so that I can search and find information within them. Within Zotero, I use the notes field to put the information I found about the source. I also have a tool within Zotero that extracts highlighted text from the PDFs I’ve reviewed, to be easily searchable and findable as well. Last semester I created a video, Transdisciplinary Literature Reviews using Zotero, How I Manage References, that addresses some of how I use Zotero.

This semester to do my research journal, I am putting information in two places. First, I am using MindNode to create a mind map of the topics I am reading. I have not fully set up my system yet, but I plan to build my outline from this. As I am putting in some sources, I am tagging them to help sort and understand the data I have. My tags look like:

This will allow me to see what information I have and filter later down the line. You can see an image of my mind map I have so far. In the next week or two, I plan on starting to review and include some of the 617 sources I have saved in my Zotero database. I have them orgnized there, but I want to include that in my mindmap.

I’m just getting started with gather research specifically focused for my dissertation, but here is my start so far.

— Jacob Campbell (@campjacob) September 14, 2020

I’m also putting each of these sources into a running log in Drafts. It’s just a text file that includes the notes I’m writing and the sources I’ve pulled that information. I figure it might be helpful. In the last couple of years, Drafts has been where I have done almost all of the writing I’ve done at CIIS, for my teaching, and work at the school district. It is where all of my text starts, and then I export it into the format that it needs to be. For example, all of my papers and posts for Canvas are start in Drafts and written in Markdown. For posts to the forums, I export it as HTML and put it in the “HTML Editor” in canvas. When I write a paper, I copy the text as rich text and put it into a blank word document. Then in Microsoft Word, I only spend some time formating the actual document before submitting the final paper. The developer for Drafts recently added support for Wiki-Style Cross-Linking Drafts. I am thinking that when I start writing my dissertation, I will use this to create sections/chapters that allow me to focus on individual parts of my paper. This process would be similar to apps such as Ulysses or Scrivener in having buckets to write and organize writing in.

Author Note

The following essay was originally posted to the online discussion forum for TSD 6526 - Ecology of Ideas as a part of my Ph.D. Studies in Transformative Studies at the California Institute of Integral Studies.