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Reflexive outlining with several outliners

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Posted by Dr Andus
Oct 18, 2011 at 07:45 PM

 

In case this triggers any interesting suggestions or comments: I’ve just begun outlining my doctoral thesis (in the social sciences), and as it’s going to be a complex piece of work (8-9 chapters, 80-100k words in total), I found that using several outliners across two monitors allows for a reflexive process of outlining that seems to be the most effective in helping me clarify my thoughts.

The process and setup is as follows: in Scrivener (for Win) I begin by using the index card (corkboard) view to develop the overall structure, while also using the hierarchical outline in the binder view. I may even do some ad hoc writing as I go along. From time to time I switch to Natara Bonsai, where I’m constructing a bare-bones equivalent of the exact same hierarchical outline. At times the Bonsai outline moves ahead, then I go back to Scrivener and update it, or vice versa. It’s a reflexive, mirroring process. The benefit of this is that Bonsai allows for a single-pane view of the entire outline, which is not possible in Scrivener, as it doesn’t allow you to see what’s inside a “document” (an item on their outline view or corkboard).

More or less simultaneously to the Scrivener-Bonsai mirroring, I’m constructing yet another version of the exact same outline in Storybook, which allows yet another way of visualising the outline. The most helpful is the “chronological view” which allows you to see multiple “strands” (or storylines) side-by-side, which I’m using to separate different levels of analysis which belong to different disciplines but which are mixed up or even simultaneous at times in the text itself. Also, the “chapters” view is very useful because it allows me to see all the “documents” (scenes in Storybook or index cards in Scrivener) in all the chapters in one single view, which is not possible in Scrivener because it only shows the index cards of the particular hierarchy that you are viewing.

Basically all three software provide a totally different view of the text, its elements, and its overall structure. Obviously if these were available in a single software, I would have gone for that, but being able to open three iterations of the same outline in different views would be crucial.

 


Posted by Pierre Paul Landry
Oct 18, 2011 at 08:06 PM

 

Dr Andus wrote:
>Basically all three software provide a totally
>different view of the text, its elements, and its overall structure. Obviously if
>these were available in a single software, I would have gone for that, but being able to
>open three iterations of the same outline in different views would be crucial. 

I’m pretty sure that all these views are available in InfoQube (and more, such as MapView).

Pierre
InfoQube designer
http://www.infoqube.biz

 


Posted by Dr Andus
Oct 19, 2011 at 03:24 PM

 

Pierre Paul Landry wrote:

>I’m
>pretty sure that all these views are available in InfoQube (and more, such as
>MapView).

Pierre,

thanks for the suggestion. InfoQube is on my list of software to check out, so I will definitely do. But I have to say that for the moment I’m very pleased with the visualisation capabilities of my current Scrivener+Bonsai+Storybook arrangement. Scrivener already allows for some pretty sophisticated visualisation with its combination of binder, cork board, outline, scrivenings and split pane views. This is then greatly augmented by Storybook with its 3 innovative views and 8 or so charts. What I also like about all 3 software that they keep the visual interface very clean, so I can stay focused on the writing task.

But I do look forward to testing InfoQube.

 


Posted by Glen Coulthard
Oct 19, 2011 at 03:38 PM

 

Hi there—I am also working through the dissertation process and I’ve been using the following for similar purposes: Writing Outliner for Word + ConnectedText + Noteliner, along with Citavi (for references), Atlas.ti (for analysis), and MyNotesKeeper for random thoughts, ideas, and journaling. I don’t know how I ever worked with a single monitor—all these apps are open on my 2 x 24-inch monitors.

Thanks for sharing your setup.
Glen

p.s. The other must-have’s in my research workflow are Macropool’s WebResearch and PersonalBrain for web-based content, link, and URL management.

 


Posted by Alexander Deliyannis
Oct 19, 2011 at 04:58 PM

 

Dr Andus wrote:
>simultaneously to the Scrivener-Bonsai mirroring, I’m constructing yet
>another version of the exact same outline in Storybook, which allows yet another way
>of visualising the outline.

Overall I’m impressed; I have a couple of practical questions:

- Is there a non-manual way to transfer the outline from Scrivener to Bonsai; e.g. as tab-indented text, OPML or whatever?

- Can you explain how you construct the _outline_ in Storybook? With the Stoybook info types I would expect that you can get 3-4 levels max, i.e. parts, chapters and scenes, plus the parallel strands, is this enough for you?

 


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