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Improving nutrition programmes through the promotion of quality coverage assessment tools, capacity building and information sharing.

Mind mapping

A mind-map can be used to summarise the findings of a SQUEAC investigation. It should be drawn and modified as the investigation proceeds. Mind maps can be drawn by hand, by using drawing software or by using mid-mapping software. Most SQUEAC investigators use both hand-drawn mind-maps and mind-mapping software. It is particularly useful to use both methods during training. A large hand-drawn mind-map is useful for managing a SQUEAC investigation, providing a rich summary of the current state of the investigation and can serve as a focal point when deciding data-collection needs and dividing tasks between team members. The collaborative focus provided by the mind-map facilitates team building and improves the quality of the investigation.
Drawing mind maps by hand:
Drawing mind-maps by hand is quick and simple and allows maps to be built collaboratively and encourages debate within the investigating team. Hand-drawn maps may also be used as ‘interactive exhibits’ in interviews. Image 1 shows an example of a mind map which has been hand drawn. The untidy appearance emphasises the interim nature of findings during the early stages of an investigation.

Image 1: A Mind Map (Credit World Vision International)

Mind-maps may be created using some (or all) of the following guidelines:
  • Start with the central theme (‘Coverage’) in the centre of the page.
  • Keep the mind-map clear by using a branching hierarchy.
  • SQUEAC mind-maps tend to use the hierarchy of:

Central Theme → Data Source/Method → Individual Findings

  • Present each finding alone; relationships between findings may be shown using, for example, dotted lines, symbols, or colours.
  • Use images, symbols, and codes throughout the mind-map:
    • Use the ? symbol to mark unconfirmed findings.
    • Use the ✓ or ↑ symbol to mark positive findings.
    • Use the ✗ or ↓ symbol to mark negative findings.
    • Use the ~ or ↔ symbol to mark neutral findings.
  • Combine symbols (e.g., use ?↑ to mark unconfirmed but indicative positive findings).
  • Use boxes, circles, shading, etc. for emphasis.
  • Write key words using uppercase or lowercase letters and use colour and underlining.
  • Lines should be connected and start from the central theme.
  • Vary line thickness to denote importance/influence.
  • Use colours throughout the mind-map to encode or group.
  • Use emphasis and show relationships in the mind-map.
  • Redraw and re-organise the mind-map as it becomes confused and untidy.
These are guidelines, not rules. The only rule is that findings should be organised in tree structures organised around a central theme.
Drawing Mind-maps using drawing software:
Drawing a mind-map on the computer using drawing software is useful for producing a fair copy of a hand drawn mind map for inclusion in reports:
Mind map

Image 2: A mind map drawn on a computer using drawing software (Courtesy of World Vision International)

 Drawing Mind-maps using mind-mapping software:
Using mind-mapping software has many advantages:
  • The mind-map can be restructured without having to redraw it from scratch.
  • Mind-mapping software can also act as a sort of database with charts, spreadsheets, interview transcripts, interview summaries, concept-maps, etc. being stored ‘behind’ each node or leaf on the mind-map.
  • The mind-map can easily be included in reports.
  • Some mind-mapping software can use stored data to produce a report automatically.
Image 3 shows SQUEAC mind-map being edited using an open-source mind-mapping software package called XMind. This is available free from: . This screenshot shows the text stored ‘behind’ the node for the findings of interviews with village doctors as well as a graph of routine program monitoring data. The XMind software can automatically produce a formatted and illustrated report using the entered findings and the hierarchical structure of the mind-map.
Xmind sceen shot

Image 3: A screen shot of a mind map being developed using XMind software (Data courtesy of Save the Children USA and the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy (Tufts University)

Much of the text and all of the images in this page were taken from pages 53-61 of:
  • Myatt. M, Guevarra. E, Fieschi. L, Norris. A, Guerrero. S, Schofield. L, Jones. D, Emru. E and Sadler. K , 2012. Semi-Quantitative Evaluation of Access and Coverage (SQUEAC) / Simplified Lot Quality Assurance Sampling Evaluation of Access and Coverage (SLEAC) Technical Reference, available to download here.