Monday, December 21, 2009

My PhD - Wordle Cloud

I am nearing the end of my second year of my PhD studies and I thought it was time to check out where I am up to. I have been studying part time and plodding along, and this year I took 4 months off after my mum died.  I have enjoyed taking a break, but now I am starting to feel impatient to get going again.  I've had a few weeks off work and been able to study full time and this has been really enjoyable.

I thought it was a good time to do another wordle cloud to display and distill my PhD writing.  Wordle is a tool  for generating “word clouds” from text.   I have copied the text from my PhD writing over the past two years - I am up to around 10,000 words.  The  wordle clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text.  It is pretty cool and you can make your clouds look different  with funky fonts, layouts, and color schemes. 

It's interesting to see the themes that are emerging from my thinking, reading and writing.  Do you have any feedback or comments about my wordle word cloud?


Sarah Stewart said...

Looks really interesting, Helen. Have you been in contact with Jeffrey at Silence and Voice - he is doing his PhD on reflective practice - reckon you could get some good discussion going:

Helen said...

Thanks Sarah - I will follow up and make contact with Jeffrey.

Jeffrey Keefer said...

Helen, now that we are chatting a bit, I wanted to comment on this posting before we get too far away from it.

I think this is a fascinating Wordle idea. Did you include everything you have written, or just the writing toward your thesis (dissertation?)?

How did you filter out the more common words (the, a, for, etc.), so they did not show up with any great prominence?

Thank you.


Sarah Stewart said...

Helen: really want to know how to filter stuff in Wordle so look forward to your response to Jeffrey's question.

Helen said...

Hi Jeffrey and Sarah,
I have tinkered with Wordle in a lot of different contexts and I think it is a fantastic tool for distilling the main messages - sometimes I find it hard to see the wood for the trees!

With this wordle, I simply copied the text from my early thesis draft and pasted it into wordle. It must be part of the wordle magic that it filters out those common words, because you are right - they aren't there. It's funny, because until you mentioned it, I hadn't even noticed.

I'm looking forward to hearing more about your research Jeffrey.

Sarah Stewart said...

That's strange Helen, because Wordle never filters for me - maybe I don't don something right

Jeffrey Keefer said...

Hmm, perhaps Wordle like you better!

Jan Burkholder said...

The word cloud looks amazing! I think doing this kind of activities can really be a thesis help desk to the thesis writing. It would certainly help take refresh your mind, and at the same time keep track of what your thesis progress was going. Anyway, I do hope everything went well with your thesis.