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Qualitative Content Analysis

Development of an academic research agenda, including deriving research questions.

In order to ensure I both thoroughly understood the existing and potential research space, and identified appropriate research gaps, I took a structured approach to developing a research agenda. I conducted a qualitative content analysis that roughly followed the design thinking process (understand, explore, and materialize) as developed at IDEO.

Lit Review (Empathize and Define)

To understand the current research environment, I conducted a literature review. This review combined existing documentation that I had from my previous research, and a deep-dive into other relevant research. To complete this, I:

  • identified and read new articles, popular sites, syllabi from related courses, news articles, corporate information, and other documents that contained reputable information about the latest research in creative AI (and/or creativity and AI as separate concepts)

  • drew on my personal experience, ioncluding conferences, seminars, conversations, and personal reading that related to the broad concept of creativity and AI

  • began to identify gaps in the existing research

  • noted questions that came up in related research scenarios

Initial list of questions (Ideation)

From there, I began to come up with my initial list of questions. I used several different methodologies to develop this initial list, including:

  • brainstorming

  • mindmapping

  • root cause analysis (5 Whys)

  • SWOT and PESTLE analysis


The initial list was comprehensive, and therefore extremely broad. In order to develop a more intentional research agenda, I began to categorize the questions and related concepts through:

  • mindmapping

  • identifying best concepts, categories, and sub-categories (Affinity Diagramming)

  • sorting questions into categories and change and adding groups as necessary (Landscape Mapping)

  • adding additional questions as they emerged

As a more defined research agenda began to emerge, I clearly identified researchers and/or organizations doing the same or related research for potential collaboration opportunities and data sources.

Iterate on ideation and categorization


Screenshot of mind map related to the research agenda. The central idea branches to seven groups, which each have potential research questions listed.


Create an organized research plan (Prototype)

In order to socialize my research agenda to gain feedback, suggestions, and opportunities for collaboration, I laid it out in a presentable, clear, and plain-language format.


Screenshot of the research agenda: The confluence of creative AI, people, and work. It lays out concepts, sub-concepts, and related questions.
Selection from the research agenda

Submit the plan for review (Test)

I included the review in my integrated paper submission (an integral step in my doctoral program - the step after which a doctoral student in the program moves to become a doctoral candidate.) Through this and further discussion, I was able to review the agenda with my advisors, other professors within my program, and academics in related fields, and incorporate their advice and suggestions as appropriate.

Use the plan in continuing projects (Implement)

I have since used the research agenda to help drive my dissertation direction. It created a foundation from which I have built the more specific research focus needed to plan, propose, and implement my dissertation research. The agenda also serves as a map for developing collaborations within my research field. In continually updating the agenda, I have a consolidated list of researchers and organizations doing work related to my research interests.


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