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Keeping sense of accounts using computer based cognitive maps

Cropper, Steve and Eden, Colin and Ackermann, Fran (1990) Keeping sense of accounts using computer based cognitive maps. Social Science Computer Review, 8 (3). pp. 345-366.

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his article describes the use of Cope, which is designed to hold knowledge encoded using the cognitive mapping techmque. Cognitive mapping is an attempt to operate Personal Construct psychology beyond the use of Repertory Grids. Cognitive maps have some similarities to modeling techmques used in political science, notably by Robert Axelrod and colleagues. Concepts (short phrases) are linked to form chains of argumentation, essentially explanations leading to consequences. Any concept can be linked to any other concept and the links can be directed. The software releases cognitive maps from many constraints of two-dimensional representation, allowing the researcher to manage complex, qualitative data more effectively. The modeling method and software are used to gather materials—observations, interview data, documentary data and so forth—together, to find areas of corroboration and difference between accounts of events and issues, to examine the coherence and adequacy of accounts and to promote enquiry into and understanding of the structure of accounts as modeled. Through the analytic and retrieval routines in the software, a model's contents can be sorted, explored, and presented in many ways in order to manage the richness and complexity of qualitative data. Principles and practices of model building and qualitative data analysis are illustrated throughout the article. Keywords: qualitative data, accounts, cognitive maps, software, complexity, analysis, storage, retrieval.