Starting a Research Kanban Board

Visualize & workshop your research questions


A Kanban Board is a visual tool to help organize and manage project/research processes.

To get started you'll need:

Post it notes

A blank space (white board/chalk board)

Pens and markers (or chalk)


A Kanban Board is an organizational tool that is best used for ideation processes. By delineating your own processes on a white board and adding ideas or questions using sticky notes, this organizational method can provide you the flexibility to move, edit and rework ideas using a visual medium.

It can be used to visualize your data collection process, theory workshopping, organize your literature review, brainstorm your variables and help organize large datasets.

In terms of research, the purpose of this Kanban board is to brainstorm research questions and identify required information for each project I'm currently working on.

Before you can begin adding your sticky notes to your Kanban Board, you'll want to make sure you understand your Kanban organization.

This Kanban Board is organized in an open grid where it is clear that the three across labels are connected. In this case, I am working on three different projects which have their own requirements.

Since the information required will be specific to your project, only take this as an example.


For this Kanban Board, I've identified 9 areas which need to be included in my final projects;

Project 1: Concept, Attributes, Theory,

Project 2: Data, IV, Literature,

and Project 3: Hypothesis, DV, Philosophy.

Depending on where you are in your project(s), you may see your board littered with a certain color sticky note in one section.

I will also be using different colored post-it notes to help create to ensure a balance of my resources;

Pink: General ideas,

Blue: Ideas taken from the dataset,

and Yellow: Ideas ready for development.

Sticky notes should be short and brief, a great tip is to speak aloud your idea or question and see what answers you give. Any questions that you can't answer can go on the Kanban board on a pink sticky note. Conversely, if you have a question about your data and don't feel like you have a good answer, add a blue sticky note to the board.

Some questions may be easy to answer, simply by reviewing your data or reading the literature. I like to leave room on my sticky notes so I can make changes or add information later. The key with making your Kanban Board work for you is its flexibility.

As you can see, your Kanbans do not need to be neat, these are ideas coming straight from my brain and onto paper. The less time you spend writing, the better; spend your time thinking, reading and revising.


Now, if you've decided to use this system, you may be seeing your Kanban Board quickly becoming cluttered with post-it notes. The board is a visual representation of your work, which means if it becomes unreadable, it is no longer useful. Keep in mind that a Kanban Board for research will need a timeframe of use. Short-term research projects can span as little as a few weeks to a year, while long-term Kanban Boards can be several years. As you can imagine this system will require you to wipe the board clean when it becomes cluttered.

But don't assume these sticky notes are just one and done! I want to preserve my ideas and questions as long as possible because I will often ask the same or similar questions throughout various projects.

A great way to save your sticky notes is in your Research Journal. Ideas continue to be workshopped until it is good enough to move onto development or be included in your proposal. For these projects, development is going to be the very last step, therefore I need a space to keep my pink and blue post-its.

If you notice though, the title for the research page in my research journal is data Kanban but the post-it notes are pink. You could order your research journal Kanban Board to be exactly the same as your white board or create a new Kanban Board which has a different color coding system. I chose the latter but this has less to do with my white board Kanban Board and more to do with the set up for my research journal.

Hopefully, whichever Kanban Board you chose, you will have an easier time with organizing your research process.



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