Graphic depiction of events and actions on a timescale.
To create a Timeline:
Place a line across the middle of a blank page and turn it into a timescale. Take the events and actions listed in your Chronology. The description of each event (or action) should be placed above the appropriate point in time on the timescale. Use a line to connect the description to its date on your timeline.
Put the description of your facts above the timescale and your points of analysis or commentary below the timescale.
Analyze your Timeline:
- Look for gaps in your timeline. Are all critical events and actions included?
- Discover patterns and trends.
- Identify relationships between your events and actions.
- Determine the cause and effect relationships.
Also, understand what is NOT cause and effect. We tend to view the world in terms of cause and effect. Our instinct is to see 'cause' first and 'effect' second. There is an important distinction between causation and correlation. In causation, an action directly causes an effect. In correlation, there is merely a relationship between two or more things. Statistics can be used to describe the degree of correlation between two or more variables.
- Explain the distance between key events or actions. Is this due to a delay? Due to an arbitrary deadline? Is there something missing?
The Thinker’s Toolkit, Morgan D. Jones, New York: Three Rivers Press, 1995.
Thinking in Time, Richard Neustadt and Ernest May, New York: The Free Press, 1986.