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Documentation for Narrative Projects

In many cases, a narrative project is itself a form of documentation that expresses the outcome of other research. However, you will likely need additional documentation that explains how the narrative project took on its final form, what resources it used, and who was involved.

Published onMar 06, 2020
Documentation for Narrative Projects
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In many cases, a narrative project is itself a form of documentation that expresses the outcome of other research. However, you will likely need additional documentation that explains how the narrative project took on its final form, what resources it used, and who was involved. The credits at the end of a movie are a form of this kind of documentation, as are things like bibliographies, forewords & afterwords, and introductions. While many people leave such documentation until the end of a project, you will have a much easier time and produce more accurate documentation if you take the time to make notes for it as you work.

There are three types of documentation to consider including:

  1. Documentation that explains how to use the project to an end user. This will probably be in the form of a “read me” text or an introduction. This is especially important if you are using an unfamiliar platform, but may be unnecessary if you are making a movie. Tell end users how to navigate, where to find parts of the project, and anything else they need to know to get the most from your work.


  2. Credits and attributions. This explains who worked on the project, what sources were involved, and similar details that confirm the credibility of the project and recognize its connections to other projects. You can put this all in one place (for example, in an “about this project” section on a website), or you can divide it up into categories that go in different places. You may wish to cite sources within accompanying text, for example, or to include a list of credits at the end of a movie or slide series.


  3. Information that helps you or others edit the project or create similar projects later. This documentation often stays private, and should be maintained throughout the course of the project. This should be accessible to everyone working on the project, so a text file on a shared drive or a platform like Google Docs works well. You can keep it in the form of a journal or meeting notes, or divide it into sections like Content, Technical Details, and Legal/Copyright.


    Plan to include:

    • Where raw information, including images, maps, and other multimedia, is coming from, what kinds of permissions you have to use it, and how it should be captioned or attributed.


    • How raw content is transformed into elements that work within your narrative. This might be a process of adding points on a map, or pulling clips from a video, or editing images. Who did it? What tools did they use? What decisions did they make in that process?


    • How you build the project within your chosen tool. This might include specific settings or processes you use, the way you collaborate with others, or specific problems you run into and how you resolve them. Make sure to include what steps you take, in order, and how long you spend on them. This kind of information is invaluable if you want to work on a similar project later.

Continue Reading: Updates, Maintenance & Sustainability for Narrative Projects

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