Island of Research journey map

In a previous post I wrote about how I tried to find the copyright owner of the diagram The Island of Research and how I made contact with Ernest Harburg.

The journey through The Island of Research is as follows (although it isn’t always a linear process!):

  • City of Hope
  • Bay of Literature
  • River of Words
  • Jungle of Authority
  • Problem Range
  • Pinnacle of Dogmatism
  • Peaks of Confusion
  • Money Pass
  • Study Design
  • Instruments
  • Entree Tactics
  • Redesign Path
  • Pretest
  • Ridge of Boredom
  • Population Data Run
  • Forest of Fatigue
  • Serendipity Mine
  • Coding
  • canyon of Despair
  • Mount Where-are-we-going?
  • Data Analysis Jungle
  • Data Fever-Breeding Ground
  • D.D.D. Delata of dirty Data
  • More Data Trail
  • Wreck Heap of Discarded Hypotheses
  • Where-am-I Fog
  • Bay of Leisure
  • to Administration Island
  • The Great Fund-less dessert
  • No Budget Trail
  • Plains of Report Writing
  • Rewrite Trail
  • Bog of Lost Manuscripts
  • Delta of Editors

Surrounded by:

  • The Sea of Theory
  • Know-it-all Isle

the Island of Research

The Island of Research by Ernest Harburg
The Island of Research, an illustration by Ernest Harburg uploaded to Flickr by barbourians. Used with permission.

The Science Game by Neil Mck. Agnew and Sandra W. Pyke

I have seen this image The Island of Research used in presentations about academic research and design and I have always wondered where it came from. So I wanted to write this post to document my findings.

The final outcome of my search is that the copyright for the illustration is held by Prof. Ernest Harburg of the University of Michigan in the USA.  His profile and CV can be seen here. The diagram was drawn by William Brudon.

I first saw the image on the cover of a book The Science Game by Neil Mck. Agnew and Sandra W. Pyke published by Prentice-Hall in 1978.

The illustration above was reproduced on the third page of the book and in the preface it was credited to Ernest Harburg [“We gratefully acknowledge Ernest Harburg’s permission to use the Island of Research map” (The Science Game, Agnew, 1978)]

Research Map - Credits

Searching the internet I found that the illustration was first published by Harburg in the “American Scientist 54: 470, 1966” and was called the Research Map (source)

The image was prepared by Dr. Ernest Harburg of the University of Michigan along with Elaine Stallman and drawn by William Brudon.

This is confirmed by the names in the botom right hand corner of the image below the blowing cloud. If you look closely you can see HARBURG – BRUDON – STALLMAN – 1966 (or 1965 it isn’t very clear)

Searching the internet I have found this information confirmed at whereas this post credits Agnew and Pyke which isn’t correct and links to this image which doesn’t attribute the source to anyone.  I also found it on a page at which credits Neil Agnew and Dandra [sic] Pyke, and although the diagram is in The Science Game that isn’t the original source of the diagram.

I contacted Prof. Harburg via email to ask if I could use the image and received the following reply:

>>> “E Harburg” 04/15/11 7:15 PM >>>
Dear Ian,

I am the owner of the copyright for this illustration and I am very generous about having it used by my colleagues. I would just ask you to send me a final copy any publication in which it appears. I wish you the best of luck.

Best regards,

Ernie Harburg

So on the basis of this I will credit the image to Ernest Harburg (Used with permission) and will also include a link to this post.

UPDATE: A good quality scan of the diagram can be found on my Flickr page

I’m sure that you could also use the image with permission and if you want a referenced source then you could use:

Harburg, Ernest. (1966). Research Map. American Scientist, 54, 470.

The wording on the diagram can be found here:

activity theory talk by prof. sten ludvigsen

My notes taken at the University of Cape Town at a seminar given by Prof. Sten Ludvigsen of the University of Oslo


When using Activity Theory based research you need to ask yourself – What is new?

Best for:

  • Empirical research
  • In a regulated environment (like schools or workplaces)
  • In complex situations

Activity Theory is an idea of:

  1. Object orientation
  2. Mutual constitution
  3. Mediation by tools and signs
  4. Historicity
  5. Multi-voicedness of activity
  6. Contradictions as source of change
  7. Zone of proximal development ~ expansion

Drawn on 3rd November 2010 by Ian Barbour