Conceptual diagrams are an effective tool to communicate complex messages in a simple and informative manner.
Conceptual Diagrams or 'Thought Drawings'
- from the latin word 'conceptus' meaning thought & the greek word 'diagramma' meaning drawing
- depict essential attributes of the system
- evolve to capture an increasing understanding of the system
- depict processes at different scales
A conceptual diagram being created with our free vector online diagram creator.
An effective conceptual diagram has two key elements:
1. Consistent Symbols
- very powerful tools
- information rich
- common in everyday life
- universal and language independent
- size, color, shape, and position of the symbols
- can all convey meaningful information
2. Comprehensive Legend
- makes diagram 'stand alone' and self contained
- no need to read accompanying explanation
Four Important Reasons for using Conceptual Diagrams
1. Helps clarify thinking and avoid ambiguity
2. Provides a communication interface
- combines current scientific understanding with community priorities and environmental values
- provides an approachable representation of the system
- allows a shared vision to be created
3. Useful for integration and application - identify gaps, establish priorities & solicit an agreed syntheses
4. Now easy to produce with click and drag symbol libraries in Adobe Illustrator - enhances rapid iteration, ensuring accurate depictions of system and processes
Applications for Conceptual Diagrams
- Set Research Agendas
- Develop Scientific Syntheses
- Setup Monitoring Programs
- Identify Management Priorities
- Can be included in scientific literature including peer reviewed journal articles
RESOURCES, TOOLS & TUTORIALS
There are a large variety of resources, examples, tools and tutorials available along with the download of the IAN Symbol Libraries that can help you in the production of your own conceptual diagrams.
Online Conceptual Diagram Creator
This online vector editor has direct access to the IAN symbols via our Image Library, allowing you to create conceptual diagrams in your browser for free without the need for specialized vector software. To access the symbols, click the IAN logo icon. You will need an account with our image library (free).
IAN Symbol Libraries
The IAN symbol libraries contain over 2500 custom made vector symbols (in 55 albums) designed specifically for enhancing science communication skills. The libraries are available in SVG, AI and PNG versions. The symbols allow diagrammatic representations of complex processes to be developed easily with minimal graphical skills.