Structured timeline mapping as a data collection methodology: a new perspective for research on environmental adaptation

Jelena Luyts, Nathalie Burnay, Etienne Piguet, Arona Fall, Issa Mballo, Florence De Longueville, Sabine Henry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The process of adaptation is dynamic and involves a temporal component. However, conventional methods of data collection have mostly been used in research on environmental adaptations and provide a rather static view. The structured timeline mapping method presented here is grounded in social sciences, designed for the West African environment, and constructed to capture time. The different steps for its construction and implementation are outlined along with the underlying reasoning that led to the choices made. It appears both respondents and interviewers benefit from this method since the recall process is facilitated for the first and the visual support gives a global view of the interview at all stages for the latter. Additionally, this methodology offers four major benefits. First, temporality is the central information collected, with both the timing and the duration of the elements. Second, this approach enables the observation of linkages and interrelations between adaptations or between adaptations and perceived changes in the environment. Third, the participants can self-reflect on their situation and bring elements to the analysis. Lastly, structured timeline mapping results in a more holistic view of the respondent’s adaptation journey. Therefore, this data collection methodology provides a complementary view of the adaptation journey.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClimate and Development
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • adaptation
  • data collection methodology
  • environmental change
  • northern Senegal
  • Temporality


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