Chronologies are useful frameworks to structure communication when TIME is the most important variable.
DEFINITION: Chronologies use TIME as a framework to connect elements of information.
For example, a timeline is a graphical framework that can illustrate important time-based information.
Chronologies are useful in contexts where time is the most important variable. For example, chemical reactions, laboratory techniques, or clinical interventions may critically depend on time (Bonner, 2013). A chronological framework is therefore appropriate to describe the steps necessary to achieve a desired outcome. Time may also be important in situations such as court proceedings, where a chronological framework may help establish causality (Brooks, 2016). Therefore, chronological frameworks are appropriate in contexts where time is critical for linking factual information together.
However, a chronology is not the strongest framework to use in many academic and scientific contexts. For example, time is not the primary variable in hypothesis-testing scientific publications. Although time may be important for some aspects of study design, scientists typically test hypotheses using statistical tests and logic (Platt, 1964).
Moreover, many students employ chronologies for academic or career communications when other frameworks would be more effective. For example, the purpose of documents such as personal statements and cover letters is typically to provide evidence that a candidate has the attributes and skills necessary to succeed in a particular field. Programs ask for "personal," not "confessional" statements. Strong personal statements are business propositions, not life stories. Therefore, the chronological frameworks often used by students to demonstrate motivation based on past experiences do NOT effectively satisfy the objectives of the "business proposition:" demonstrating specific capabilities that will enable future success.
In summary, although chronologies can be useful in specific contexts, chronological frameworks are typically NOT the most effective frameworks to use in most scientific communication.