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WR 13100 (13) — Writing and Rhetoric (Duffy)

Concept Maps

A concept map will help you brainstorm your topic and identify what concepts or keywords to use as you search for information. It also helps you identify what you already know about your topic, provides you with an opportunity to think about your topic in new ways, and identify gaps in your knowledge.

A concept map for the above example might look like this:
Concept Map Example 

For a blank concept map that you can print out, click below:
Printable Concept Map 


Research Strategy Worksheet

We have developed a Research Strategies Worksheet to assist you in creating a concept map.  Completing the worksheet will you to:

  • briefly and clearly describe your research problem
  • identify the key concepts from your research problem
  • brainstorm alternative keywords for the key concepts

Here is an alternate Research Strategies Worksheet. Feel free to use either one to help you develop and refine your research question and to formulate a research strategy. 

Turn your research topic into a question

Once you have a solid topic, it is time to formulate your research question or hypothesis and begin finding information.  Try to begin your question with Who, What, Why, Where, or How.

To successfully search for information,  it is best to determine the main concepts and then find keywords for those concepts. The keywords can become your search words.  In general, you should search library databases with 2-3 keywords, rather than your whole topic question or a sentence.  

For example, your research question might be "What are the affects of social media  on the self-esteem of adolescents? First identify  the keywords as shown.


Then begin generating synonyms and related words to help you develop a search strategy.

social media self-esteem adolescents


self-concept teenagers
Facebook      body image  young adults      
online social networks respect children


Your search strategy might look like this: 


View this video created by the University of Washington Libraries to learn how to make your searching more productive and effective.