Concept Map

Concept Mapping Your Topic

One way to analyze and narrow your topic is to use a concept map. This will help you to brainstorm ideas and then focus your topic so your research is manageable. There are different ways to create a concept map. One of the most common methods is to write the broad topic in the middle, then branch out with subtopics, related issues, and examples or details.

If you don’t know much about your topic, you can refer to a tertiary source, such as an encyclopedia or Wikipedia, to get background knowledge on the subject. Often, tertiary sources use an outline to organize information. You can use those sub-headings in your concept map.

The concept map is a visual organizer that can also help you narrow your topic to a research question. The research question will influence the steps you take to answer the question. Learn more about developing a research question in the next module. (1)

Concept Map Template

Template of a concept map. Broad topic circle is in the center. Related issues and subtopics branch from the broad topic. Examples and details further elaborate the issues and subtopics.
Figure 4-2: Concept Map Template by Florida State College at Jacksonville is licensed under CC BY 4.0 .

Concept Map Example: Death Penalty

Concept map of death penalty is the broad topic in the center. Related issues and subtopics of 'death penalty' include history in U.S.; public opinion; methods; capital crimes; distribution of sentences. Examples and details elaborate the issues and subtopics. 'Lethal injection' is an example of the subtopic 'methods.'
Figure 4-3: Concept Map of Death Penalty by Florida State College at Jacksonville is licensed under CC BY 4.0 .