Mapping Your Research Ideas

Hey there, Bruins! Here’s a quick tip from
your friends at the Powell Library Inquiry Lab! The first
tip, Mapping Your Research Ideas. Creating a map of your research ideas is
a strategy you can use whenever you need to figure out your
paper topic, or come up with a list of possible research questions. It’s also handy when you need to narrow or
broaden the topic of your paper. To get started
grab a blank piece of paper and a pen or pencil First, draw a circle in the middle of the
page, and write your idea for a paper topic inside. If you’re not sure what to write, you can
start by connecting your class or assignment with something you are passionate about. You can pause the video here and take a
few minutes to write down your topic. Next, think about all the questions you
have about your topic! What are you curious about? What would you like to know? As you brainstorm, try to use a variety of
question words and phrases. You can pause the video here and take a
few minutes to write down as many questions as possible about your topic. Next, look for a section of your question map that looks
particularly interesting to you, and try adding new questions to this section. Note that you can quickly narrow your
topic by focusing on themes. For example, cultural aspects, geographic areas, groups of people, and time spans or historical events. at this point, focus on asking specific
questions to narrow your topic. Let your curiosity lead the way! Pause the video again and take another
few minutes to add new questions to the page Now look at your map, and the questions
you’ve asked. You probably have quite a few possibilities to consider. By choosing key words and concepts from
your map, you can formulate your ideas into the question you want to explore. So, what’s next? Here just a few ideas. First, take another look at your assignment. Which of your questions do you think best
addresses the prompt? Of these, which questions are you most
passionate about exploring? Once you choose a section of the map to
focus on, you can use keywords and phrases to search in Google Scholar or an article database, to see what
specific conversations researchers are having about your topic. Finally, you may want to check with your
instructor to see if a topic is too narrow too broad or just right. Want help with the next steps? Come visit us in the Inquiry Labs in 220 Powell Library!

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