How To Library

Mapping Your Research Ideas


This quick video from UCLA Libraries walks you through the best was to choose a research topic and brainstorm research questions. 


Concept Mapping

Concept Mapping
Concept Map
A concept map is a visual representation of a research topic. Concept maps are a great way to organize and explore the different facets of your topic. Once you decide on the main research topic, make that the center of your concept map. Determine the key concepts and areas that make up your main topic and make these the first branches of your central topic. Additional branches can break your subtopics down into more specific areas, which can help to narrow down your focus if your main topic is too broad to research.




Developing a Topic


In order to write an effective research paper, you will need to come up with a good research question. 


Sometimes one of the most difficult parts of writing a research paper is choosing a good topic. Here are some tips on developing your topic and narrowing it to a manageable scope. 



1. Try to choose a topic that you are interested in! You're much more likely to write a good paper if you're engaged and interested in the subject matter. Reflect on personal experiences, subjects you naturally gravitate to, and topics you've read about that interested you in the past, either in school or in your outside life. 


2. Do some informal background research to get your ideas flowing using reference materials, news sites or just general internet browsing. While sites like Wikipedia may not be appropriate to cite in your academic work, they're perfectly appropriate for inspiration. 


Narrowing your topic


Sometimes your topic is too broad, making it difficult to cover all of the information effectively within the scope of your assignment requirements.  To narrow your topic, think about the following questions:


What are some narrower issues within my broad topic?

Is there a specific time period I can focus on?

Is there a geographic area associated with my topic?