Develop a Topic and Create a Concept Map
Develop a Topic
Follow the steps below before searching for information. It will be a big time saver
in the end!
1. Write down your topic.
- Briefly describe your topic in a broad sentence or question.
2. Identify the main words and concepts in each question. These are your
3. Identify alternative words and concepts for your keywords.
- Make a list of other words (synonyms) that could be used in place of your keywords.
Keep in mind that people who write or talk about the same topic may not use the same
- Think about terminology that might be used by professionals in various disciplines who work
with and write about your topic.
Different authors may use different terminology, so be prepared to use alternatives in your
- As you search for information using these words in various combinations will provide different
sets of results.
4. Identify subject areas relevant to your topic.
- Think about who is likely to write and read about your topic. Will there be people from more
than one discipline be interested?
For example, is your topic of interest to scientists, sociologists, historians, health
Create a concept map for your topic
A concept map can help you begin to think about your topic and create a search
strategy. Concept maps include the key concepts associated with your topic, alternative
terminology for these concepts, and the relationships between the various aspects of your
topic. Use the tools below to
Print a concept map for your use.
View a completed
handout of this