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Develop a Topic and Create a Concept Map

To save time researching your topic, follow the steps below before searching for information.

1. Write down your topic as a broad sentence or question.

Example: Do video games cause violence in children?

2. Identify the main words or concepts in your sentence or question. These are your keywords.

Example: Video Games, Violence, Children

3. Brainstorm alternative words you can use for each of your keywords in Step 2. These should be synonyms or related ideas.

Tip: Think about terminology that might be used by professionals in various disciplines to discuss the same issue. Use a combination of these when searching.

Video Games Violence Children
Computer Games Violent Behavior Youth
X-Box Aggression Teenagers
Grand Theft Auto Bullying Juveniles

4. Identify subject areas relevant to your topic.

Tip: Think about who is likely to read and write about your topic. Will there be people from more than one discipline interested?
Example: Psychology, Sociology, Education

5. Create a Concept Map

A concept map is another tool you can use to create a search strategy for your topic. Download a Printable Concept Map to create your own.

For more help, watch this tutorial about filling out a concept map.