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Pacific Lutheran University

Inquiry. Service. Leadership. Care.

Getting Started with Research

Whether this is your first time doing research, you need a quick refresher, or you want to improve your own research practices, this guide is design to assist you.

Exploring Your Topic

To brainstorm ideas related to your topic, you may consider using a concept map. A concept map is a graphical tool for organizing and representing knowledge. The map includes concepts (or ideas) enclosed in different shapes, and demonstrates the connections between ideas with linking lines. Here is an example:

Concept Map Example

Using a concept map in this manner can help you brainstorm ideas (concepts) related to your topic, while also connecting those ideas to both your research and your writing. This map can then help you determine what areas you will need to research in order to fully explore your topic.

Questions to Consider

Q: What is the central idea for your topic? What other concepts are related to that main idea?

Q:What perspectives are you including in your concept map? Are any missing that ought to be included?

Q: What are other ways in which you can organize and further narrow or broaden your research question?