Many people instinctively generate ideas in list or paragraph form, but you may know that you think better visually. Maps and diagrams can immediately show us some of the relationships between ideas and can spur further ideas in one direction without confusing another.
Thus making an idea map (also sometimes called an idea web) may be for you.
To make an idea map:
- Put your topic at the center, draw a circle around it, and draw four or five lines extending from it:
- At the ends of those lines, write down any related ideas you think of and circle those.
- Add any ideas and lines coming off of those "subtopics" (I put that word in quotations because they may be of equal importance.):
- Connect further ideas off those topics if you have more ideas about them. (If you run out of room for one line of inquiry, continue it on another sheet.)
- After you've exhausted one line, return to your main topic and do the same with the others;
- Do this until you feel you have enough for a paper or to define your research questions.
You’ll end up with something like this:
Photograph "This is Boston" © 2008 Kotarana.