Zeroing in on a research topic: Concept maps, by Katherine Arndt

Trouble focusing a research topic? Try this!

Concept maps provide a way to visualize the relationships between topics. 

Here’s a concept map for “vaccinations:”

Vaccination concept map by Martha Hardy

Vaccination concept map by Martha Hardy

Once you have the map you can start see possible narrowed topics in the bubbles on the outside of the map. In this case some possible research questions might be:

  • What are the effects of vaccination on public health?
  • In what ways has Andrew Wakefield’s paper affected vaccination rates in the U.S.?
  • What impact has the introduction of the polio vaccine had in other regions of the world?
  • What are the costs associated with vaccination?

There are several concept map applications you can try. The above map was made with the free version of Spider Scribe. I also recommend the free version of Simple Mind. There is a desktop version and apps for Android and iPad. Of course the old-fashioned pen and paper method always works too!

Do you have a favorite topic refining tool?

2 thoughts on “Zeroing in on a research topic: Concept maps, by Katherine Arndt

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