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SSI2-156: Justice, Arts, and Incarceration

Topic Mapping

A topic map can help you break a general topic or idea for a research project into more specific areas of interest:

  • aid thinking at the beginning of the research process
  • create a visual overview of a topic
  • develop questions on a topic
  • reveal patterns, themes, and associations between ideas
  • generate search terms to conduct research

Allow the guiding questions to help you interrogate your own interests, leading to a more focused topic or research question. Your topic map can also help you generate search terms that will help you conduct effective searches in the library catalog and databases.      

From Topic to Research Question to Thesis

Research typically begins with a topic that has piqued your curiosity.  When you're researching a topic, you typically are interested in questions of who, what, where and when.

As you learn more about your chosen topic, however, you'll discover that scholars may have different approaches and arguments about the topic, and you'll start to ask your own research questions.  Research questions typically begin with why or how:

When you've selected a research question to explore and are ready to make an argument as to how to answer it, you'll come up with a thesis.