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SSI2-119: Foodways

How to Create a Concept Map

Concept mapping is a great strategy to use as you develop a research question. 

Ask yourself: what do I already know about my topic? what am I curious about? what kind of information do I need, and where am I likely to find it? 

From a disciplinary perspective, think about what kind(s) of scholars might investigate your topic, the kinds of questions scholars and experts in a particular field might ask, how they would ask those questions and what evidence they would use to make their argument. For this assignment especially, you might also ask:

  • What data could help me investigate and understand my topic? Where might I find that data? 
  • What other primary source(s) might be useful for you? 
  • What questions are you asking about your topic? 

Finally, consider what you know about the resources available to you and where might be most fruitful for you to begin your search. If you're following up on the scholarly conversation around your topic, do you need to look for work by historians? Scientists? Sociologists? 

The process is simple: start with the subject of your research in the center, then:

  • In the space around the central concept, write words or phrases for any relevant subtopics.
  • For each of your focus subtopics, add related terms/concepts to your map.
  • Continue to fill out your branches with ideas or questions about types of resources you may wish to start with. 

Do some background research on your topic to help create a concept map. Feel free to consult the Internet, an encyclopedia, course readings, or a librarian to help explore a topic. It may be through this background research that you will stumble upon a gap that you want to explore! Keep revising your map as you learn more about your topic.


Tools for Concept Mapping

You can create a concept map with pencil and paper or use one of these free online tools: