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RSS 470: Global Migrations and Lived Religion

From Concept Map to Research Question

Review the results of your concept map to help you narrow your focus. What looks interesting? What questions does this early research raise? Ask yourself "how" and "why" questions.

Evaluate your research question using the following criteria:

  • Clear
    • Can you clearly write a statement that conveys the main idea of your question?
  • Focused
    • Can your question be adequately covered within the parameters of the assignment?
      • Avoid questions in which entire books have been written to answer this question.
  • Complex
    • Does your question require research and analysis?
      • Avoid questions that can be answered yes or no.
      • Avoid questions that can be answered by compiling a set of facts.
  • Arguable
    • Do you know that there is evidence to support your question? AND Is it available and can you find it?

Tools for Concept Mapping

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

How to Create a Concept Map

Concept mapping is a great strategy to use as you develop your thesis. Concept mapping emphasizes relational thinking and can help you see the connections (or lack thereof) between the various elements of your research. 

The process is simple: start with the subject of your research question 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.





  1. Based on a preliminary investigation of your topic, create a concept map of potential research questions or topics. Branch out with arguments, controversies, or issues.
  2. Evaluate your concept map and revise as needed. Maps that are too thin indicate that the research question needs to be contextualized or enriched. Maps with too many branches indicate that the research question needs to be more focused.
  3. Once you’ve refined your concept map, develop a research question. As you uncover new information during the research process, you will want to alter your research question accordingly until it is workable and supportable.