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RHET:1030/1040/1060: Rhetoric (Writing & Reading, Speaking & Reading)

Maximizing Your Question

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Activity - Mapping your topic

Creating a concept map can help you begin to think about your topic and create a search strategy. As you begin a project, your topic may evolve, but you need to identify what you know about it and what questions you have. Concept maps include the key concepts associated with your topic, alternative terminology for those concepts, and the relationships between the various aspects of your topic.

To create a concept map:

  1. Write down your topic or question.
  2. Circle the main concepts.
  3. For each concept, list keywords, such as synonyms, examples, and other ways of describing the concept.

Feeling stuck? Here are some questions to get you going:

  • Are there other ways to describe the concept?
  • What is the opposite of the word or concept?
  • Is there a genre/overarching concept?
  • Can you think of a more specific example?
  • Can you think of who cares about the topic? Those names or organizations can be used as search terms, too!

Write down any questions you come up with during the process. Those questions may help develop a more precise topic, or determine different avenues of inquiry around the topic. 

By doing this activity, you have just created a whole list of keywords that can now be used to do a much richer and more varied search of the research databases. This means better results to work with! Good job, you!