Concept Mapping

There are various ways to plan your search. One of the simplest is to construct a concept map. A concept map is a visual representation of concepts and their relationships to each other.

To create a concept map:

  • Write your topic in the middle of a blank piece of paper and circle it.
  • Around your topic, write down ideas and concepts associated with the topic. Group ideas according to themes. Draw lines between concepts to show how they are related.
  • Tips: Don't edit your concept map as you go. Try to draw the map quickly.
  • Save your concept map so that you can refer to it and add to it as your literature search progresses.

Concept map examples:


To develop an effective search strategy from your concept map, take the main concepts from your topic and think of synonyms or alternate terms for each concept. Combine synonyms or alternate terms using OR, and then combine concepts using AND. In the following example, the main concepts have been underlined, and alternate terms are given below each concept:

Example Concept Map