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Designing a discussion

Using the concept map effectively

Not everyone feels the need to do a concept map, but many writers find it a really powerful strategy for thinking and planning a discussion of academic literature. It seems especially useful in foregrounding the argument, and positioning the literature as support material – helping many students to make their own voice loud and clear as they discuss other people’s research.

When a concept map is organised around questions, which are supported by references to and quotes from various sources, it then becomes easy to draft paragraphs that start with a claim by the reviewer, and then refer to other voices to explain and illustrate the point.

So when you’re creating a concept map, start with your list of questions. Once these are on the page (or screen), you can position them in any order you like. Play around with the organisation, until you have a sense of what might work best as an interesting sequence of ideas.

Branching off from each question, add the sources of information that you have already matched to that question, and will use as evidence in discussion of the question. It’s easy to draft a paragraph, when you know its purpose and place in the unfolding text. Concept mapping like this is an effective design tool for a discussion of literature.

Conversation starter

  • Do you think you will do a concept map before outlining and drafting your review? Why/why not?

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This article is from the free online course:

Research Writing: How to Do a Literature Review

University of Wollongong