Formulating your topic
Now that you have an idea of what you are going to write about you need to jot down everything you know about the topic and anything that you want to find out. This will form the basis of your search strategy. Mind tools like those featured below are a good first step to help identify keywords that represent your topic, raise key issues and concepts and identify gaps in your knowledge.
Try them and decide which is best for you.
This is where you just allocate ten minutes or so to just write down anything and everything that you know about the topic. Try not to stop to think just keep writing even if it is 'I can't think of anything else to write'. The idea is to really focus your mind on the topic and your existing knowledge. It will also help in making you aware of gaps that need to be filled. Don't worry about spelling or grammar at this stage just get the ideas down.
For an overview of Freewriting see this YouTube video: What is freewriting?
Brainstorming is similar, but instead of a constant flow of words you jot down key words and ideas.Brainstorming is often done in a group to encourage new ideas and to bounce ideas off one another which in turn may spark new ideas, but you can do it on your own.
Follow this link for examples of brainstorming techniques https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brainstorming
Mind mapping is similar to brainstorming but uses a mapping process so you make connections with lines rather than sticking to a hierarchical form. You start with your central topic in the middle of a large blank sheet of paper and you make connections.
Cubing encourages you to look at a topic from six different angles.
The Six Sides of the Cube are:
- Describe it - How would you describe the issue/topic? Describe key points
- Compare it - What is it similar to?
- Associate it - How does the topic connect to other issues/subjects? How does this decision/event connect to other decisions/events? How does this person/character relate to other people/characters?
- Analyze it - How would you break the problem/issue into smaller parts?
- Apply it - How does it help you understand other topics/issues?
- Argue for/against it - adopt a viewpoint
- I am for/against this because...
- This works/does not work because...
- I agree/disagree because...
Heuristics is a techniques used in problem solving and decision making. Using heuristics encourages you to interview yourself to tease out everything you know about a topic.
Questions like Who? Why? What? How? When? and Where? are particularly useful when using this approach.
Now that you have thought about your topic you can begin to consider the type of information that will help in your research.