Mind Maps (or concepts maps) are often utilised to enable the framing of a research question, structure an essay or a literature search, or make notes in a business meeting. The maps are formed in order to present information in a viewable manner that has similarities to the route the brain takes to map out ideas; i.e. in a non-linear, interlinked way. Mind Maps have a certain way of using colour, pictures and symbols to help the brain to regurgitate information.

One way to implement a Mind Map in your research process is to use the map to state what you already know about a particular topic. The map can then help you identify the gaps in your knowledge. It would also be useful for you to use mind maps to instigate a literature search – using pictures along with search terms could assist to activate other similar terms or synonyms. If you label the Mind Map as your search develops then you will have an idea how you managed to reach the final conclusion.

If you would like to gain more information from an expert on the concept of mind maps Tony Buzan has written a book called, Use Your Head (1989), for more information on the use of mind maps in differing circumstances Buzan has outlined some helpful hints as well adhering to certain rules.

  1. Begin with a coloured picture in the middle of your piece of paper.
  2. Utilise a large number of pictures  of images within your mind map
  3. Block letters should be used all the time
  4. Al the words should be written on lines and every line should be joined to another line. The mind map will then have some sort of order.
  5. One line only should be used for each word.
  6. Having a set of coloured pens or pencils and using them in the construction of the mind map does assist the memory in its ability to recall.
  7. Think quickly and write quickly as soon as an idea comes into your head.

Mind mapping software

We recommend the following mind mapping software for students:

An example of mind mapping

Here is an example of a mind map.

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