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Introduction to Academic Reading and Writing: Concept Map

Writing Tip IconCreate a concept map during or after reading your sources to outline the concepts related to your topic and demonstrate the relationships between them. Concept maps will help you better retain and understand what you read.

Concept Maps

Create a concept map using your annotations and highlights of the text.

  1. Define your map’s focus question and topic. Your focus question guides your map in a certain direction. What is the purpose of what you read? Your topic is what you are reading about. 
  2. Create a list of relevant concepts, thoughts and implications of your topic as you read. 
  3. Think about the relationships between these concepts and begin to organize the list of concepts from broad to specific. You can set a topic at the center, with supporting points and details branching outwards, or you can create a hierarchy, with the topic at the top and its components below.  
  4. Add links and cross-links between related concepts and label these links with words or phrases to clarify the relationship between concepts.
  5. Color code, add symbols, and personalize to your map so that is meaningful to you.


Check out these free online Concept Mapping tools:

Video by McLaughlin Library, University of Guelph, 2017.

Concept Map Example

Map by Penn State University, Concept Maps iStudy Tutorial