Develop a Research Topic - Brainstorm Transcript

Do you need a research topic? It's a great time to brainstorm.

What's brainstorming?

It's a way to help you pour out all your ideas, no matter what they are and then sort thru them to see what works.

It's a way to get the gears moving in your brain and a great way to begin any project.

Are you ready?

There are lots and lots of ways to brainstorm, so we'll just highlight a few: the freewrite, listing, and the mindmap.

The Freewrite

A freewrite starts by setting time limit, typically around 15 minutes, and then you write down everything you can think of until your time runs out. It may look something like this:

This paper is supposed to be on the politics of tobacco advertising but even though I read the book I can not think of anything to say and I have felt this way for the last 4 minutes and I still have 11 minutes left and I wonder if I’ll think of anything before the time is up and I am babbling and it is really hot out today and I am looking at my wall and I never noticed those cracks before and the cracks remind me of my grandfather’s den and he used to smoke and I wonder when he started smoking and why…

There will probably be a lot of chatter but don't worry how silly or pointless it may seem, there will be something useful too that may lead you to a topic idea.


We all make lists, shopping lists, wish lists, to do lists, so this is generally an easy way to generate ideas. One strategy is to start with a general topic idea and then list everything you can think of about it and then grab a word or phrase that is interesting to you and use it to start a second list.

Another avenue is to start a list of opposites, writing down any words that represent the opposite of your topic idea.

The Mindmap

Also known as webbing or clustering. The goal is to put down your ideas in any random fashion and then group or link them together. You minght start by writing a topic ideas in the middle and then adding any related ideas around it. Once you're done see if you can group together any of your ideas around a central theme.

Try these and other ways of brainstorming at any point in the research process to turn on great ideas.