Concept Mapping: Topic Organization for Literature Reviews

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Scholarship of Teaching and Learning


The Literature Review is an essential component of the research report, yet the search for appropriate foundational resources and related research is often challenging for the scholar. The problem is greater than acquiring the basic skills needed to recognize and find research literature. Most learners don’t really even know what literature they need. Typically, they begin by trying to find the very project they have proposed. They are frustrated to find either too little or too much material in the research literature. In reality, the scholar should be looking for something he hopes does not exist!

The Literature Review needs to demonstrate the scholar’s knowledge of his field and orient his proposed project within the existing research, proving a research gap or need. Concept mapping can help scholars place their ideas within the framework of related scholarly research, direct them to appropriate databases and resources, and either verify the need for their study or provide information necessary to refine the research topic.

The session will include the rationale for concept mapping, discussion of examples from presenter experience, suggestions for the librarian’s role in the process, and opportunity for audience participation and sharing.


Presented at the 2013 Annual Conference of the Association of Christian Librarians, June 2013, Point Loma Nazarene University, San Diego, CA.

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