• Put down everything that comes to mind on the topic as quickly as you can. Don’t criticize or edit your ideas
  • Also brainstorm any questions you can think of, concerning the topic
  • Then look at your ideas--what ideas link with others?  What ideas particularly interest you? What questions would you like to explore?


Main idea: William Morris, nineteenth century artist

This writer has put down a few initial ideas about the artist--they are not extensive but they give scope to develop further.

  • British artist
  • wallpaper designs--flowers, animals
  • popular now
  • 19th century--Victorian style
  • connected with Socialist cause
  • knew other painters
  • went to Oxford
  • connected with printing in some way

Mapping: a non-linear, interconnected way of brainstorming 

  • Write your subject or topic in the center of the page.
  • Branch out from the center by brainstorming an idea related to the topic.
  • Explore this idea further by branching to other ideas.
  • When you reach the end of one branch, go back into the middle to generate a new idea and make it a new branch to explore.
  • When you finish, look at the map. If a particular area seems to grab your attention or has the potential to develop more, create a new map, this time putting that branch’s key idea in the center. See how much more you can explore that topic. 

Free wrting: a technique that captures your flow of thought

  • Start writing and let your ideas flow as if you were talking about the topic.
  • Write quickly without worrying about correctness; do not reject or edit any ideas
  • Read what you have written and see what ideas you came up with.
  • Pick out and underline key sentences and phrases. Using these, write a sentence (or more) to summarize the most important things you said about the topic.


Brainstorm around your topic by asking yourself the journalists’ questions:

  • Who?
  • What?
  • When?
  • Where?
  • Why?
  • How?


  • Talk aloud to yourself, or find someone to listen to you.
  • Jot down your ideas in point form.


Speak to others about your topic--gather opinions, observations and specialized information.

Researching in the library

Use CLUES, databases, ask the Research Librarian for help or use the “Live Chat” service.

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