According to Product Design, a concept map, or mind map is a diagram used to represent ideas linked to, and arranged radially around, a central key word or idea.
Mind mapping involves writing down a central idea and thinking up new and related ideas, which radiate out from the center. By focusing on key ideas, and then looking for branches out and connections between the ideas, you can map out your knowledge in a manner that will help reframe your knowledge.
When you take the time to concept map your topic, you're breaking your research into smaller, more manageable parts.
In my example we can see that A. Philip Randolph's life was extraordinary. He was not only an active and influential socialist, but was a outspoken supporter of workers rights, and a Civil Rights activist that worked with Dr. Martin Luther King. Each of these portions of his life were significant, and a possible topic of exploration for a research paper.
Your concept map can also serve as a rough draft for your essay outline.