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 are looking at the big question of the use of patterns and colors in animal communication. To answer this question, we need to deconstruct it again.
If we break it down into either patterns and colors, we can look for specific pieces of information that will answer the larger question once we begin research. None of the items in green can completely answer our question. When we answer them together, our big question comes closer to an answer.
Your concept map can also serve as a rough draft for your essay outline.