Brainstorming Strategy: Asking Questions

Brainstorming is the process by which ideas are produced using techniques like concept mapping, free-writing, etc. Choosing a topic can be a difficult process when starting an assignment, writing a paper, or working on an oral presentation. Brainstorming can be used to choose a topic or narrow down a more broad topic.

ASKING QUESTIONS

WHO

  • Who are the important / influential people (artists, designers, critics, writers, philosophers etc.) involved with my topic? This could also be a group or organization rather than an individual. 
  • Who is the audience or end user?

WHAT

  • What are some examples of this topic? A work of art, building, film, product, service, etc.? 
  • What is it made of, what does it look like, what style is it? 
  • What are the creator’s aims, goals or concerns?

WHEN

  • What time period(s) are appropriate to this topic? 
  • Has it been around for a long time, or is it new? 
  • How did it originate? 
  • If it is historical, what are the important milestone dates in its history?

WHERE

  • Is it tied to a specific country, state, city or geographic area? 
  • Has it been relocated to multiple places and if so, where? 
  • What is the importance of place to my topic?

HOW

  • Has this topic/idea/work influenced others? 
  • How does it relate to the larger culture or context?

WHY

  • Is this topic/idea important–to others, and to me?

Information adapted from the GVSU Libraries Subject Guides.

MEET WITH A CONSULTANT

Have other questions? Research consultants can help! We specialize in brainstorming topics, finding sources, reading scholarly materials, and evaluating research. 

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