How to Use a Mind Map to Prepare Your Research Proposal

Plan out and finish your research proposal in no time using a mind map. Learn how to prepare it by following the steps described in this article. The examples generated by a mind mapping tool define each step.

Mind mapping is a great tool to help you come up with your research proposal. The mind map will guide you through the process of research proposal preparation and even the whole study with less effort as you become more systematic in your approach. It will help you plan out in detail those things that you want done within a specified period and at the same time, monitor your progress.

How does mind mapping work? To those who are not familiar with this excellent tool that has many applications, the following example is given to show how it works.

The mind map example was generated using a free mind mapping software called XMind. You may download this free tool for your specific operating system in The free mind mapping software works in Linux, Windows and Mac. The XMindPro/Plus has more features but you can make do with the free one to familiarize yourself on how a mind mapping software works.

Mind Mapping as a Tool in Research Proposal Preparation

Let’s say you already have finished most of the required subjects in your chosen course and is now faced with the task of preparing a research proposal. You can come up with your mind map by following the three steps outlined below. You may do this without XMind using a clean sheet of paper, marking pen, and a set of colored pencils.

Step 1. Identify your main goal.

Since you intend to prepare your research proposal, your goal will be “Prepare Research Proposal.” Type in XMind as the central idea or write in bold strokes at the center of the paper.

Step 2. Figure out what major activities you should do to prepare the research proposal.

Preparing your research proposal involves at least three things. These are:

  1. prepare the research title for approval
  2. build your conceptual framework
  3. prepare the method/methodology section

You may write the introduction later when your topic becomes familiar to you. You may add more items in the list such as a section on the expected contents of your results and discussion section, bibliography, among others.

Link each major activity to the central idea using a line, preferably a curved one. Allocate enough space between these major activities to make way for the more detailed activities. XMind does this automatically when you add a subtopic to the main idea.

Step 3. Specify those things that you will actually do.

Under each of the major activities, specify those things that you will actually do. These should be action statements. Link these statements with lines to the corresponding major activities. In XMind, just add the specific activities as subtopics.

For example, you might want to include the following specific actions under the major activities in the preparation of your research proposal:

  1. Prepare the research title
    • Identify the research topic which will be the focus of the study
      • brainstorm
      • talk to experts
      • conduct an informal interview
  2. Build the conceptual framework
    • Write the literature review
      • download online literature
      • photocopy relevant materials
      • select theory to test
      • identify research gaps
    • Prepare the research paradigm
      • identify the dependent variable/s
      • identify the independent variable/s
      • figure out the statistical test to use (if quantitative analysis is required)
      • write the hypothesis of the study
  3. Prepare the method section
    • Data collection
      • prepare the research instruments
      • identify the population of the study
      • determine the sampling frame
      • pre-test the questionnaire
    • Statistical analysis
      • name the corresponding statistical analysis to be used for each problem statement

Output of the Mind Mapping Software

Following the steps above, the corresponding examples for each step were arrived at using the mind mapping software. Below is the mind map output that aided the preparation of the given examples (click the figure to enlarge).

research proposal mind map

You can add more or change items in the mind map as well as define a time frame for each of the activities that you have identified. In so doing, you will be able to make a rough estimate how long you should be able to prepare your research proposal. If you have a fixed period within which you have to submit your draft proposal, you can allocate specific time periods for the accomplishment of each activity. Thus, you can submit your proposal on time. 

© 2013 September 14 P. A. Regoniel