parent nodes: [mental picture]


One very traditional method of generating ideas and insights is that of using topics, or categories of ideas, first discussed by the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle.

Aristotle's topics are as follows:


How are you going to set about defining the problem? This is not to be confused with simply copying out a definition from a dictionary, but involves setting it in relation to the academic field.

Comparison and contrast

How are you going to anticipate the predictable inferences of your reader? How is it similar to what they might expect, and how is it different? This might be a way of establishing the relationship of your argument to the rhetorical situation surrounding the essay.

Cause and effect

What is the relationship between the key issues raised in the question?

Support from evidence

How does your essay relate to the secondary literature? What sources are you going to refer to? A review of the literature might contribute to this aspect of your essay.