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Generate and Refine Ideas


Brainstorming is a technique you can try by yourself or with friends or coworkers. You can begin brainstorming with paper and pencil or at a computer. You also can record your thoughts as you verbalize them and then make a list of them. Basically, you begin by making a list of ideas as you or others think of them. Write down names, subjects, places, events, and whatever else comes to mind. Don’t “reject” any idea in a brainstorming session—write all ideas down, even if they may seem silly or unrelated. Spend about twenty minutes making the list. You can then go though the list, by yourself or with the group, and consider the ideas-- arranging, organizing, adding, or eliminating them.

One way to begin brainstorming is with a question since you may not be familiar with the subject. In the example below, the group spent a few minutes brainstorming about how violence is portrayed in the media for a group research paper assignment.

From here, the group could further consider these main ideas and decide on a topic for a research paper.