One way of exploring your topic is by using concept mapping. In this video, the person is determining a topic for a paper, and exploring the relationship between college sucess and another topic. View this video to learn more.
Sample concept map/brainstorm
Stanton was a former telegraph executive; Stanton was part of the War Department; Stanton advocated for its use
Telegraph was conceived in 1832 by Morse; obtained help from several others of importance; received grant from Congress in 1843; sent 1st telegraph in 1844
Associate Press grew in stature by using telegraph for news reports during War
Two main telegraph lines pre-U.S. Civil War: American Telegraph North-South; Western Union East-West. American Telegraph lines disrupted during the war.
Railroads - Gould - and Vanderbuilt competed with telegraph
Union - more trained people, more equipment, more supplies and lines
Confederates - started earlier, fewere people, fewer supplies, also used "Wig-Wag" flags; shortage of line led to less use - used a train/line system
Spying on each other - disrupting communications - sabotage - encryption
A thesis statement is a declarative sentence that asserts the position a paper will be taking. This statement should be both specific and arguable. Generally, the thesis statement will be placed at the end of the first paragraph of your paper. The remainder of your paper will support this thesis.
A strong thesis statement provides the reader with a roadmap. It tells them where you are going, and how you plan to get there.
Thesis statement: Lincoln's decisions and actions during his first week in office precluded a peaceful resolution to the issue of slavery.
Thesis statement: The telegraph played a major role in the Civil War.
Thesis statement: Florida was actually the opening gambit in the Civil War, NOT Fort Sumter.
Example of a bad Thesis statement:
Lincoln's cabinet shaped and influenced America's politics, government, geography, and history.
Create an outline using a logical flow.
For example, if your topic were the Telegraph during the U.S. Civil War and your thesis statement was: The telegraph played a major role in the Civil War. You have to support that Thesis.
Even though Stanton is part of the concept map, the Thesis does not focus on Stanton, so you will not necessarily focus on Stanton immediately.
Fact One: The Union was better supplied - trained people, raw materials
Fact Two: Lincoln's adoption of the technology
Fact Three: Encryption and sabotage
Fact Four: Battles
I. Thesis statement
II. Intro to Telegraph and its uses pre-Civil War
III. Stanton and Lincoln's interest in telegraph
IV. Use by War Department
V. Reasons why the Union used telegraph more successfully than Confederates
VI. Review thesis statement using a summary of supporting information
a. draw conclusion