We all know the feeling of staring at a blank page in Microsoft Word, waiting for the ideas to come.
It doesn’t matter whether you have an assignment due in two months or two hours, writer’s block can strike at any time.
While you shouldn’t wait until the last minute for the pressure to kick in, there are plenty of ways to get your creative juices flowing in no time.
Here are five incredible and not-your-average ways that you can use to brainstorm ideas for your next research paper:
1. Getting Creative With Your Internet Research
When it comes to searching the internet, most of us are pretty stuck in our ways. We type a few things in Google and hope something magical pops up and inspires us to new heights.
But there are myriad ways you can improve your search. The easiest way is to use a VPN.
What is a VPN? A VPN is a virtual private network. Not only does it increase your privacy and security online, but they also have tons of other great perks — and a big one is doing research.
With a VPN, you can change your server location to make it seem as if you’re browsing from a different location.
Let’s say you’re doing a research paper on England. You can switch to a UK server and benefit from local and much more relevant search results.
Likewise, you can use VPNs to bypass region blocks and network restrictions that may be preventing you from accessing the open internet. Talk about a total win-win.
2. Reverse Brainstorming
Everyone knows the familiar process of brainstorming ideas, usually writing one down on a piece of paper and seeing where it takes you.
This flips the classic formula on its head. Rather than using brainstorming to solve a problem, you use it to create one.
Ask yourself, “how could we cause this” and work backward from there.
You’ll be surprised not only at all the ideas you generate, but you may even find some inspiration to come up with your solution.
Put the power of the crowd at your disposal. By crowdsourcing your ideas, you’ll be able to get a variety of perspectives and views on a given subject.
But you have to do a better job than asking your friends, “Do you have any ideas about this topic?”
Instead, you can create quizzes, surveys, or use other tools to not only receive input but also have data points that might be useful later for your research.
If you have some time, use social media and the internet to extend your scope further. This will let you uncover the true breadth of different viewpoints out there on just about any topic!
4. SWOT Analysis
SWOT analysis is often used in business but can be equally helpful in the academic world. SWOT divides ideas into strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and it’s super effective for stimulating collaborative analysis.
What are the strengths? Are there any weaknesses? It doesn’t always fit perfectly with every topic, so you have to be creative about deploying it.
For example, if you were writing a historical paper, you might put yourself in the shoes of someone living at the time.
Or you can imagine being a pivotal decision-maker to get a better look inside the way he or she may have been thinking.
5. Rapid Ideation
Sometimes a little pressure can help you think on your feet. That’s because you don’t spend too much time filtering or over-analyzing.
With rapid ideation, you set up a context for an idea like the topic, deadlines, audience, etc. Then you set a time limit (usually 5-15 minutes is good) to write as many things as possible without worrying about filtering your ideas.
Let yourself write down whatever you want. There is no wrong answer here.
The awesome part about this style is it’s super flexible and can be used for any topic, individual and group work, and across different mediums like whiteboards, pen, and paper, basically anything.
As good as traditional brainstorming is, this style is the best way to get active and maybe reveal something you’d have never thought of before.
5 Ways To Take Your Brainstorming Skills to The Next Level
Brainstorming is a fantastic way to come up with new ideas, discover alternatives, uncover logical flaws, and work towards creativity.
The next time you’re sitting around waiting for inspiration to strike, try out one of these strategies to see how well they can work for you.