Research Circles – A Great Research Tool

Research Circles – The Greatest Research Tool

15 November 2017


If you’ve ever conducted research which involves dozens of articles and/or books, then you know that sometimes the managing of such sources can be a hassle.

Realizing this, I began to do something which assists in the visualization of sources and the relationships among sources: research circles.

Now, the term “research circle” is a term I devised. There may be a formal name and it may be conducted by other people, but the idea and name were a result of independent origin (that is, I have not seen this being done elsewhere)

So, what is a research circle? All is revealed below!

Research Circles

  • A physical visualization of sources involved in research
  • In the form of a circle
  • Reveals relations among sources and among ‘source families’

How to Create a Research Circle


  • At least 10+ Printed Sources (The more the better!)
  • An area where you can comfortably move and place your books



  1. Place the sources on the ground side by side without any rhyme or rhythm.
  2. Focus on one source and establish (in your mind) a general category which that source may fall (example: economics)
  3. Attempt to find another source which falls into that same category. If no other source falls into the category you have chosen, generalize that category or choose another category (or choose another source and go back to that one later).
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until every book is placed in a category (if there are a few books which cannot be placed in any category, put those books in they’re own categories.

What you have done here is organize your sources into general categories. They are now much easier to manage and the relationships among sources are clear.

PART II (Informational Visual Diagram Below)

NOTE: If this part is difficult to follow along, there are pictures below which may be very helpful.

  1. In the form of a circle, place any foundational texts (sources which are the founding sources on the topic. An example may be a source by Sigmund Freud if the general research topic is psychology) on the top layer of the circle.
  2. Place any groups of sources which are derived or relate to those sources on layers below the first layer.
  3. Continue steps 1-2 until all groups have been placed.
  4. When all the groups of sources have been placed, observe the groups and see if any of the groups contain 2 or more sources which are subcategories/subsets of the larger group. If so, place these sources below the group on another layer.
  5. When all subset groups have been placed, place any supplemental sources on the left, right, and bottom of the circle. These sources aren’t related to the ones at the top of the circle, but they still add to the research.
  6. Place any sources which demonstrate research methods/practices on the bottom layer (below the supplemental sources).
  7. Your research circle is now complete! Take a picture of your circle and you may now observe the relations between sources in a tangible way.

After all the steps are completed, you will notice that a visual ‘universe’ has been created where all of your sources are linked to each other. It is now much easier to visualize your sources and create digital models of the relations between the sources.

There are a few other ways of forming your research circles, but this is the best and simplest method.

Hopefully this will assist you in your current and future research endeavors!

If you have any questions or suggestions, please comment below or contact me at

-Jesus Capo Jr

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