Skip to Main Content


This LibGuide connects you to library resources and information to increase your skills, confidence, and knowledge in all aspects of nursing research, evidence-based practice, and scholarly communication.

What is a Concept Map?

Concept maps are graphical, visual diagrams designed to show relationships of concepts within a specific knowledge domain (Novak, 2004). They are used in nursing and other academic and professional disciplines. The creation of a concept map is a common nursing assignment, especially in graduate programs. The resources here are meant to assist you in understanding the theory behind concept maps and how to create one. 

As defined by Novak (2004): "Concept maps are tools for organizing and representing knowledge. They include concepts, usually enclosed in circles or boxes of some type, and relationships between concepts or propositions, indicated by a connecting line between two concepts. Words on the line specify the relationship between the two concepts" (p. 15). 

Image: Erich ParkerCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons,

Reference: Novak, J.D. (2004). Concept maps and how to use themINCOSE Insight6(2), 15-16.

The following information and resources on this page can help you build a concept map of your own:

Readings (Articles and Book Chapters) on Concept Mapping

Full-Text Readings Available from the UToledo Libraries

Please note: Some of the following readings may be older than others, however the topic of concept mapping is relatively timeless and the content in these older publications can still be applied today. 

Beitz J.M. (1998). Concept mapping: Navigating the learning processNurse Educator23(5), 35–41.

Doenges, M.E., Murr, A.C., & Moorhouse, M.F. (2019). Concept or mind mapping to create and document the plan of care. (2019). In Nursing Diagnosis Manual: Planning, Individualizing & Documenting Client Care (6th Edition) (Vol. 6th, pp. 21–27). F.A. Davis Company/Publishers.

Mueller A., Johnston M., & Bligh D. (2001). Mind-mapped care plans: A remarkable alternative to traditional nursing care plansNurse Educator26(2), 75–80.

Novak, J.D. (2004). Concept maps and how to use them. INCOSE Insight6(2), 15-16.

Novak, J.D. & Cañas, A.J. (2008). The Theory Underlying Concept Maps and How to Construct and Use Them. Technical Report, Institute for Human and Machine Cognition.

Free Concept Mapping Tools & Software

Video Tutorials

Learn the basics of what concept maps are and how to create them: 

Learn how to create a professional-looking concept map with free Cmap software

Learn how to use tools in Microsoft Word to create a concept map: