Research for the Literature Review

Research for the Literature Review



As you begin your
capstone research, there are a few things you want
to keep in mind so that you're not making extra
work for yourself. To introduce you
to the big picture, we'll talk about the purpose
of the literature review, what it means to be looking
for a gap, research as strategic exploration,
and flexibility. Your literature review
has several purposes. You're demonstrating that
you're an expert on the topic, you're synthesizing the current
conversation surrounding the topic, and by
doing this you're showing how your
study contributes to that conversation. You may have a niche topic of
great interest to you, which may make for a good dissertation
topic or it may not. Go in and explore the
literature surrounding your area of interest to see
what's out there already. Is your niche topic
going to fit nicely in the existing conversation? If yes, great. If not, you'll have to consider
how to modify your topic, so that it's clearly filling a
gap in the existing research. That problem at work
that's driving you crazy may not be the best
dissertation project. You might have to
let it go for now, find a workable
dissertation topic, and then fix that thing at
work after you've finished, when you have a doctorate
in front of your name. Think of it this way: you're
looking for a gap, not the Grand Canyon. Someone has to be at least
tangentially interested in your research
project as it relates to their own research or
their professional challenges. Searching as
strategic exploration. There will be surprises. You'll be feeling
uncomfortable, not everyone is going to agree
with your point of view, and that's expected. You're not a journalist proving
a point, you're a scholar. You're supposed to be finding
all points of view, which you will either respectfully
disagree with or use to back up your argument. Ambiguity is an integral
part of scholarly discourse. That's why we keep
doing research, because nothing is
clearly black and white. Dialogue, debate,
and disagreement are all part of inquiry. As you continue to
explore and be surprised, you'll have to
adjust your thinking. Sometimes you have to
adjust your problem statement and the questions
that you're asking. Be open minded about change. If your topic isn't
working, you can tweak it. Change can seem like an
overwhelming amount of work, but inflexibility can lead
you into digging yourself a very deep hole. Engaging with the research
that's already out there requires adaptability. Flexibility is key. So remember, you're
establishing your expertise. You're synthesizing the
current conversation. And by doing this,
you're showing how your study contributes
to that conversation. While you're not writing
a comprehensive history of your topic, you do have to
know who the key players are and have been over time. You also have to know
what the seminal works are on your topic, so don't
totally avoid the old stuff. You'll need some of it. When you start feeling as
though you've lost your way, you can ask yourself
these questions: what is the current
conversation in the field related to my topic? Who are the major authors? How does my study
fit or not fit within the current conversation,
and what does my study add to that conversation? If you have questions, be
sure to use Ask A Librarian. We're really
friendly and helpful. And you can always book an
appointment with a librarian. Most people find that spending
a little time with one of us really helps them get on
track as they're working on their literature review.

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