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Webinar Transcripts

Reviewing the Literature and Incorporating Previous Research

Presented August 24, 2016

View the recording

Last updated 1/5/2017


Visual: The webinar opens with a main pod for the PowerPoint slides on the left, and captioning and files pods side-by-side at the top right corner of the screen. The bottom left has a poll for where participants are in their programs. The bottom right has a chat pod for participants to introduce themselves. The PowerPoint slide is titled “Housekeeping” and details how to use the webinar features that Beth discusses.

Audio: Beth: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us today. Let me start the recording here. All right. Welcome to our literature review webinar for today. My name is Beth Nastachowski, the manager of multimedia writing instruction for the Writing Center and I’m going to get us started by going over a couple quick housekeeping notes before I hand the session over to Dr. Basil Considine, our presenter for today.

The first thing to note is I have started the recording for this session so if you have to leave for any reason or if you would like to come become and review the session or any of the webinars that the Writing Center presents, please do make sure to look in the webinar archive. It will be there probably by tomorrow afternoon.

Also note that we have lots of ways for to you interact with us today so, Basil has a couple of chat pods I’ll be using and we'll also be opening up a Q and A box when we go to our presentation layout, as well. We do encourage you to interact with us today, to ask questions, make comments. Myself and my colleague, Jenny, another dissertation editor is going to be monitoring the Q and A box and we're happy to answer any questions that you have.

Also note that at the end of the session, if you have additional questions or sometimes at the end of these webinars, we get lots of questions and we aren't able to get to them all, we do encourage to you email us at

If you have any technical issues, let us know in The Q and A box, I’ll try to help you as much as I can but there is a help button at the top right-hand corner of the screen and that's the best place to go for any significant technical issues. Basil, with that, I’ll hand it over to you.


Visual: The webinar title slide shows Basil’s information

Audio: Basil: Thank you, Beth. Just to confirm since we're having a hand-off of speakers, can everyone in the chat rooms let me know that you can hear me loud and clear still. If you have any problems, if you are wondering why there is a silence, then you won't hear this at all, but, good, looks like most of you can hear.


Visual: The screen layout shifts with a main pod for the PowerPoint slides on the left and captioning, Q&A, and files pods stacked on the right side of the screen. Basil opens the “Resources” handout and scrolls through as he discusses this document.

Audio: So quick little orientation. As we go along, we'll change the layout a little bit, but I’ll call your attention to, now, above the chat window where you're typing in, where you're joining us from and that you can hear me and everything, there is a "files" pod. In that pod, there are a couple things of interest that I’ll refer to later. These include a number of handouts, handy things like this document here that just brought up on the left-hand side that tells you who to contact for different things, and especially for those of you who are just starting writing your capstone process and some of these will be especially of interest to you as you proceed through writing, planning or revising your lit review.

Keep in mind that we have this handy dandy chart at the bottom of the second page saying if you are at such and such a stage, here's who you should be looking to because the resources that you have available does expand as you go through the process, so, for example, if you are just getting started, you finished your course work, you'll primarily be working with your chairperson but you're certainly welcome to contact the library for research support, any faculty mentors that you have from your course work stage and if you have questions about specific research methodology things that you don't want to discuss with your chair, the sent for research quality or CRQ has office hours available.

So just a little orientation. We have several other resources in the files pod. You will have an opportunity to download those throughout. All you have to do is select the file you want from the pod and hit "download file." With no further ado, let's continue on.


Visual: The file closes and the title slide opens in its place. Basil’s photo is in the bottom right corner of the screen next to the files pod.

Audio: I’m Dr. Basil Considine, a contributing faculty member -- I’m here to talk to you about literature reviews.


Visual: The next slide “Learning Outcomes” opens. Four textboxes with outcomes are shown. The first has an auxiliary label on the left “Start on the sentence and paragraph level.” The next two are grouped together with the label “Then we’ll talk overall organization.” The last outcome does not have an auxiliary label. Basil reviews and discusses the learning outcomes.

Audio: And here are the goals for the session. We'll start and talk about some of the elements that make up a good lit review and by good lit review, I mean one that fulfills its purpose. Literature are written for a very specific purposes. Your study is not like other studies, if nor nothing else because you're writing for a different context and a student that came before didn't have the benefit of that study having been done and published. So what you write will change depending on what you're studying and what you're aiming to do in that particular part of your literature review.

We'll also talk about making sense of what you get, the literature you ever had in your research, write up in notes and we'll talk about how to turn that into summaries and into paraphrases and work that into paragraphs that accomplish the things that you need and create a literature review that your committee members look at and say, okay, that makes sense. That does what I need, time to move on, which is the goal for most of the dissertation and doctoral study writing that we do. To produce a document that meets all expectations and allows you to proceed.

We'll also talk about the general purposes and goals of the literature review and how this fits into the process of planning the document and figuring out what you talk about, what you discuss, where, and we'll do a little bit about the resources for locating literature for research aid and other things like that.


Visual: The slide and screen layout change. The Q&A and caption pods are side-by-side in the top right corner. A chat pod opens below them and the files pod is not visible. The slide shows the chat prompt that Basil discusses.

Audio: Now, at this point, let's do a quick poll here. Please go ahead and write in the chat box what you are most worried about when it comes to writing your literature review. Now, if you're already at the capstone writing stage and you've already started on lit review, please answer this, too. If you haven't gotten it and you're not sure what literature review is, tell us that. What that does is helps give me an example of what sorts of levels of detail to go into in different part of the presentation, and about how much detail or specific examples.

For example, a member attending here mentioned they were concerned about have they saturated your sources and that's something you talk about in your lit review, first, when you explain what you searched and how and how many results you got for that but also when you're making different points. In general, three sources is good for supporting a particular point. More than that is not helpful. If it's something contentious, then you think one might not be enough, three is good. All right, thank you.

Some other things I’m seeing coming in here, people talking about how to expand on the contents of research article of which I would say, the important thing is to realize you're not trying to summarize everything that was said, you're extracting particular pieces of information that are relevant to the specific topic that you are addressing and the problems you're trying to solve.

Literature review matrix, just as an FYI, we'll have a slide down later in the deck that gives some sample literature review ma tricks that you can download and fill in. If limited research exists -- if you're having trouble finding information, the first thing you want to do is contact the Walden University librarians to do a detailed search with their help to make sure that what you're looking for generally isn't out there, and there are ways to adapt around it but the important thing is, once you've done due diligence, to document what's going on.

Now, there are more things here than I have time to speak to right now but don't worry, you can use the Q and A box that you see at the top, just a little... [audio cut out] you can use the Q and A box to direct specific questions to my colleagues, to Beth and Jenny, who will be able to answer your specific questions. You've given me a lot of information to use in tailoring this presentation to all 87 of you who are here today and we'll continue with the main presentation now.


Visual: The layout reverts back to show the stacked pods to the right of the slide. The slide still shows the chat prompt while Basil discusses a question from one student.

Audio: But actually I will answer one more question as we go on to the next slide. There was a question that someone typed in asking do you have to remember all the information in the literature review when you go into your oral defense? The answer is no. You should have a broad understanding of what's out there. You should be familiar with the key literature on that, but you're not expected to remember absolutely everything. Saying I have to check my notes or, yes, I have a source on that, I need to look it up, that is fine. You don't want to do that when they're asking basic questions about it but for detailed things like I remember there was a study about five years ago that said that, that's an appropriate level of detail for the oral defense. All right.


Visual: The slide “Literature and Doctoral Capstone Study” opens. This slide lists five bulleted key points about the literature review in doctoral capstones. Basil reviews and discusses these points.

Audio: So let's talk about the literature that you discussed in the doctoral capstone study and how. First, why do you use literature in the first place? Well, the first thing is that by citing and otherwise making reference to what other people have written before you, you're able to appeal to and tap into their scholarly authority.

For example, it is a very different statement if you say, for example, walleye are the best fish in the world. Walleye is the state fish of Minnesota, by the way. Walleye are the best fish in the world, period. That's my claim. Now I -- if there's any question about that, I have to defend it and in fact I have to give my argumentation, well, it tastes really good, it's healthy, things like that. On the other hand, if someone else has written about walleye and made the claim they're the best fish in the world for whatever criteria, I can make reference to that and say, according to so-and-so, writing in this year, walleye are the best fish in the world because x, y, z, and by making reference to them, I avoid the need to make this elaborate lengthy argument because someone else has covered that and I’m able to use multiple piece he is of literature in another study about walleye and use this to give verification of this point or this claim that walleye are so great.

Another thing that you want to do is to address the broader audience because people who come to read a capstone study, your dissertation or doctoral study, sometimes they're looking at the exact thing that you are researching. More often, they're looking at something related and so understanding the context how your topic fits within the larger discussion is essential. If you're doing the first study on something that, first of all, it will be the first study on something generally but if you're doing the first study on that specific group or focus, it's important to know, well, has this been study similarly by other authors with other populations or in a different industry? Or to take a topic with veterans who are leaving the U.S. armed services, well, how does your study align with those? Are you using similar method, are you following up on another one?

All these are things that you would want to both read the literature that's out there and to reference it and describe it in your study. Keep in mind, you're not trying to say everything that there is as, however, you do want to say what is most relevant to your topic. People who are doing work on that and who are reading your study need to know.

Now, academic authority. People who are doing research in an area that hasn't exactly been studied before often come to us with questions saying, well, I feel like I’m just making this up as I go, and the answer is, well, hold on. Talk with our librarians and see if you're actually starting from scratch. The answer is almost certainly going to be no, that you will find either a theory that suggests here is a course of action to follow, that you would find a study on something more or less comparable that you can adapt, and preliminary research that says this would be a good next step. And by situating yourself within the stream of what has been done before, you established your own authority as an informed writer and researcher working on this topic.


Visual: The words “Use Citations” appears in bold font after the key points appeal to scholarly authority, verify and justify assertions, and establishing academic authority. Basil discusses how citations support these points.

Audio: Now, there is a very simple way to do most of these things, your citations. If you're appealing to scholarly authority, don't give a statement like, lots of authors say that this is a good idea. And I will point out, I have actually, as a committee member, seen drafts come in that way. I’ll get right back to you and say, all right, give me some supporting evidence. How do you show the supporting evidence? Well, start with citations. Same thing with verifying and justifying your assertions and justifying your authority, tell us where this information is coming from. Now, in most cases, as the ideas, the data that you'll be looking at will be coming from scholarly sources that have been peer-reviewed. In some cases, the latest, greatest research will have gone through not the full peer-review process but the partial process that goes into a dissertation, so that's okay but you want the book of your sources to be peer-reviewed and recent.

Sometimes you'll have sources where, for example, if you're doing anything involving government data, the authoritative source is usually the government agency. For example, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs has the latest, greatest statistics on anything to do with U.S. armed forces veterans. So although that's not a scholarly source, per se, it is certainly an appropriate source that you would want to make reference in establishing the authority of what you're doing, that you're creating this grounded academic argument.


Visual: The words “Analysis & Synthesis” appear after the key points address the broader audience providing background and context. Basil discusses this.

Audio: Now, about how to do the addressing the broader audience and what kind of background and context and interpretation you add. These are things that we call analysis and synthesis. Now, I've done a complete webinar on this that you're welcome to watch later but, in short, the analysis is when you discuss the evidence you compare it, this study found this, this study found another thing or these two studies found the same results or similar results, and since this is when you start putting all this stuff together and say, okay, well, then, here's what it means. Like these things together suggest this is a good idea to investigate.


Visual: The next slide “Incorporating Literature in Your Doctoral Capstone” opens. This slide shows an outline of how a Literature Review chapter is often organized. Basil discusses the sections.

Audio: So brief outline of how a literature review is often structured. There are many different ways of doing it, and different ways of topics but here's one way that it can be done. First, you want the introduction. Okay, give us whatever we need to make sense of what your reader is looking at. Tell them this is the review of literature for your study investigating this thing.

Background, whether you have a formal section or just a paragraph or two, that depend on your particular study. Some require more background to really understand what you're discussing and some require less.

The theoretical or conceptual framework that you use, why is this before these other sections? Not because you can't have a detailed discussion of the literature on that down in the body of your literature review but because whatever theoretical or conceptual framework that you use has a very strong influence on how you interpret the data, how you interpret the research that you go over and discuss. So you want to tell your reader how you're going to be looking at things and sooner rather than later.

Evidence of the problem, again, usually this is fairly brief, if at the start of your literature review chapter or section, and what you want to make it clear, okay, here's something that does need to be investigated because here's the stuff. And then dive into the body of the lit review.


Visual: The next slide “Using Literature in Doctoral-Level Writing” opens. Two rules: cite early and often, and use your own words are bulleted with additional details below each. The words “paraphrase” and “synthesis” are hyperlinked in the details for “use your own words.” A textbox at the bottom right corner of the slide has hyperlinks for webinars on these aspects of writing. Basil reviews and discusses all of this.

Audio: Some general rules. Cite. As you are writing, in fact, as you are writing out the outline that I hope you use as you start planning your lit review, make sure that you give notes on where this information is coming from. I would recommend keeping track of not just the author and the date but also the page number. Why? Because when you're actually looking at that source, that's very fast to record and it saves a lot of time if you have to go back because your professor says, hold on, I think you've misunderstood that or say more about this. If you can turn to not just Jones 2011 but Jones, 2011, page 62, that saves you a whole lot of time going back and forth. And it is recommended but not required that you include the page numbers in any citations for paraphrases, if you're giving direct quotes, you must have that page number, as well.

And what this does is gives a map for both your reader and yourself to find where all this staff came from. It's also useful tactic to do when you're looking at the literature to say, hum, I would like to know more about that, we'll look and see what they cited for that. Make sure as you write, you use your own words. This is both the balance of what you write and do check with your chair about your programs and your committee's expectations for quotations. Some will say maximum one per paragraph, some will say, we really don't want to see anything unless you're quoting a definition or something like that where you really need that exact text.

So check with your committee but in general, you want to have very few quotations because those quotations are other authors writing for their specific purpose and you're writing for something different. So, naturally, you need to customize the wording and through paraphrasing and more often than not, summarizing and leaving a lot of stuff out that's just not relevant to the exact thing that you're writing about.

Make sure that you add that synthesis. I see a lot of dissertations and doctoral studies come in, where you have a whole paragraph and it's all summary but there's no commentary saying, this is how this relates to the thing I’m trying to solve or there's nothing saying, well, I got these five different studies that came up with different results, what does that mean? And so make sure that you synthesize it and tell us, all right, now that I’m aware that there are these different findings, here's what the suggestion we should do next.


Visual: The next slide “Summary versus Synthesis” opens. This slide has two lists for comparison: summary and synthesis. Basil reviews the differences.

Audio: It's a good point to do a discussion of the difference between summary and synthesis. When you are summarizing, you're giving a brief description of some ideas from one or more sources. Most of the time you'll just be summarizing one, occasionally you'll be saying like three studies looked at x, y, z, or better yet, three studies looked at x, y, z and concluded this thing, parentheses and quotations. What this does is it tell your reader, oh, here's what they had to say on it.

Now, if you are writing an annotated bibliography, which is not what you should be doing for the capstone but often what you do as a prelude to the capstone, the annotated bibliography is essentially a set of notes to remind you, okay, here's the piece that I was reading and here's a summary of it so when I’m going back looking for research on this kind of stuff later, I can look through my annotated bibliography and say, oh, yes, these would be good articles to look at. That's a very different purpose than in your lit review when you are telling your reader, okay, I’m looking at the body of what's out there, here's some select things, here's my analysis and synthesis of it. Here's how it relates to what we're doing and on to the next one. So there is much less summary and much more discussion in a well-written literature review synthesizing the sources.


Visual: The next slide “Synthesis” opens. It has a circle labeled synthesis language in the lower center of the slide. Three textboxes that point to the circle show examples. Basil reads and discusses these.

Audio: Here's an example of some language. Now, this is using the broader definition of synthesis as opposed to the separate distinction between analysis and synthesis, but bear with me. So, Schwester 2013 reported results consistent with findings in Hill's 2011 and Yao's 2012 studies. So that's saying here's how this study compared to the findings of the 2011 and 2012 studies. Note that it's being precise. I would label this under the heading of analysis. It's not saying what it means, it's saying here's how they compare. Same thing with, although Mehmad suggested x, O'donnell pointed out this. It's pointing out the differences, not saying what those mean yet.


Visual: The next slide “Synthesis: Common errors” opens. Two lists are presented for comparison. The first shows the errors and the second shows analysis and synthesis. Basil reviews and discusses these errors and how to avoid them.

Audio: Now, when you're analyzing and synthesizing, there are some common mistakes that people make. One of which is the over-generalization where you say, oh, this is the case, and you don't spell out your reasoning, you don't give us citations, you leave out sets of your logic. If you just give us summaries, so-and-so found that, so-and-so found that, so-and-so found nothing, in academic American English, the style of writing that we use with APA at Walden, in academic American English, you are expected to explicitly spell out your reasoning and the connections between the information that you present. You can't just give us summary, you have to connect it.

Now, you also want to avoid using language that suggests a relationship that isn't there or is impossible to prove. Most researchers agree, first of all, you probably haven't done the breadth and depth of the literature review to make a claim like most researchers agree. You could relay so-and-so stated that most researchers agree with your citation but you don't want to make an overly broad claim like most researchers would agree. It would it take a lot of writing to do that.

These statistics are alarming. That's an interpretation, you want to stay away from that, and alarming is subjective, you also want to stay away from that.

Study x is just like study y. First, of all, that's imprecise, informal language. Second of all, that's probably over-generalizing and reductionist. So don't do that. Now, you could say, study x used similar methods to study y or study x and study y both applied this theory to look at this kind of problem, but those latter examples are grounded in specifics.

You also want to avoid having back-to-back direct quotations, both because as use of quotations generally are discouraged and if you're just giving us quotations of other people's writing with no interpretation, we don't know, do you agree with this, do you disagree? What were they writing about specifically because they've cut a lot out so just don't do that.


Visual: The layout shifts to show the chat pod below the Q&A and captioning pods. The files pod is not visible. The next slide “Common errors: Citation Salad” opens. It shows a sample paragraph that Basil reads and discusses. He then introduces the chat activity and discusses participants’ responses.

Audio: So let's look at this example here, and let me bring up this chat window again. So I’m going to read this example and the prompt for to you answer is “How could we improve this paragraph?” Author x argued that the cost of public transportation in the Midwest affected student participation in after-school activities. Author y reported that 60% of high school students in the United States relied on school buses to get home. According to author z, in a study of after-school program attendance, we're missing a comma there, by the way, most of the participants, 74%, received rides home from parents or friends. If you're really looking at this closely, we have an extra space there. So just a reminder to proofread to everyone.

But please answer the prompt in the chat window. How can we improve this paragraph? You can tell us, okay, here's what's wrong, here's what you propose to do, please type away.

And just to answer a question that came in, is there a template for lit review or outline to follow? Well, there is no one universal template for how you'll structure your literature review, the exact sections, and it will depend a little bit if you're doing a qualitative or quantitative study. What I recommend, and I’ll just put this in the chat window here, what I’ll recommend is you follow this link that I've pasted in which will take you to the Walden scholarly library where you can look at recent -- you can look at recent dissertations and doctoral studies from Walden and see how did they structure it, which is very useful if you see, oh, here's someone else who's doing grounded theory research or phenomenological study, or qualitative with this kind of size and say, oh, here's the general structure that they took which would probably follow that general outline I gave earlier, but it will give you a more specific idea of the section, division and things like that. All right.

There are a lot of people still typing but let's look and see what people have chimed in about so far. So there's no comparison. Yes, that is absolutely something that should be done. Someone chimed income the writer should add if they agree or disagree. I would say yes, with a caution. It's not so much a matter of presenting, do you agree or disagree with which one is correct because if this is the literature review, you're reviewing what people have done before but you surely want to evaluate these, evaluate rather than judge and say, okay, well, author x, for example, did they look at a similar population, did they have a large enough population to be able to draw conclusions from that kind of thing. It's not a matter of do I personally agree with attendance is better if you ride home but see what actually is the basis and does this suggest that we can draw broader or narrower conclusions, are there problems with that that undermine the results, that kind of thing.

Another comment here. The sample member. Yes, if you are discussing literature and you want to say how applicable it is, it would be very helpful to give the sample number so your reader has an idea, are we talking like thousands of students or talking, like, 6. You are to avoid what I call distracting details, which is to say giving information that is not necessary for the point you're trying to make right here. If we're discussing public transportation in the Midwest, if that's the focus of the study, then we'll probably discuss these sources and their findings in several different places throughout the literature review, and if you're discussing the sample sizes of the different studies, the literature in one spot, you won't necessarily need to give that in another one but if you start to saying, well, author y, 2012 is probably low because they only used 12 people and author z used 254, well, that's a kind of place where it would be absolutely relevant to do that.

Let's just take a moment to allow people to finish their thoughts and then we're going to move on to the next slide. Ah. Now, someone pointed out something that I think is worth repeating here, saying that there is not a clear link between author x and author y. I would say there could be but if we just go by what the writing of the example says, we're missing a connection because I’ll note that they're not using the same terminology. Cost of public transportation, is that the same thing as school buses? Well, school buses are usually public in the sense where it's publicly owned but that could also refer to just the city or county bus system. So because there's different terminology being used, it's not clear whether or not they're actually talking about the same things and that's an alignment issue. If you're referring to the same thing, use the same technology -- sorry, use the same terminology so it's explicitly clear that you are referring to the same things.


Visual: The layout stays the same but the slide is updated to show revisions. The revised version is: Multiple studies indicated a strong link between transportation availability and student engagement in extracurricular activities. Author X (2010) argued that the cost of public transportation in the Midwest affected student participation in after school activities, which was similar to findings in studies across the country. Author Y (2012) reported that 60% of high school students in the United States relied on school buses to get home, meaning that the majority of students had no alternative means of getting home if they decided to stay after regular school hours. According to Author Z (2009), in a study of after school program attendance most of the participants (74%) received rides home from parents or friends. In addition to transportation availability, researchers have noted a strong correlation between student participation in extracurricular activities and parental involvement . . . Basil reviews and discusses the changes.

Audio: So here is an example of how to clean this up. First, we want a topic sentence so it's clear what you're telling the reader and why. Like multiple studies have indicated a strong link between transportation availability and student engagement in extracurricular activities. Now you'll see that the author x sentence is the same except we have this analytical comment at the end saying which was similar to findings and studies across the country. Now, that analysis includes a claim that this is similar to finding analysis across the country which requires that we -- as the writer, you present supporting evidence and then you'll see the other text is contextualizing the other thing so it's more clear that this is evidence supporting that claim. Like about author y, meaning that the majority of students had no alternative means of getting home if they decided to study after regular school hours. Or this last statement, in addition to transportation availability, researchers have noted a strong correlation between student participation in extracurricular activity and parental involvement. So this is a transition sentence to link us unto the next paragraph, which is going to be continuing this but with a slightly different focus. The parental involvement component.

Now, there are a number of slides that we're going to gloss over faster than you might want for reasons of time. I encourage you to ask questions in the Q and A box and, remember, you will be able to download a full copy of the slides as well as our supporting materials afterwards.


Visual: The next slide “Common errors: ‘Plop’ or ‘dropped’ quotes” opens. The sample paragraph is: Many educators and community members alike have expressed frustration about the lack of financial support for arts education. In a prepared statement at a Congressional hearing on arts funding, Segars (2010) stated that “the arts and its related businesses are responsible for billions of dollars in cultural exports for this country” (para. 4), so it would be in the government’s best interest to strengthen arts education rather that allowing the funding to continue to diminish. The ABC (2012) reported that orchestra and band programs in the Pacific Northwest saw their budgets cut by over 50% in the past 5 years despite documented benefits to students and the community. Basil reads and discusses excerpts from this paragraph.

Audio: Let's move on to some other common issues. So common problem is to just drop a quote in and have, oh, the arts and its related businesses are responsible for billions of dollars in this country. We're missing a couple of things. Are we talking on the state level, the nation-wide thing? Are we in the United States, are we in Canada? I mean, Congress suggests some stuff but there are other governments that have a congress and other places that have a Pacific Northwest, too. So let's be clear about what this quote is doing in there.

Visual: The slide changes to show a reference and sample paragraph synthesizing it. The reference is: Duckworth, A. L., Quinn, P. D., & Tsukayama, E. (2012). What No Child Left Behind leaves behind: The roles of IQ and self-control in predicting standardized achievement test scores and report card grades. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104(2), 439-451.The paragraph is: We focus on middle school students in the present investigation for several reasons. First, middle school teachers are much more likely than elementary school teachers to use formal assessments (e.g., paper-and-pencil quizzes and exams), as opposed to informal observation, when determining report card grades (Brookhart, 1994; Gullickson, 1985). This transition in grading practices reflects a more general shift toward rank-ordered comparisons of students (Eccles et al., 1993). Additionally, as children enter middle school, academic performance becomes an increasingly important component of their personally valued goals and overall self-esteem (Galotti, 2005; Harter, 1985); notably, self-esteem, school engagement, and report card grades may all decrease sharply during this transition (Eccles, 2004; Eccles et al., 1993; Simmons & Blyth, 1987). At the same time, children become much more sensitive to the distinction between intelligence and effort, with heightened attention to how they compare with other students (Stipek & Douglas, 1989). In sum, middle school represents an inflection point in the nature, purpose, and interpretative consequence of the assessment of academic performance. Thus, this developmental epoch is the earliest at which we would expect a measurable and consequential rift between standardized achievement test scores and report card grades. As he reviews and discusses excerpts of this synthesis, Basil uses bold font to direct the participants’ attention.

Audio: I’m going to walk you briefly through this example here. This is taken from the article that you see here and I’m going to walk you through how, in this article's literature review, they discuss various aspects of the things we're suggesting here. I do want to explain that that first sentence, we focus on middle school students... This is using "we" to indicate these three authors here. In your studies, because you will be writing it yourself as a single author, you will not be using "we" anywhere in keeping with APA guidelines.

So the first sentence, we focus on middle school students in the present investigation for several reasons. That's a topic sentence of the paragraph. Now, to support the claim, okay, their reasons for what we do, give evidence, which you'll see is grounded in citations here. And here's the combination of evidence and analysis, this transition and grading process reflects a more general shift toward rank-ordered comparisons of students. You'll see there is a supporting citation to ground that so it's not just the student making the claim, they're saying, yep, this is also being made by... [ indiscernible ] Here's more evidence. And more evidence.


Visual: The next slide “Synthesis: Additional Resources” opens and shows several hyperlinked resources that Basil reviews.

Audio: And if you're wondering about that breakdown of the distinctions here, first of all, you'll be able to review that on the slides but also we have a set of resources here designed to discuss all these things about how you arrange this information that you're discussing in your lit review and in the rest of your document, breaking it down, okay, here's how you construct the sentences, here are the goals, here's how you check if you've got everything. By the way, the first link here is to that analysis and synthesis webinar that I mentioned earlier.


Visual: The layout changes to show the chat pod layout and the slide “Questions” is shown. At the bottom of the slide is: Up next: Overview of the literature review process and organization. Basil responds to participants’ questions.

Audio: Now, let's pause for a moment and take some questions. Does anyone have any burning questions about the materials that we've covered so far that you would like to pose? If so, type it in now. I’m going to take a look at the Q and A box and see if there's anything that my colleagues wanted me to speak to. Now is a good time to ask those questions. Might be that I say, oh, we're going to get to that later but please chime in. So you're aware in the interests of staying on schedule -- oh, excellent question. How long should your study be? This is a question that everyone would like to know and there are no firm answers because your literature review and the larger study it's part of are depending on the topic that you have selected and the narrowness or broadness of your scope. So what I recommend people do is they be highly specifically about what they're discussing and why, and that they de-limit the scope, that's drawing a box around it and saying, okay, we're looking at exactly at we'll see small business owners in this industry, in the metro Atlanta area, because although you will certainly discuss your sources involving other things, this is saying, all right, my main focus is here so the things I will discuss in-depth are those that relate exactly and specifically to this. And those that don't, we might gloss over them quickly but we won't spend a lot of time on that.

Another excellent question, how long should a paragraph be in a dissertation, and just fair warning, I’ve got to close the questions off in about 15 seconds. A good rule of thumb is five to seven sentences is to adequately discuss, present and make sense of the idea and information. Five to seven sentences, that works out to around half the paragraph. That's not an absolute rule, you can sometimes have longer ones and sometimes there is a need for longer ones, especially if you have lists but in general, five to seven paragraphs, half a page is a good maximum. If you have a -- excuse me. If you have a sentence and you're wondering how long is a reasonable sentence, excluding a list that you format as a bulleted list, say, three lines of text is a good maximum. That's around what it takes to make you run out of breath before you have to stop for air and just as you have to stop reading it, that's a place where your readers will likely start to lose focus.


Visual: The next slide “Literature Review” opens and has three bulleted points for the next section. Basil briefly reviews and discusses these.

Audio: Let's talk more about the literature review. I've said a bit about what it is but why do you do it? Well, first of all, you want to make sure that you are not doing unnecessary work. If, for example, you are studying and I’ll just pull a topic out here, if you're studying banking in a particular geographic context, if other people have already researched aspects of that that you can draw on, that's a whole lot of research and writing that you don't have to do. You'll want to read their research and to reference it and cite it but let other people save you the work of doing original research on things you don't have to because, goodness knows, we all want you to be done sooner rather than later. You'll have the whole rest of your life to do follow-up research on whatever you want but let's make your dissertation and literature review as concise as possible. Now, how do you do it? Well, we're going to spend some time on that.


Visual: The next slide “Literature Review: Definition” opens. A large circle labeled “Collection of materials on a topic” is in the center of the slide. Five ovals surround the circle and are connected by a line. Starting in the lower left, the ovals read: Conference proceedings, Internal documents (sparingly; consult with faculty), Scholarly, peer-reviewed journal articles (most common), Books, and Government documents. Basil reviews and discusses each of these.

Audio: So the literature review again is a collection -- a curated discussion of information related to your specific topic, you'll draw on a variety of documents which the emphasis should be on peer-reviewed, scholarly articles. You can contact the library if you're having trouble determining if the article is peer-reviewed, but you can also, if you're -- if the information is located in other places, the latest and greatest, if it's in government documents, sure, books, internal documents, like from a company, yes, but make sure you talk with your faculty because you want to make sure that you're not drawing too much on just one particular resource which has potential bias.

Conference proceedings are not suggested. They shouldn't be the main basis of what you're working on because conference proceedings, although there was a selection committee of some sort, it hasn't been through the full peer-reviewed process and often presents research that's in the early stages and might not have all the traits. If you have the choice between working on the -- referring to the conference proceedings version of a paper and the final version that was published in the scholarly peer-reviewed journal, go with the journal one.


Visual: The next slide “Literature Review: Purpose & Goals” opens. It has two side-by-side bulleted lists labeled Teach readers about your topic and focus (including background info) and Present full picture of topic. A textbox at the bottom of the slide says: All of this demonstrates your credibility as a researcher and author. Basil briefly discusses the information.

Audio: I’m going to gloss over this slide here but the general idea is you want to orient your reader. Okay, here's what's being done about it, here's the essential history, not the complete history but the essential history of what has been done that you need to know to understand what I’m going to tell you here. Current ideas, yes, if you are working on, say -- say you’re a nursing student and you're working on refining trash policies or on sanitary intervention, say. You want to say, okay, here's what's come out recently because this -- first you have to demonstrate that you're aware of what's come out recently that's relevant to what you're doing and also to situate that so, well, if this study found -- presents a perfectly good solution, why are you working on it? Why is it important and that might be, well, there is a perfectly good solution except it costs way too much and that's part of the justification for your study and why you're then discussing these other things that might not have as good results but are good enough, say.

Make sure that you use headings. Headings are really helpful not just for people who are reading it later, for to you keep track of what you're discussing and where, and if you're wondering, well, wait, what kind of headings should I use? Use the links that we provided earlier to look at past Walden dissertations, including the award-winning ones and look, go through the table of contents and see how they divided it. It's important to have a logical orders. I encourage you to discuss things in the same order that your reader will want to know because this is a way for you determining what exactly you present where, which ultimately leads to it being easier to find and you're writing less and, therefore, finishing faster.

Now, you don't want to exclude a source because it disagrees with you, you want to be aware of what's out there and present an argument for why you are not following a recommendation that you discuss or why you're investigating something that someone else didn't find productive result on, for example.

Saturation point. There were questions earlier about how many sources do you need to discuss for something. Saturation is when results start repeating. Sometimes there is a lot more, if it's not a disputed thing, if they're not strongly conflicting results, yeah, three sources are generally sufficient to buttress a point. If there is a lot of stuff and you find that, oh, I got six studies on this but I don't want to include all because that would take up a lot of space and be redundant, well, give us the three that best support your claim.

If you're saying this has been an issue for a long period of time, having to study in 1980, a study in 2000, a study in 2015 gives a better point than three studies in 2010, 2011 and 2012.


Visual: The next slide “Literature review: Process” opens. It shows a series of circles arranged along a clock-wise arrow. Basil briefly reviews the steps.

Audio: If you're thinking about the process, there is a lot of back-and-forth for different sections in the review but for any particular subsection of the review, you start with the locating the literature, reading it, taking notes, figuring out, okay, which pieces do I want to use and where will those go. And then still at the outline stage, grouping those, you have an idea of, oh, I’m going to discuss these in this paragraph for this purpose. And then after that, actually write the paragraphs, the sentences and paragraphs that come from your notes because if you know how things are going to fit together. That tells you how much to write and how much not to write.


Visual: The next slide “Content: Show the tip of the iceberg . . .” opens. This has a graphic depiction of an iceberg with the submerged part visible, too. The exposed part is labeled “What you write” and the submerged part is labeled “What you read.” Basil discusses this concept.

Audio: There are always be much more that you read than what you write. Remember, this is a curated presentation of selected findings from the literature.


Visual: The slide “Locating and keeping track of literature” opens. Three columns of textboxes are labeled “Search options,” “Publication types,” and “Develop a system.” Each column has appropriate tips which Basil discusses. The publication types are hyperlinked, as is Zotero. At the bottom of the slide is a textbox with an associated webinar hyperlinked.

Audio: Now, there are many different ways of doing your literature review and search. We have webinar on it, you see linked at the bottom of the slides. If you go to residency, you will see presentations where you have a panelist more or less talking about this. Please, do yourself a favor and attend that session or watch this webinar before you do it. You will save yourself a lot of time and trouble. Because there are tips on how to find things, who to talk to get help with different things, keeping track of your notes, making sure they're formatted correctly, plenty more than we have time to talk about right now.


Visual: The slide “Locating literature: Common errors” opens. It has four horizontal textboxes stacked with an x next to the left of each. Basil discusses each of the errors.

Audio: Some other common mistakes. Do not use Wikipedia and other unreliable webs. Why? Well, I could go in right now and edit any Wikipedia article to say what I wanted it to, and a lot of people do just that. Yes, many of the articles have references. No, the vetting process was not very good, very thorough, very intense. As noted, if you follow politics, any time someone runs for election, go look at their Wikipedia article history and you'll see that they've done a lot of editing on it before they announce that they're running for that office. This is true both in the United States and outside.

Don't cite textbooks, and I should specify that one of the most common books that you use in your course work, Creswell’s series of textbooks. Those are not peer-reviewed resources. If you're talking about your research method and saying this is appropriate for that, the best grounding there is to have a peer-reviewed journal article that says that, or, better yet, is an example of this being used for that kind of research. Don't rely on non-peer-reviewed sources, like personal communications, someone's lecture, someone's email.

Now, this is your review of primarily the scholarly literature. If there are gaps in the literature and you're using personal communications to justify why you're exploring this other area, okay, but only in that very limited sense. The bulk of what you should be doing with literature review is dealing with published literature, of the most scholarly source that you can.


Visual: The slide “Recognize and avoid plagiarism in the lit review” opens. Just under the title is the hyperlink for “Plagiarism Prevention Modules.” The description of these modules is below the hyperlink followed by four bulleted points about the key points. Basil discusses this resource.

Audio: Now, I just mention this because this is a new thing that we have. If you are submitting a draft to your chair and they say, please address the plagiarism issues, see the Turnitin report, or something like that and you're wondering, wait, what does that mean, or I don't know what you're talking about, I did everything that I was taught about avoiding plagiarism. Do understand that plagiarism is to some degree culturally oriented and the exact boundaries of what is considered acceptable in differ contexts does vary, but here, at a U.S. university, with APA and academic and American English, we have very specific ideas and expectations and so if you run into any questions about concerns there, please, I strongly recommend going through these modules. They will answer a lot of questions and give you what you need to make sure that you're writing meets Walden standard for not plagiarizing, for attributing sources and marking quotations and all that stuff.


Visual: The slide “Reading literature” opens. It shows a tree diagram about important information to glean from literature. Basil discusses this.

Audio: Now, when you're taking your notes, I would say it is generally a mistake, a mistake and this will ultimately cost you a whole lot more time than it would otherwise. I would say it is generally a mistake to go writing and say, oh I need a source for that. Let me go do a search online and find one to support this point. First, because you probably will miss important context. Second, because it means you're searching against time and getting out of the writing mood. If you track all these details that you see here as you read each source, you'll have a ready-made tool for quickly finding those things you need when you need them, ideally starting when you're doing the outline. But if you're going back to paragraph and say, give me more sources there, you can look at your notes and quickly find, oh, yes, here's another qualitative case study dealing with this participant pool that I can make reference to here.


Visual: The slide “Organizing ideas: Literature review matrix” opens. “Literature review matrix” is hyperlinked. The columns are labeled with different information pieces found in scholarly research. Each row has a different research article. Basil discusses how to use this tool.

Audio: Great way to organize this is a literature review matrix. The link up here takes you to both Microsoft Word and Excel examples. The basic idea is you have columns and rows and you organize all this information and quickly look up and down. I recommend using the Microsoft Excel version because it's very easy to sort and then have, say, all the grounded theory studies or here are all the phenomenological studies, all sorted together and you can quickly find out what you have.


Visual: The slide “Organize by theme rather than by source:” opens. Two hierarchical lists are labeled “Research notes:” and “Thematic outline:” with sources as examples listed below each. Basil discusses using the information on the matrix to organize the outline of the literature review.

Audio: I would also recommend that you organize your discussion and your notes in thematic terms rather than just saying "a" wrote that because you'll find if you're saying let me have a column in my matrix that says, oh, financial cost of single parenting, then you mark everything there, it will make it so much easier and faster to get to that later. And this feeds into your writing lit review and seeing, okay, here's this top-down view, these sources discussed this and then moving on to here's what they found that's relevant to what I’m doing.


Visual: The slide “Sample Headings for the Table of Contents” opens. Right below the title is a brief description of the literature review topic. The main body of the slide shows the headings within the literature review and bulleted subsections.

Audio: There is a question about headings and table of content. Here is an example of a set of sample headings. You'll see that before the body of the lit review gives a search strategy, here's what I looked at and how and this is thematically organized as to committee in the workplace, see why community is important. Here's what the literature says about for-profit leadership styles, part of which you can tie back into that whole community thing.

As you see in the first section of for-profit Leadership styles, which is management strategies and building community. In term of breaking this down, as you're creating your own outline, go as deep as you can because that will give you a better idea of what to write about when and how much you have to. It's very common to, in the early stages of your outline, to end up moving things around from section to section, which is why I also recommend that when you create this detailed outline, that before you start writing in your literature review, you run your outline by your chair because it will be easiest and fastest to rearrange the outline before you're written full sentences and paragraphs.


Visual: The slide “Writing the literature review: Content” opens. A large square is divided into four quadrants. Starting with the top left quadrant and moving clockwise, the quadrants are labeled “Connecting source details to the heading,” “Include only source details relevant to your study,” “Acknowledge and refute counterarguments,” and “Conclude.” Each quadrant has additional details. The center of the square has a textbox “Critical essay.” Basil discusses all of these points.

Audio: This is just a general set of guidelines about things to think about as you're writing the literature review. Make sure that you clarify to your readers what the importance of these details that you're summarizing are. Make sure you only give them the details that they need to know at this point in the lit review.

Going back to the earlier question about giving the sample sizes, the number of participants. Sometimes it's relevant, sometimes it's not. If you're just talking about the methodology of the study, probably not. If you're talking about the ramifications and what is guiding things, knowing the participants and percentages for different responses would be very helpful. The rest I’m doing to leave to you read on your own later because we've talked about those before.


Visual: The slide “Literature review: Resources” opens. The slide has a large textbox directing the participants to the handout in the files pod. The textbox says: Let’s take a look: Compilation of resources for doctoral capstone students in the “Resources for Doctoral Students” handout.

Audio: And, I want to make sure we leave some time for questions at the end. So let's look at some of the resources that are available in the handout that I showed you earlier.


Visual: Basil opens the handout from the files pod and zooms in to direct participants’ attention to various resources listed on the page.

Audio: So going back to our earlier theme of what you can get to get help with, as a doctoral is student, as you reach the coursework stage, you will assemble step by step your committee. The committee will be led by a chair who is the main mentor, main person, advisor, main person you need to write to satisfy throughout the capstone doctoral process. There is also the university research reviewer, or URR, who charged with making sure your writing meets the steps, and the last who comes in and says, all right, I haven't looked at this before, let's make sure this is as good.

Now, each of these people will be looking for different things and contributing in different fashions, as much as for different problems and different things you would like help with, you want to go to different resources. So most of the time, you'll start with your chair but if you have questions make your understanding a particular research approach correctly, you can go right to Center for Research Quality, make an office hours appointment, ask the questions and not embarrass yourself in front of your chair, or worry about it.

We also have a lot of other resources that you will be interested, like checklists and rubrics for different programs, things that they want, sometimes things they want in a specific order, although that doesn't apply so much to the literature review which is more topic-driven than by program.

Library, great help. Did you know that the Walden Library has librarians you can call or email or chat up seven days per week? We have expanded our coverage greatly over the years, make use of it. It's entirely free. And if you find an article that you want to get but it's not immediately downloadable through Walden, we have a form on the website where you can request that and most of the time within usually 48 hours, you'll have an email with a pdf of that article arriving in your in-box. It's great, please make use of that, it saves so much time and trouble to have first people help you find and know what's out there and get those things that you can't get on your own.

Writing Center, we've got lots of other resources. So, you've come to our webinar here, this is one of a whole series. Beth, approximately how many webinars do we have?

Audio: Beth: Oh goodness, Basil, I think we're really close to 50 now. We're about 47, I would say.

Audio: Basil: Well, I’ve got another webinar that I’m designing for you for later this year so we'll do our job to bump that over 50 soon. It's constantly expanding and we offer these because we see needs from students like you so if you have a question, don't worry, someone else has probably had that before. Look in our archive or on the website and if there is a question that you have that's not answered there, don't worry, there's information on there for you to ask us anyway.

Same thing if you're running specific things. Can't get Word to work, having trouble with SPSS. Not sure what people are telling you about analysis, you can go to the Academic Skills Center for help with that. Now, at this point, I think we're just about at the stage to wrap things up. Let me double check so to see if there's anything else I’m scheduled to talk about.


Visual: The next slide “Resources for Doctoral Capstone Students” opens. The slide title is in the top left corner with a textbox below that has a hyperlink for the “Doctoral Capstone Resources Website” and a note that this site is a clearing house for all doctoral capstone resources. The right side of the slide shows a screenshot of the homepage.

Audio: Ahh, Doctoral Capstone Resources website. Yes. For those of you who have been in the program for a couple years, this launched I think about a year or year and a half ago, it is a great central hub to go to to find information related to your capstone. Please bookmark this one, it will save you a lot of time. It's not that you can't go to all the other websites that I mentioned but very handy to have this as a reference so you're not spending a lot of time in google trying to find anything. Are there any things that you want to mention, Beth, before we wrap things up? What's next in the series?


Visual: The last slide opens. It shows ways to contact the Writing Center editors with hyperlinks for associated webinars.

Audio: Beth: Thanks, Basil. I should check that. We just put up the September schedule so if you found Basil's presentation here helpful, you might find the next doctoral capstone webinar helpful which is about the introduction, conclusion and abstract sections of your studies. So that's on September 13th.

Audio: Basil: Slip in a brief thing about that, as I switch this over to the lobby, in case we have any very last questions you want to try and sneak in, you can ask away. So the introduction I think is one of the most important parts of your document because if you write a very broad introduction, you set yourself up for writing this very, very long capstone and a very long lit review. I strongly encourage you to attend that session and as you craft the introduction, or as you refine the introduction to think, okay, what exactly am I doing. And what is the scope of what you want to tackle in this particular study and in this particular portion of your paper. To put it another way, you can set yourself up to write a very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very long study or you can set yourself up to write one that's just as long as you need to and finish faster and I strongly suggest the second one.

There is a question that came in earlier, is there a minimum or maximum number of sources for the lit review? No but I would say that if you're -- if you had more than 200 sources, that's probably rather excessive and that if you came in under 50, that would definitely raise some questions for me as a chair. Look at other recent capstones from your program and that will give you a ballpark but, really, it's determined more by the conciseness of your topic than anything else. Some broader ones will require more, some specific ones will require less.

Is the introduction same as a problem statement? No. And the problem statement is a concise statement of here's the general and specific thing that you are addressing. The introduction will talk about some of that stuff but it's more here's the context. It may include some elements, these things are problematic but the problem statement section is where you really get specific about what you are doing in your study or what you're focusing on.

Someone mentioned the 85 percent rule. That's used in the DBA program to determine whether your -- is recent. Basically, it is so 85% or more of your sources come from the last five years counted from your graduation date backwards. In the DBA program, it's more general but it is implementing the Walden requirement that your research be current and up to date.

All right. We're going to have to wrap this up. But thank you everyone for coming. I would like to extend a special thank you both to you, Beth who was giving the remarks about the Writing Center series a moment ago and to my colleague, Jenny Martell, both Beth and Jenny Have been answering your questions from the Q and A box throughout the session. Thank you so much for coming and come back for the next one.

Audio: Beth: Thank you so much, Basil, and thank you very much for attending today. Well, we'll go ahead and ends the session but we appreciate you coming and we hope that you'll come to another webinar in the rest of the month here or in September. So thank you, everyone. Have a great day.