There are a lot of different ways to expand your search to find relevant theories. The first step is to review the theories being used in the literature on your topic. You can also review completed dissertations or doctoral studies to see what other researchers have used. Once you've collected a list of relevant theories, spend time researching their seminal author and how the theory has been used over time. This will provide you more context as to whether or not a particular theory is going to work for your research. If you're not sure if a particular theory is appropriate for your study, be sure to reach out to your Chair. They will be able to provide more guidance.
This guide will provide more information about searching for business and information technology-related theories and theorists.
It's helpful to start by searching in Google Scholar for a particular theory. Google Scholar will give you the big picture on how often literature on your topic uses your theory. It can also be immensely helpful in locating the seminal work. The databases are still useful when drilling down your search but it's helpful to start broad.
Below is an example theory search in Google Scholar for employee motivation:
This same search could be done in any of the Library's databases. To learn more about locating theories and theorists in the Library's database, please click on the link below.
Searching for Dissertations and Doctoral Studies related to your topic can help you locate theories that may be relevant for your own research. You can also review their references to find more articles by theorists you're planning to use. You can look at doctoral studies from inside or outside of Walden University.
Locate dissertations or doctoral studies by degree:
Once you've found a viable theory, you can search for that theory in Google Scholar and review article references to find that seminal work.
The example below reviews an article discussing Herzberg's Motivation Theory. This article was found in the previous search done in the Google Scholar search example in the Search the library's databases or Google Scholar for literature on your topic box.
Once you open the article, review the Introduction or Literature Review. This piece is usually at the beginning of the paper. In this example, the theory is mentioned almost immediately along with the in-text citation. Review how the theory developed and how it was used. (You can make notes in the Theory Search Log found in the Keep a list of theories you find in the literature box.)
The next step is to review the reference list to find the citations for the most likely seminal articles.
It will be up to you to determine which of the articles is the seminal work. The next box talks about locating theories in our encyclopedias. The entries in the encyclopedias can provide context as to which article is actually the seminal work.
Once you've found a viable theory, search for that particular theory in Google Scholar (https://scholar.google.com). This will help you work backwards to find the seminal work. You can limit the dates to look for earliest dates of the theory and theorist.
The instructions below will walk your through an example of how to search in Google Scholar for a particular theory and work backwards in time.
You can also search by the theorist if you have the author's name. The example below shows a theorist search for Herzberg:
Note: author: will search for the author's name specifically. The quotation marks search for that exact phrase.
This will provide a list of articles written by the author. This approach can also help you locate the seminal work by the theorist.
You can learn more about a particular theory by searching in the encyclopedias to get an overview of the theory. Encyclopedias may also help you find the seminal work. Please note that the encyclopedias don't have all theories but it's worth checking.
Below is an example search for the Herzberg's Motivation Theory we found in our search results.
While reviewing content, you may learn new information about particular theories. For example, you will see that Herzberg's Motivation Theory is also called the Herzberg's two-factor theory. In other locations, it may be called the Herzberg's Motivation-Hygiene Theory.
As you go through the literature on your topic, keeping a list of theories you’ve found can be very helpful. You can track which theories are being used in the literature. This will prevent you from duplicating any work. You’ll find a link to a sample theory search log below. Feel free to use the log and edit it for your own purpose. It is not a standard or required document, just a useful tool for you to try.