Research for the literature review

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Narration: 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.

Narration: The purpose of the literature review is multifold. It's demonstrating your expertise on the topic. It's synthesizing the current conversation surrounding the topic. And by doing this, it's showing how your study contributes to that conversation.

Narration: You may have a niche topic of great interest to you, which may make 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 and make an original contribution? If yes, great. If not, you'll have to consider how to modify your topic.

Narration: That problem at work that's driving you crazy may not be the best Capstone 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 the doctor in front of your name. Think of it this way, you're looking for a gap in practice or a gap in the literature, depending upon your program. You do not want to end up alone in the Grand Canyon. Someone has to be at least tangentially interested in your research project as it relates to their own research interests or to their professional challenges.

Narration: Searching is strategic exploration. There will be surprises. You'll be feeling uncomfortable. Not everyone is going to agree with your point of view. That is 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.

Narration: 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 will have to adjust your thinking. Sometimes, you have to adjust your problem statement and the questions you're asking. Be open minded about change.

Narration: 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 into a very deep hole. Engaging with the research that's already out there requires adaptability. Flexibility is key.

Narration: 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 in your topic. Don't totally avoid the old stuff. You'll need some of it.

Narration: When you start feeling as though you've lost your way, ask yourself these questions. What is the current conversation in the field related to the topic? Who are the major authors? How does your study fit or not fit with the current conversation? And what does your study add to that conversation?

Narration: And remember, 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.