This must see webinar provides tips on writing the introduction and literature review sections of your dissertation. Dr. Lani provides tips on searching, reading, organizing, and writing your literature review.
• OVERVIEW OF RESEARCH PROBLEM--Why study topic?
• SIGNIFICANCE OF PROBLEM—Why important?
• IDENTIFY KEY VARIABLES—How do you measure?
• EXPLAIN PROCEDURES—How are measures administered?
• A FEW PAGES IN LENGTH
• Literature (body of work) and review (survey of).
• Critical thinking skills matter—especially to the argument. A critical review
includes previous research strengths and weaknesses.
• Writing skills matter (organize your chapter, use topic sentences,
paragraphs must be coherent, have intros and conclusions).
• Stay in charge of your study (the best you can—you know more than the
• Tells readers what’s been done and identifies the gaps in the literature.
• Search relevant information then evaluate it.
• Provides the context of the study.
• Empirical and logical.
• Build a coherent argument, answering why the study needs to be
• Keywords matter.
• The source matters—e.g., Use peer reviewed.
• Primary sources—textbooks (overviews), journals (peer reviewed),
dissertation abstracts, research reviews.
• Start with recent articles.
• Find a good reference librarian; learn Boolean searches (AND, OR).
10. Search Strategies
• Identify databases.
• Identify appropriate search terms.
• Expand and narrow.
• Use citation chaining.
11. Identify Databases and Search Terms
• What are the big databases for this field?
• Ex. PubMed for medicine
• What terms best describe this topic?
• You may already have a clear idea of these terms, if not do some preliminary
searches to help identify them.
12. Expand and Narrow
• Consider the number of results.
• Use filters.
• Identify relevant articles and note their subjects or keywords.
• Use these to do a new search
13. Citation Chaining
• Using a relevant resource to find more relevant resources by looking at
who they cite and who cites them.
Relevant Resources Relevant Resources Relevant Resources
• Reading Strategy:
3. Topic Sentences of method and results
4. Skim discussion
5. If interesting, then rest of article
• What is the problem? What is the research question?
• What was the research design?
• Who or what is being studied?
• Sample size?
• What measures were used? How were they
• What were the procedures used, and what were the
• Constantly ask the “so what questions.”
What is the central theme of the research?
• Use a system of keeping notes (e.g., group articles into categories/themes).
• Movie analogy: long shot (generally relevant to your topic), medium shot
and close up (very relevant to your topic) shots.
16. Organizing Your Search
• Keep track of databases, search terms
• Use reference management software
• You don’t have to cite EVERYTHING that you’ve read—be selective (e.g.,
evidence in a courtroom is very selective).
• Don’t “””quote””” to death.
• Use tons of subheadings (easy to sequence).
• Summarize sections often.
• Transition between paragraphs and between sections.
18. Literature Review Conclusion
Solidify that argument
Example from My Dissertation
Questions Stimulated By and Limitations of the HW (1999) Study
• Several Questions were stimulated by the findings of the HW (1999) study. In this section I will discuss
problematic findings, construct hypotheses as to what may have…
• One puzzling finding from the
• A couple of limitations in the HW study hindered the usefulness and generalizability of the marker
• I also wondered whether the markers from her study were applicable to other therapies from different
Given the above questions and limitations regarding the HW study, I now present my study that address these issues.
19. Research Questions
I examined two primary questions in this study:
1. Can markers of assimilation be reliably identified in excerpted
passages of psychotherapy transcripts?
2. Are the identified markers valid indicators of APES stages?
20. Research Questions: Qualitative
• Qualitative research questions– Phenomenological research
(Moustakas) shows human lived experiences, uncovers the texture of
factors, and encompassing descriptions of experience.
• Qualitative research questions– Grounded theory research (Morse)
builds a theory. It is a process type of question:
• How the process is helped or hindered?
• How did the process change from time period to time period?
Educated guess of how variables interact with each other or change in
response to time or intervention.
Should be crystal clear to naïve readers– comprehensible.