Creating the Literature review

The label ‘literature review’ is a misnomer which sometimes leads thesis writers to produce unfocused and badly written literature review chapters. This post begins a series of four that untangles the purpose of working with literature. The literature review chapter usually follows the introductory chapter which has argued for a specific research problem and question, and precedes the research design chapter which will explain how the question is to be answered. In the introductory chapter the question is posed, but in the research design chapter the question is taken for granted. Positioning the literature review chapter between these two chapters tells us a lot about its purpose – and there is much more to it than simply ‘reviewing’ the literature. I suggest that a primary aim of the literature review chapter is to make the case that the question should be accepted. To state it differently: the literature review is a series of connected arguments in support of the research question. Instead of a mere ‘review’, it must firmly scaffold the overall argument, the thesis, by argumentatively engaging with the literature.

Part I  –   Part II   –   Part III   –   Part IV

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The Perks and Perils of Interdisciplinary Research

In order to get beyond the rhetoric of interdisciplinarity, Erin Leahey has designed a series of research projects that address the actual impact of interdisciplinary work on scholars and institutions. In this essay, Leahey discusses how interdisciplinary research affects academic careers, the visibility of research, and scholarly productivity. She also reports on an ongoing project that explores the ways in which universities support interdisciplinary work among their faculty.

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Read also: A Multidimensional Scoring System for Interdisciplinary Research Proposals

Posted in Interdisciplinarity, Interdisciplinary research, Research, Research methods, Research network | Tagged , , , ,

Social Media and Open Research: What Does ‘Open’ Mean?

In the not too distant past, the use of social media in higher education was seen as a curiosity at best. Perhaps something to be explained or inquired into but certainly not something deemed relevant to scholarship. Yet it’s now increasingly hard to move without encountering the idea that social media is something of value for academics. The reasons offered are probably quite familiar by now. It helps ensure your research is visible, both inside and outside the academy, helping build an audience for your publications and an impact for their findings. It expands your professional networks. It makes research more open and researchers more accountable to the people who ultimately fund their work.

If not quite at the level of ‘common sense’ yet, I suspect these points soon will be regarded as such, at least by young scholars. On the surface, we seem to have witnessed a fairly significant change, but is it a positive one?

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Posted in Open research, Research, Research network, Social media | Tagged , , ,

Evaluating Quality Standards in a Qualitative Research Literature Review

A December 2015 article in Research Design Review discusses “A Quality Approach to the Qualitative Research Proposal.”  The article outlines quality image the eight sections of a “TQF proposal,” i.e., a proposal whereby quality design issues – specifically, related to the four components of the Total Quality Framework – play a central role throughout the writing of each proposal section.  This approach enables the researcher to be mindful of the considerations that go into developing, implementing, and reporting a qualitative research study that is built on quality standards.  The TQF proposal can then live on beyond the proposal phase to inform the researcher as he/she goes about executing the proposed design.

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Read also: A Quality Approach to the Qualitative Research Proposal

TQF proposal

 

Posted in Qualitative methods, Qualitative research, Quality | Tagged , ,

How to Solve the World’s Biggest Problems

Interdisciplinarity has become all the rage as scientists tackle climate change and other intractable issues. But there is still strong resistance to crossing borders.

“The problems challenging us today, the ones really worth working on, are complex, require sophisticated equipment and intellectual tools, and just don’t yield to a narrow approach,” he says. “The traditional structure of university departments and colleges was not conducive to cooperative, interdisciplinary work.” As an academic movement, interdisciplinarity caught on during the 1970s and has been growing ever since, says Larivière. He credits that rise in part to libraries, which began to stockpile subscriptions and improved researchers’ access to journals in alternative fields. A particle physicist could more easily browse biology journals, say. Furthermore, the US focus began to shift from basic research and scientific liberty back to societal problems such as environmental protection, which can rarely be tackled by a single discipline.

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Posted in Complex knowledge, Complex problems, Interdisciplinarity, Research, Research methods, Research network | Tagged , , , , ,

Interdisciplinarity: How to Catalyse Collaboration

An urgent push to bridge the divide between the biophysical and the social sciences is crucial. It is the only way to drive global sustainable development that delivers social inclusion, environmental sustainability and economic prosperity. Sustainability is the classic ‘wicked’ problem, characterized by poorly defined requirements, unclear boundaries and contested causes that no single agency or discipline is able to address. It is crucial to understand, then, why so many well-meaning attempts at interdisciplinary collaboration fail to deliver tangible outcomes — and why others succeed. Here we offer an unapologetically personal answer by reflecting on how, working across multiple faculties of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, we have built a team of disciplinary experts that delivers integrated and sustainable water management across multiple cities. We have now grown this interdisciplinary team to incorporate other institutions nationally and internationally. At the same time, we acknowledge that substantial transaction costs come with interdisciplinary research — it takes extra time and effort to make it work.

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Posted in Collaboration, Collaborative inquiry, Interdisciplinarity, Research, Research methods, Research network | Tagged , , , , ,

Creative Research Methods in the Social Sciences: A Practical Guide

With foreword by Kenneth J. Gergen and Mary M. Gergen. Creative research methods can help to answer complex contemporary questions, which are hard to answer using traditional methods alone. Creative methods can also be more ethical, helping researchers to address social injustice. This accessible book is the first to identify and examine the four areas of creative research methods: arts-based research, research using technology, mixed-method research and transformative research frameworks. Written in a practical and jargon-free style, with over 100 boxed examples, it offers numerous examples of creative methods in practice, from the social sciences, arts, and humanities around the world. Spanning the gulf between academia and practice, this useful book will inform and inspire researchers by showing readers why, when, and how to use creative methods in their research.

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Posted in Research, Research methods, Social science | Tagged , ,

Mapping Your Thesis: The Comprehensive Manual of Theory and Techniques for Masters and Doctoral Research

If this book provided a set of rules to be learned and applied, writing a thesis might seem pleasingly easy. But, because writing a thesis is seldom easy, the book instead offers a more complex mapping of the process. The purpose is to raise awareness of the critical choices involved in research and thesis writing for both masters and doctorates. Running as a leitmotif throughout is the notion that no conceptual construct can be complete unto itself. Concepts can only be defined in terms of their dynamic relations with other constructs. It is in this context that the three broad methodological categories informing discussion in the book – exegetic, empirical, and qualitative – were adopted for didactic purposes only: at no time are they considered autonomies. Therefore, not only can they be compared in multiple ways, their shared continuities are often as significant as their differences. Nonetheless, as in the case of different disciplines, differing methodological positions have different textual outcomes. Writing a masters’ or doctoral thesis is not only an inherently idiosyncratic exercise, it is also epistemic and, in the current intellectual climate, rhetorical. The malleability of the disciplinary and methodological vocabularies used in academic rhetorics reflects the manner in which not only words but also styles of writing evolve to suit particular purposes. For this reason, the style of writing and the words used in a thesis will need to be interrogated with the same informed intensity applied to all other aspects of the research undertaking. Only then, with the drawing of a more complex cognitive map, will a definition incrementally develop of what – in terms of a researcher’s own needs – constitutes sound academic discourse.

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Posted in Research, Research methods, Thesis, Writing | Tagged , , ,

Interesting Ways to Communicate Your Research

To maximise the value of your research, you need to communicate it to others. There are many ways to do so: examples include applications and bids, conference presentations, gray literature, journal papers, media (old and new), public talks, and teaching. This book provides fresh, creative, ways of making the most of these and other opportunities. It provides 53 practical suggestions, each based on ideas tried and tested by the contributors. Key terms:communication; impact; presenting; publication; public engagement; research; social media; writing.

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Read also: Review

Posted in Communication, Research | Tagged ,

Moments of Impact: How to Design Strategic Conversations that Accelerate Change

In our fast-changing world, leaders are increasingly confronted by messy, multifaceted challenges that require collaboration to resolve. But the standard methods for tackling these challenges—meetings packed with data-drenched presentations or brainstorming sessions that circle back to nowhere—just don’t deliver.

Great strategic conversations generate breakthrough insights by combining the best ideas of people with different backgrounds and perspectives. In this book, two experts “crack the code” on what it takes to design creative, collaborative problem-solving sessions that soar rather than sink.

Drawing on decades of experience as innovation strategists—and supported by cutting-edge social science research, dozens of real-life examples, and interviews with well over 100 thought leaders, executives, and fellow practitioners— they unveil a simple, creative process that leaders and their teams can use to unlock solutions to their most vexing issues. The book also includes a “Starter Kit” full of tools and tips for putting the book’s core principles into practice.

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Posted in Change, Conversations, Meetings, Strategy | Tagged , , ,