Literature Review Errors: How to Avoid Them While Writing

When a research committee has approved your proposal, the next step is a literature review. A literature review can be developed in two steps:

  1. A critical evaluation of existing research papers, scholarly articles/journal articles, white papers, government records or any other theory in relation to the research problem that you choose for further investigation. This step mainly involved identifying the research gap.  
  2. Refining, segregating and comparing the literature as per your research objectives.

A basic laying out of two seemingly-simple steps mentioned above itself seems a daunting task. It is obvious that it is easier said than done, and some ‘errors’ are bound to be committed by you while writing a literature review chapter for your PhD thesis.

Your Writing Lacks Synthesis
When you write a literature review, the first thing you have to bear in mind is synthesising of all information that you have drawn from reviewing papers.  You have to consolidate what matter was clear in previous studies, what part was obscure, and what parts were missing altogether so that readers can decipher your message explicitly.

For instance, if your topic for a literature review is ways to whittle down the rate of cybercrime, you have to mention recent citations that will be relevant to your research topic. It should include, for example, increasing rate of cybercrime over time, law enforcement, existing tools to detect crime, challenges faced by cybercrime investigation authorities etc. You would then bring one of the obscure areas into attention that would justify your research objectives.

You haven’t Critiqued the Research Adequately
A literature review does not mean consolidating what is currently known about a topic but to justify for your research work by finding limitations in earlier studies. A coherent and comprehensive critique of the literature reviewed is the key. You have to identify the limitations and drawbacks of previous research attempts and convince the committee why it’s necessary to fill research gap.

For instance, in the aforementioned topic, what preventive measures were not considered to diminish cybercrime rate in old literature, and what technological drawbacks became an impediment to improve the situation but were not identified until then. By addressing these loopholes, you can justify how addressing these issues are vital to meet objectives.

You Used Irrelevant Material
A literature review does not demonstrate what you have read; it instead reveals how a certain part of the material that you have read provides the basis for your research. For instance, in the above mentioned topic, you will include citations that somehow relates to cybercrime. If you add anything that surrounds crime but not cybercrime, your literature review will digress, and you will not be able to justify it to your research committee. In addition, it is suggested to use only the most recent (and updated) resources for literature reviewing.

Summing Up
The bottom line is to write an accurate literature review for your thesis, you should know about your research objectives and how your work is going to meet them. If you face difficulty finding relevance in previous studies that could serve the purpose of your research, don’t hesitate to consult your supervisor to catch hold of a perspective for critiquing literature to suit your research.

Did you know these 4 things when applying for PhD?

Congratulations! You are about to start your PhD programme. Don’t be under the false impression that PhD is as easy as falling off a log. You’ll devote your maximum time in extensive research and bring out some new ideas and ways to add benefits to an existing research. You might have consulted several people and done online research about PhD, for instance, when and how to start it, but a few things might have been overlooked. Here they are.

  • You can start PhD in an entirely different field

This is not surprising that you have attained your master degree in one subject and eventually found that your interest lies somewhere else. Interests change with time and experience. Having spent several years in one area, you may find passion in an entirely different area that you would be considering nonexistent.

You should talk to one of your professors and tell them your interest area. The brief will help them guide whether or not a new area is benign for you.

  • Take a break before enrollment

PhD programme is tedious and long. It takes years to complete. Before proceeding with the programme you should be aware of the type of research you would be doing. You should be certain where you would be living during the course. Are you comfortable for being in an academic environment? Scoop out what lies beyond it, and then make a thoughtful move.

However, long gap is not good as it would be harder to get into an academic environment with lower pay later. Within the time gap you should know your priorities and the area of your research. You will be focused this time in your research, and also know if you would be able to cope up with full time research before applying for PhD.

  • Confirm that you have a variety of research options

When you start your PhD programme you may find that it’s not what you expected. A research advisor plays a crucial role. Though you have to pick up the one at the beginning stage, you can finalize a permanent research advisor at later stage. You should choose a programme where professors are working on a broader area. This would assist you exploring different research areas and choose the one that best suits your interest. This will also assist you to be in touch with a research advisor  who’ll help you in project completion successfully.

  • Set ground rules

Life gives positive and negative experience. No matter how savvy and patient you are, you may err in coordinating with your supervisor. Sometimes supervisors don’t heed on your work carefully and provide harsh or no feedback. You should be prepared of dealing this situation since you apply for the programme. Supervisors can be enabling, motivating, and bullies. So it’s important to know the structure and regulations of a university.

There Can Be Many Types of Research Gaps in Literature: Know What You Have to Find Out!

Sam’s idea of research was around studying the information architecture decisions of educational websites and their effect on the learning behaviour of the visitors. On the basis of getting clarity on her research data, Sam first figured out that the data be collected from which sources (websites and target users) and then which research methods have to be deployed to get the appropriate answers to the research questions.

Having identified a promising area of interest, a scholar must find out those research questions that have not only been left unresolved but those that have the relevance to contribute meaningfully to the existing theory.

The different types of research gaps that can exist in literature review can be

Sometimes the research question may be answered in the literature review in the relevant area but not in your given domain. For example:

  1. The collaborative learning theories that exist in literature bring out the concept that peers make use of each other’s knowledge skill to gradually move in the direction of individual problem solving. In the present context, if one tries to identify the research gap here, it does not specifically talk about how email or long distance communication support collaborative learning? This could take up as a specific gap extracted from the relevant area of research.

Sometimes the question has been asked in the previous studies but the exploration is further needed because of the dynamism in the accepted theory or the technology changes demanding further probing in. For example:

  1. A new eye tracking software in the market helps to further identify in detail about the spatial language description directing the judgement of the people. Though there are previous studies on this, but development in new technology merits exploration.

Sometimes the previous research may have limited application of the output derived or may have significant limitations. This could be because of reliability, validity issues of the instrument in use or other limitation that may have caused the limitation to occur. It creates the scope for a replication study to be conducted as a verification study for the existing published research to understand whether the results match or no. For example:

  1. An existing research tests whether website content can be accessible and understood sufficiently well across different intellectual capacities. However, it did not take into consideration important variables such as word choice, difficulty of language, word count etc. a new study with incorporation of relevant variables can take out more authentic and applicable results.

Work-To-Rule: Advice for meeting a deadline

Last night I had a nightmare!!

Don’t get scared…. It was not about ghosts and witches. It was about DISSERTATION. Yes, you got it right. It is the DISSERTATION ghost that was chasing me down. It’s not about me only who has been facing this miasma of fear. Lots of candidates who are doing their research have been facing this problem of meeting their dissertation deadline. Luckily, I met my mentor who came to my rescue and this psychological fear of working on dissertation vanished. I want to discuss the strategies to make your working on dissertations/ thesis more interesting and soothing. So here we go!!

The single biggest obstacle to dissertation is the psychological fear. With our perseverance we can easily tackle the dissertation topics as dissertation is nothing but the compilation of seminal papers regarding essays, lab reports, conference presentations etc. Remember dissertation demands far greater research than you have ever researched before but don’t panic!! With proper strategy and planning we can overcome this obstacle.

Let’s fragment our strategy into various areas which we need to focus on:

PLANNING:

First of all choose a topic that you are really mad about. The topic should be doable. If the topic is overly ambitious and not clearly understood, then it is a recipe for failure. Remember, only a complete dissertation is a good dissertation. So choose a topic that you are confident about and can finish on time. Choose a mentor who matches your style and modus operandi. Also learn to say no to your new commitments that usually eats away your time.

MAXIMUM UTILIZATION OF AVAILABLE RESOURCES:

I often found candidates underestimating the power of techie resources available to them. These resources are just a click away and believe me, help a lot in case of meeting a deadline. Mendeley, Zotero, Endnote, Grammarly, PubMed and many more, are the super tools that provide quick results without taking much time. I urge candidates to explore these resources and make the best out of them.

TAKE ONLINE EXPERT’S HELP:

If you want your fear of dissertation just go away, I suggest you to take online help from academic writers and you won’t regret. There are many service providers who take care of your dissertation and help you in meeting the deadline. They are the subject matter experts from the same domain who will provide the quality writing. You can also go for online editing and proofreading services to ensure the on-time delivery of quality work.

TIME IS MONEY

It’s entirely up to you if you want to work on your dissertation full time or part time. Commit to yourself that you are going to work on your project five days a week or six days a week and stick to your resolution. Set daily goals, and club similar work together like visiting your relatives, library or making some urgent calls. Be realistic about your aims and organize your work in such a way that you are in full control of your other commitments. Set small goals and break down your work into smaller segments. Don’t scare yourself by thinking you are writing a book. You are just writing few research papers.

STRUCTURISATION OF YOUR WORK

Choose a work area with least distractions and try to use it routinely. Organize your dissertation around methodological and conceptual questions which others experts have answered about and analyze how you can answer them by agreeing or disagreeing. Always do your work on paper as it will help you and your mentor in refining it further by making some amendments in the end. After you have zeroed in on key ideas, organize them into a structure, then work through the ideas one at a time. Make use of possible technologies and software that can help you achieve your goals easily.

 WRITING

Write while you think and think while you write. Because it is at the time of writing you come across lot of ideas. Don’t write in isolation, try to write while you debate or enter into a conversation. Don’t write while you edit, try to keep your writing away from self-criticism. Never stop writing while you don’t want to write, I know this is a bit contradictory statement. But fact of the matter is that try to keep yourself indulged by working on your introduction, analyzing your evidences, reviewing literature reviews or writing on your ideas. You can write whatever you want to but never stops writing. Keeps the momentum going on. Make an attempt for small, daily advances rather than striving to do everything all in one go.

There is only way to write: write a lot.

Date each revision in the header to avoid confusion. Try to segmenting your literature search down into various parts, advancing from gathering general knowledge to more concentrated information, and finally to specific facts and statistics, developing the section as you sail through these parts. Learn when and where to stop. Set yourself a goal by for the type of sources you will search through for paragraphs, variable, ideas etc. and stop when you achieve this goal.

KEEP YOURSELF MOTIVATED

Give yourself a pat on the back when you meet your daily, weekly or monthly targets. You can reward yourself by anything that can bring a smile on your face. Make a list of regular guilt-­free fun activities. As these activities will not let you feel burned out, try to make you and your friends and relatives happier, and make it easier to start again focused work habits during the dissertation time. Never compare yourself with other students and be confident about your capacities and abilities. No matter how small the steps you achieve, keep yourself motivated with self-encouraging talks.

SEEK YOUR MENTOR SUPPORT

Organize regular meetings with your dissertation advisor and be proactive in seeking his feedbacks. Learn to take the feedbacks in a positive way and if there is some critical or negative comment then seek the clarification from your dissertation advisor right away without wasting even a single second. Stay calm while receiving feedback; Take some time to garner your thoughts before answering a difficult question. Stay in touch with your faculty members or advisors who can assist and motivate you. Give yourself a partner for your research to mark the accountability. In order to stay updated and connected attend regular departmental events and conferences or meetings.

Last but not the least,

Never quit! Be confident about your abilities that you can meet your goal and succeed. Learn from your good as well as bad experiences. Celebrate your success with your family members and friends. Go and have fun.

The tumbling success to journal paper publication

There are times when you make attempts to achieve something but always lose out for a few points. This is especially true when you are attempting a write up to be approved for a journal paper. This is a study that people create in order to be featured among academic writers and to make a mark in their field. There are certain methods that help in achieving a good feedback and probably nailing it in the first time with a journal paper.

The first and most important point is to conform to the standards of writing a journal paper. The formatting, style and structuring needs to be exactly as it is expected. The publishers are generally very choosy about who they allow to be printed, when you follow the rules, you know you are one step closer to being printed.

Keep you matter exclusive and fresh. Something that is not very frequently written about, may earn you a few brownie points. Such an endeavor obviously comes with the challenge to study with much more seriousness and detail.

Add value to the paper with diversified styles in providing information. Making use of informative tables and surveys make for a more interesting and allowable study. Your attempt to a survey may just get you that important nod.

Your study should have a conclusion that provides extra insight into the matter. Stating the obvious would never get you too far, if your inferences are new, they make for a better read. Publishers are always on the lookout for unique and original content and ideas.

Sometimes you have to think out of the box if you need to reach new heights, what may seem like a colossal task may just need a new outlook and you are good to go!

How to engross interest in your PhD Thesis

If you have had the chance to read a study or an informational write up, you might know exactly what interests you in reading it. If you are on your way to achieving a PhD degree, you probably have read quite a few studies or thesis presentations. There are some common factors that contribute towards making a thesis interesting. Here are some tips and how you can get to achieve them.

Keep you sentences and paragraphs short and informative. This keeps the readers interested in the matter, long sentences make for a boring read. Shorter sentences give a crisper feel to the write up. You can achieve this by using only the most relevant information, fluff usually makes for more words and hence longer sentences.

Make use of illustrative messages. These illustrations could be in the form of pictures, graphs, comparative analysis etc. You could either get these through research or create them on your own.

Prepare questionnaires or surveys and present them to support your study. Such a style of presentation keeps the read an interactive one. People find it more enjoyable to compare their own answers with the answers of a survey. Creation of such surveys or questionnaires can be done with the help of those who have experience in doing it.

Stick to facts and figures, something that adds informative value to the reader’s minds is incomparable. An evaluator would find your study more complete if you have made and incorporated a list of facts that support your work. Get this information through probing or reading up on material or searching on the web.

People write thesis year on year, but you can stand out with your work if you make and attempt to keep it different while conforming to the standards. A unique read makes for the most successful attempt when it comes to thesis writing.

The 3 driving sections of a PhD Thesis

Completing a PhD course is something that takes a lot of effort and confidence. Without having the conviction in yourself, it may be impossible to get anywhere in your endeavor. The best way to gain the confidence is to take one thing at a time and concentrate on that with all your heart and soul. One of the most important part of finishing PhD is doing the thesis. When the thesis is broken up into parts, it becomes extremely easy to achieve. It is important to identify the different parts of the thesis.

The first part is the introduction, which includes the topic of the thesis, the proposal and the problem statement. The topic gives an idea of what you intend to target in your study, the proposal serves as an explanation of the topic and the problem statement is which part of the topic, you find to be worthy of the study and how you will tackle it in the course of your study. The best way to get it right is to be clear on your intention and the final result that you want to see. You can also take help from someone who has been there and done that, just to make sure you are on the right track

The second part of the thesis is the body itself. The body contains everything from the history of the topic, to the evolution, to the present and the future. Case studies play a major role in the second part of the thesis. Getting this part right becomes easier if you keep your sources of study diverse and also keep the style of information dynamic.

The final part of the thesis should express what you have learnt from the study and how you may apply your inferences in problem solving. Studying other people’s work helps in getting the inferences right. Making the study a wholesome and error free one.

How to Proceed While Designing a Questionnaire

It is very important to ask your research participants the right questions in the right manner if you want your study to be successful. Thus, you should follow a stepwise procedure while you develop an effective questionnaire for your study. Check out how to go about it.

Check your goal

To develop an effective questionnaire, it is critical to understand what you are trying to find out. Thus, you should first check your goal and start designing your questions around it.

Find the relevance of collected data

You should also see that your collected data finds its usage. Do not include questions that are irrelevant to your study. There is no point in capturing data that would not be used anywhere. Design questions that can elicit answers to what you want to know.

Consider your participant and study type

You may not ask the same questions to every type of participant in your study. Design questions according to your respondents and subject matter. For example, your questions would vary for a qualitative and a quantitative study. Similarly, you should also see whether your questionnaire would be applied in a personal interaction with the subjects or over the telephone/email/post. Your question type may differ for all such situations.

Keep it short

Stay to the point, as participants may not be interested in answering a lengthy questionnaire that asks for the same information repeatedly. Thus, remove redundant questions and use direct language in your questions. Additionally, make use of commonly understood words and terms while creating shorter sentences.

What Expectations to Set from a Developmental Editor

Writing an effective research proposal is not as difficult as it seems to be for many research students. If you have the required grasp on your selected topic of research and have done intensive literature review in relation to it, then shaping a proposal should not be a complex task for you. A research proposal is all about presenting your views and approach on the topic. In fact, the harder part is conducting the research itself. However, it is still important to plan well before you come up with a winning proposal that may receive an instant approval.

Stick to institutional guidelines

If your academic institution has provided guidelines about the length and style of a research proposal, then you must stick to those guidelines. Keep your content confined to the given word limit and strive to make it brief and crisp. You should also follow the specific writing style and format for a proposal that has been recommended by your institution.

Cover all basic elements

As a proposal includes several elements, it is critical to cover each element precisely and clearly. When you give an introduction, try to keep it short. However, mention about the problem and its likely contributions to your academic area. It is very important to explain what you are trying to discern through your study. Explain the problem by giving it a context and reflect on its scope by presenting the relevant review of literature. Additionally, make sure to explain your methodology with valid reasons for your selection. Always keep a connection of every section with the problem to be studied.

Take time to complete your proposal

When you need to write a proposal, make sure to give yourself ample time to do this. Do not leave it for the last minute. After doing a thorough literature review and understanding all aspects of your study, sit down to start compiling an effective proposal.

How to Construct and Arrive at a Winning Research Proposal

Writing an effective research proposal is not as difficult as it seems to be for many research students. If you have the required grasp on your selected topic of research and have done intensive literature review in relation to it, then shaping a proposal should not be a complex task for you. A research proposal is all about presenting your views and approach on the topic. In fact, the harder part is conducting the research itself. However, it is still important to plan well before you come up with a winning proposal that may receive an instant approval.

Stick to institutional guidelines

If your academic institution has provided guidelines about the length and style of a research proposal, then you must stick to those guidelines. Keep your content confined to the given word limit and strive to make it brief and crisp. You should also follow the specific writing style and format for a proposal that has been recommended by your institution.

Cover all basic elements

As a proposal includes several elements, it is critical to cover each element precisely and clearly. When you give an introduction, try to keep it short. However, mention about the problem and its likely contributions to your academic area. It is very important to explain what you are trying to discern through your study. Explain the problem by giving it a context and reflect on its scope by presenting the relevant review of literature. Additionally, make sure to explain your methodology with valid reasons for your selection. Always keep a connection of every section with the problem to be studied.

Take time to complete your proposal

When you need to write a proposal, make sure to give yourself ample time to do this. Do not leave it for the last minute. After doing a thorough literature review and understanding all aspects of your study, sit down to start compiling an effective proposal.