Literature Review and Research Design
A Guide to Effective Research Practice
Designing a research project is possibly the most difficult task a dissertation writer faces. It is fraught with uncertainty: what is the best subject? What is the best method? For every answer found, there are often multiple subsequent questions, so it’s easy to get lost in theoretical debates and buried under a mountain of literature.
This book looks at literature review in the process of research design, and how to develop a research practice that will build skills in reading and writing about research literature—skills that remain valuable in both academic and professional careers. Literature review is approached as a process of engaging with the discourse of scholarly communities that will help graduate researchers refine, define, and express their own scholarly vision and voice. This orientation on research as an exploratory practice, rather than merely a series of predetermined steps in a systematic method, allows the researcher to deal with the uncertainties and changes that come with learning new ideas and new perspectives.
The focus on the practical elements of research design makes this book an invaluable resource for graduate students writing dissertations. Practicing research allows room for experiment, error, and learning, ultimately helping graduate researchers use the literature effectively to build a solid scholarly foundation for their dissertation research project.
Table of Contents
Part One: On Research
Chapter 1. Research Philosophy
Chapter 2. Research Practice
Part Two: Reading Literature
Chapter 3. Attitude
Chapter 4. Managing the Literature
Chapter 5. Deep Reading
Part Three: Writing About Literature
Chapter 6. Writing with Literature
Chapter 7. Writing a Literature Review
Select References, Annotated
Dave Harris is a writing coach who helps authors develop productive writing practices, using principles from design methods, philosophy of science, and cognitive science. With Jean-Pierre Protzen, he is author of The Universe of Design (2010, Routledge), and, alone, author of Getting the Best of Your Dissertation (2015, Thought Clearing). Find him on the web at www.thoughtclearing.com.
Unlike other books on research, this book does not prescribe methods or recipes. Rather, it feels like one is sitting with an experienced dissertation coach, having a series of short conversations about the tacit knowledge that underlies the various aspects of research practice. After reading this book, novice researchers will have a better understanding of how the literature supports and brings out a researcher’s own voice
Arnold Wentzel, author of Creative Research in Economics (Routledge, 2016) and A Guide to Argumentative Research Writing and Thinking (Routledge, 2017)