Abstract Review–organize and cross-reference your literature

Once you have your dissertation prospectus approved, you’ll be moving into high research gear! It might be daunting to think about all you have to do, but inch-by-inch, its a cinch. In this post, I will describe how you can use an Abstract Review to jump start your research process, by setting up a structured method of identifying and organizing the articles you find, and cross-referencing them to look at in more detail later.

Abstract Review Throughout this post, I will refer to specific slide numbers of my Voice Thread on Organizing your Lit Review, that I talk about in a my note taking blog post.

Early Goal: Use the Abstract Review to identify articles on your topic to prepare for the construction of your dissertation outline.

The graphic below is an overview of the literature research process. You are starting at the star; working to identify and obtain articles. During the Abstract Review, you are trying to accomplish the first three stages. Your job is to work on getting a good feel for what literature is out there regarding the major topics of your dissertation. Read chapter 8 of Dr. Dawidowicz’s book, Literature Reviews Made Easy so you see how you’ll use the information you’re organizing during this phase of the process.

Slide2 Continue reading

Guidesheet for the Dissertation Lit Review

Throughout your coursework you have written a number of literature reviews. Some with as many as 15-20 sources; with each assignment preparing you for this…

The Dissertation Literature Review


While there are many resources available to help you wade through the biggest, most comprehensive, most stressful (oops, sorry), most wonderful analytic writing assignment of your career thus far; I suggest Dr. Paula Dawidowicz’s book, “Literature Reviews Made Easy: A Quick Guide to Success.” Based on this book, I developed a guide for you to use as you plan out your weekly/daily tasks to keep moving forward. Below is a link to the pdf.

Literature Review ToDo List: Dr. Darci’s Guidesheet

Literature Review To Do List

Note: The green rows within the guidesheet are places in the process that will take the most time. Take that into account when setting your deadlines.

Don’t Waste Valuable Time Researching what you Don’t Need

As one of Dr. D’s Mentees, I will have you write your Quarter Goals and Tasks according to this chart. I am of the opinion that structure is good, particularly when you find yourself under a pile of research papers (even if they’re digital pdf’s) and can’t see the light of day. Having brainstormed, conducted an abstract review, developed an outline, and organized your reading into matrixes (fancy word for tables) all before you begin writing is critical to keeping focused and not wasting time. Do I have your attention now?

Give it a go, and see if this decreases your anxiety!

Your humble dissertation mentor ~Dr. Darci

Photo on 6-9-14 at 2.55 PM #3