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.
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.
Theoretical vs. Conceptual Framework
Generally speaking, theories used in academic research are a collection of ideas that can be used to explain things that happened in the past, to describe things that are happening right now, and to predict things that may happen in the future.
Theoretical Framework is a well known theory that can be used:
- as a lens through which a researcher views the topic (qualitative study)
- deductively; to test the theory in a specific circumstance (quantitative study)
- inductively; as an emerging pattern (mixed methods)
In a quantitative study; theoretical framework is used to make the hypothesis or prediction of the outcome of the study. The purpose is to see if that theory “applies” in a specific situation and circumstance. The quantitative data will either further support the theory or it won’t.
What is innovative?
As a student in the Learning, Instruction, and Innovation PhD program, at Walden University, at some point you will struggle with what innovative really means. It appears to be a simple question as first, but applying it to educational research is more difficult than you think. You will be asked to defend that your dissertation topic is innovative in addition to filling a necessary gap within the literature. The response I give students regarding what innovative means is that it is a research idea that studies:
- Something new used in an old way
- Something old used in a new way
- Something new used in a new way
One of our very own Dr. D’s mentees expanded on this idea in her post Does Technology Really Make the Innovation Innovative?
There’s a journal titled Journal of Educational Research and Innovation (JERI). The site describes the journal’s focus this way, “JERI aims to provoke conversation about emerging ideas, stimulate innovation in practice, and encourage diversity of opinion. Perhaps, taking a look at articles accepted for this journal might be a good place to begin?
As you know, I love all things Google, and this company is known for being innovative. So maybe we should be looking at the Educational Innovation Research they deem worthy of being studied? And then maybe even look for a job as a Researcher there? Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?
Another source of inspiration might be The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) who has recently made a series of videos showing and encouraging students to be innovative. While the introduction video embedded below focuses on STEM innovation, (who can argue that technology that saves baby’s lives is innovative) there are some real gems built within the video that may inspire you on the research side of innovation. Can you pick them out and share them below in a reply?
While much of our dissertation journey is just that, a journey, you will at some point have to finalize your topic. You will need to be passionate about it and be ready to dedicate your life to a very focused aspect of education and innovation. Remembering this….
I hope this helps you begin your own journey in determining whether or not your study topic is innovative or not.
Your mentor ~Dr. Darci