#AcWri, #LTEC6040, #phdchat, Research, Research Methods

Search and Organize: The Literature Review

 

As you launch into a new research project, it is critical to think about how you will SEARCH and STORE an empirical literature search. Much of this organization starts with identifying a well-defined topic of study, and then identifying literature and scholarship around the previous work in this area. This process should support how you define your research topic scope/focus (e.g. inclusions/exclusions), established research methods (e.g.data collection/analysis), existing results/findings, and potential research suggestions for further investigations.

Step 1. Identify and Select a Research Topic to Study

For my #LTEC6040 early career scholars, the focus of study is geared towards digital learning/teaching. To prepare for a literature search, I suggest a few preliminary steps to SELECT and IDENTIFY a specific TOPIC for their research projects:

  • Interest: Find something you want to know more about so you remain interested and engaged in the project investigation. This might be related to your research agenda, either for your thesis/dissertation or general interests of study.
  • Ideas: Browse current periodicals (e.g. The Atlantic, Education: NPRNew York Times, Time), and online news resources for trends in the field you are looking at for digital teaching/learning (e.g. Inside Higher Ed, The Chronicle, Ed Surge, etc.).
  • Scope: Is your topic manageable? Avoid choosing a research topic that is too broad (too much information) or too narrow (too specialized/new/limited in appeal to find enough information). Consider limiting the time span, identifying a specific digital learning setting, or limiting this to a particular sample population/course/instructional method/lens.
  • Time: Choose a research topic you can work on for a set period of time. For example, this semester (3-4 months) is the length of time to set up a small-scale study, complete the ethics review, recruit a sample population, and start on a draft of a journal article. Always plan enough time to go through the empirical literature as you prepare the investigation and draft the paper.
  • Approach: There are different approaches possible for each research topic. Scholarly papers can analyze or explain a concept, narrate events, design, or developments in the field, or even argue for or against theory or idea. Additionally, you might choose to focus on a philosophical, historical, sociological, psychological, scientific, etc. approach.
  • Perspective:  Research topics can be examined through a variety of scholarly perspectives. Each research perspective or lens requires different sources of information so it is important to establish what aspect of the topic interests you most from the start.
  • Clarity: Be clear about the topic you are researching. Your research topic might need some adjustment as you gather information; however, you should always have a well-defined focus for your topic of search to ensure you stay on track and avoid wasting time with your literature search.

Step 2. Find Scholarly and Peer-Reviewed Evidence

Once this RESEARCH TOPIC is identified, next step is the literature review. This is critical part of research helps you to identify scholarly publications with evidence and investigation processes for your topic. Hart (1998) believes the literature review is an evaluative process is to determine how this empirical publications to answer the  following QUESTIONS for your scholarly search:

  • What are the key sources?
  • What are the major issues and debates around the topic?
  • What are the key theories, concepts, and ideas?
  • What are the epistemological and ontological grounds fro the discipline?
  • What are the political standpoints?
  • What are the origins of this topic?
  • What are the definitions involved with this topic?
  • How is knowledge on the topic structured and organized?
  • How have approaches to these questions increase our understanding and knowledge?

Step 3. Limit and Refine the Empirical Search

To help you keep your focus and direction for the literature search, it is critical to have a definitive argument/focus for your study. To best evaluate the scholarly works, Belcher (2009) offers suggestions to refine your literature review by reading materials that contribute to the central argument of your manuscript and limiting the following items for your search:

  • Set a time limit:  i.e. read nothing written over 10 years ago, five, or two (depending on your topic of research)
  • Language: limit to articles in English (or designated languages/preferences)
  • Questionable publishing outlets e.g. trade journals, non-peer reviewed, some conference proceedings not always suitable
  • Different geographical areas (by author country of origin)
  • Different time periods (related to your genre — this might apply to humanities more)
  • Different kinds of experiments (by your methods of study/research)
  • Different kinds of participants (by research sample type, size, etc)
  • Different variables (e.g. gender, age, etc.)
  • Without your keywords in the title or abstract – focus your search for these items
  • Non-electronic formats – if you can’t access the research from home/library resources

Step 4. Establish a System to Organize the Research Collection

Be sure to keep track of papers collected into a system of review. This might involve storing files, taking notes/annotations, and organizing articles into a citation system. I suggest setting this up early in your research life and I would definitely encourage you to use citation management software to track, store, and annotate articles you find for your literature search. Here are two platforms I use to tame the citations and literature collections [Learn more about citation management via the Research in Action podcast, episode no. 36]:

  1. Mendeley is a combination of a desktop application and a website which helps you manage, share and discover both content and contacts in research. You can store, save, annotate, and share documents with scholarly collaborators, plus manage and sync your references with a team in a group, or for yourself. You can easily drop in PDFs into the system to tag, cite, highlight, and organize your literature review. This is an excellent tool for team research and writing projects working from a distance.
  2. Zotero is utilized by a number of scholars as it is “an easy use tool easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources.” Zotero hosts research groups and individuals who want to connect and collaborate with other scholars OR discover the works of others. It contains several disciplines through which a user can keep updated on and search for people to connect with. It is free to sign up and you download it to your computer.

Step 5. Search, Track, and Locate Relevant Papers

Find a way to organize and keep track of what you are searching (terms, keywords, filters, search strings, etc.) and where you might be finding these resources. Depending on your institution or access, you might not have a way to find ALL THE LITERATURE. Here are a few ways to expand your literature expedition and get access to empirical papers beyond your reach:

  • Search, Track and Set Alerts: Record the different search strings to recall what you find and perhaps to set up an alert (e.g. in Scopus, Summons, Google Scholar, etc.) that is relevant for this research topic or methodology. Here’s a screenshot of a Google spreadsheet for search for one of my projects: Screen Shot 2016-06-19 at 1.15.32 PM
  • Google Scholar search the “Cited by ###” section of the site: this is to identify other relevant paper on topic or learn more about this research thread, i.e. a discovery search for missing literature. This will also bring about the “grey” research that is not indexed or part of a database search.
  •  Use Backward & forward referencing search method: for collecting and reviewing publications to be inclusive of empirical literature. This might bring about relevant publications to be included in your own review and give insights to your topic OR the research methodology.
  • Search for Publications Beyond Reach: Articles that you are not able to access at your institutional library or databases I have access to, I will tweet #iCanHazPDF [in action #icanhazpdf] to ask my professional network on Twitter OR even connect to the author (by email, social network, etc.) to ask for a pre-print copy. Beyond this you can find articles via other academic search engines with access, such as Sci-Hub, Semantic Scholar, and many more research databases.

Step 6. Process and Understand the Literature Gathered

Beyond these methods for storing papers, think about how you will process and organize your literature collection. You might have notes drafted as you review to identify themes, issues, and concepts you want to include for your own paper. Here are few tips/tricks I’ve honed as I search for literature:

  • Take Fewer Notes: Tag articles in the software,  group articles into specific folders, skim abstracts to code/organize, and identify literature for easy recall and use later. Have a system for your own tags or references to recall/use later when writing. Make meaningful labels that connect to your specific research focus/scope.
  • Create an Annotated Bibliography: For smaller literature searches (or team support efforts) start a reference list of your citations in APA 6th Edition format with a brief line or two making about the study, methods, findings + personal thoughts on articles/methods you read for each citation. Create annotations on this reference list, these are notes, on why this paper is relevant and could be helpful for your own research.
  • Concept Mapping the Literature: It might help you to create a visual or graphic organizer to map out these ideas and piece items together for your own manuscript. This might be digital or even analog — break out the markers, crayons, post-its and more! Check out the great suggestions Pat Thomson offers on “spaces between the literature” for reviewing research; a.k.a. bushwhacking
  • Don’t Wait to Write: From the annotations and notes you have made on the collected papers, start organizing how and where they might fit into your article draft. These preliminary notes might be rough; however, if you pop some of your literature into an outline of a paper this will help you write a draft of an article when you have your data collected and analyzed.

What other advice do you have for getting started on a new research project? What suggestions do you have for searching and organizing a literature review? Let me know — I’m always keen to get a few new ideas for scholarship and practice. Thanks!

References:

Belcher, W. L. (2009). Writing your journal article in 12 weeks: A guide to academic publishing success. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Inc.

Hart, C. (1998). Doing a literature review: Releasing the social science research imagination. Sage.

 

#AcWri, BreakDrink, Conference, Podcast, publication, Research

The Scholar-Practitioner Paradox for Academic Writing [@BreakDrink Episode No. 8]

I have been thinking about the needs and challenges higher education and student affairs professionals have with regards to evidence-based practices. In higher education, there is no shortage of topics and ideas to explore. I have been fortunate to collaborate with both scholars and practitioners in education to study a number of issues, including scaled-open learning, digital learning strategies, social media policies/guidance, mentoring programs, and networked experiences, just to name a few.  Beyond this short list, there are a number of practitioners who have reached out and we’re in the process of establishing research plans for professional development, mapping competencies to training, and leveraging technology in networked communities. My work partnering and collaborating with scholar-practitioner better informs my research methods and in explaining the findings/implications.

Scholar-practitioners generate new knowledge to improve practice, yet how they prioritize and go about their work varies with where they are on this scholar-practitioner continuum (Wasserman & Kram, 2009). The challenge with this work is there is VERY LITTLE TIME professionals in higher ed have to do scholarly work. When you are working in an educational service role for a 12-month contract, it is a challenge to move through the research process. Wasserman and Kram (2009) observed how competencies, needs, and values align with the competing roles of the scholar-practitioner to match either the work or research interests. Scholarly habits and the writing process requires deep concentration and focus on thinking critically to endure through a research project — from the study design, methodological planning, recruitment of participants, to publication and dissemination of findings.

Although higher education administrators and staff are in the best position to analyze programs, student populations, and services — there is not enough scholarship produced from professionals IN the field.

In their book, A Guide to Becoming a Scholarly Practitioner in Student Affairs, I think Hatfield and Wise (2015, p. 6-8) touch on a few reasons why practitioners do not often contribute to academic writing and publications:

  • Not enough reading – that is, not as knowledgeable of current research in (and out of) the field, theories, and evidence-based practices from academic outlets
  • Not expected of positions and not valued – undervalued and underutilized research skills; some of these skills may have been minimal based on training, education, experience, etc. as it is not required in administrative positions
  • Second-class citizen syndrome – some might not have a terminal degree (Ph.D., Ed.D., etc.) or if they do, little academic scholarship has been completed beyond their dissertation work; also feel on a different level of the faculty at their institution (and often treated that way).
  • Inadequate academic preparation – research, evaluation and assessment training from each graduate program varies and many question skills and competency for research and publishing
  • Silos on campus – little interaction between departments, divisions, functions, and academic departments exist although we are trying to support the whole student.
  • Lack of motivation – when was the last time you saw “scholarship and research” in a practitioner’s job description or expectation to participate in scholarly conferences and publishing?

 

Many of the above items, I think, are describing student service/affairs professionals in the United States — as I have a number of higher ed colleagues who are required to produce research in their staff role. There is no shortage of op-ed pieces often shared among higher education social networks, blogs, podcasts, videos, and more. The issue is we rarely see published conference proceedings, journal articles, or academic outlets producing PEER-REVIEWED pieces from and about practice contributing evidence and understanding from the field.

Over the past few weeks, I have been talking with Jeff Jackson (via our @BreakDrink podcast) about this challenge and what we are witnessing among practitioner peers. The first installment “on academic writing and scholarship” Jeff and I dig into academic writing/scholarship for BreakDrink Episode No. 8, where we discuss the differences of Academic vs. Practitioner Conferences. From the book by Hatfield and Wise (2015), chapter three talks about presenting at professional conferences; however, none of the associations shared offer any published conference proceeding for presentations shared and are not the same as submitting a paper or academic poster for another association that is more scholarly in nature. I think Hatfield and Wise (205) offer a decent introduction to scholarly writing for the novice student affairs professional  — but I think it is lacking in a few areas (as detailed in the podcast and notes below). If you are interested, feel free to read this book review (Delgado & McGill, 2016) and listen to our thoughts via the podcast here:

@BreakDrink Episode No. 8 – Academic vs. Practitioner Conferences [SHOW NOTES]:

Episode No. 8,  might be part 1 of a few series on this topic about “being an academic” or “scholarly work.” Jeff and I have recorded a few meanderings as we think/share on this topic. If you have questions or want to know more about the following items, let us know: mentoring for #AcWri, how to put together a manuscript, proposing a conference paper, data management, or starting a peer-review journal OR being part of an editorial board. Let us know! 

Conferences Run Down in 2017: Scholar vs. Academic Conference

American Educational Research Association (AERA) hosts a research/scholarly conference annually and this year #aera17 conference was in San Antonio, TX with Jeff in attendance. This professional association is HUGE, but thankfully it is broken down into Divisions and  Special Interest Groups (a.k.a. SIGs). Division I is Jeff’s Jam: Education in the Professions as he also attends the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and perhaps Division J may be where some of the doctoral/graduate scholars hang out. Related to this association you will find THE journal, Educational Researcher, that is well-regarded by scholars; however AERA also has AERA Open and other publication outlets.

We just wish we saw more of this at practitioner conferences. Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA) also held their annual conference at the same convention center in San Antonio, TX back in March. Both Jeff and I were there, and we attended a session on publishing in the NASPA journals from this association [Sadly the new Technology in Higher Education: Emerging Practice was not represented in this session this year.] It’s not as though sessions at Student Affairs or Practitioner conferences do have a poster session, and I have seen “Research Papers” presented at ACPA Convention and NACADA has offered Research Symposiums at regional conferences.  The conferences mentioned in Chapter 3 of Hatfield and Wise’s (2015) book: ACPA, NACA, NACADA, NASPA, ACUHO-I, NODA, & NIRSA

Academic Conferences We Have Also Attended to Note:

 

Conference Proceedings 101

Conference proceedings are scholarly papers a number of academics/researchers include on their vitae for the tenure and promotion. This is the “carrot” as to why faculty or scholars would attend a conference and allow doctoral researchers grants to travel, beyond the value of networking and discussions with peers. A proceeding could be a short (or long) paper presented at a conference, and sometimes there are even print proceedings published for your conference abstracts/papers (e.g. #SMsociety15 proceedings). All papers typically have a specific format (e.g. AECT’s manuscript requirements) and are submitted for a formal (typically blinded) peer-review process before they are accepted. Typically these are shorter papers or a conference abstract (not a beginning of a journal article abstract format), where you present your completed research projects. A number of social sciences and education conferences have specific formats beyond the APA Style 6th Edition, but that is a good start. If accepted, you will typically present your paper at the conference in a condensed format, such as 10-25 minutes, with a set of other papers in a single session. Each presentation is directed to showcase research by describing a brief literature overview, research methods (data collection, analysis) and findings/implications. This might be moderated by a discussant, moderator, or not at all with a brief (2-5 minutes) for Q&A at the end of your presentation/session time slot.

Other formats typically at scholarly conferences we have seen — but this is not an inclusive list:

  • Conference abstract (1000-2500 words) – how to guide and killer abstract writing
  • Full Papers (up to 8000-10.000 words)
  • Notes  or Work/Research In Progress
  • Poster Sessions (also via a device, e.g. laptop, tablet, etc.)
  • Workshops/Hands-on Sessions (e.g. how to use R-Studio for text mining)
  • Competitions or Expos — challenge/solution program feature to showcase work
  • Plenary/Keynotes
  • Doctoral Colloquium
  • Mentoring Programs

Episode F.A.Q.

  • Q: Is it considered a self-plagiarism to reuse (published) abstracts for talks? A: Yes. You want to avoid text recycling and should NOT but publishing the same work to different publication outlets.
  • Q: Is presenting about my program or an assessment of an initiative at my campus research? Does this count? A: Maybe. Did you get IRB approval from your institution before collecting data? Are you following the scholarly practice of your educational/social science peers? If not — this might be an assessment. Still great — but it could not be submitted as peer-reviewed conference proceeding or journal article.
  • Q: What is this Yellowbook that Jeff referred to during the podcast? A: It was known as a “phone book” and it’s directory of names of people and businesses for you to locate their contact information. You might use the Google or another search engine these days for said things. Apparently, Yellowbook as rebranded to “yb” and now has a website: https://www.yellowpages.com/
  • Q: Why is Tony Parker out for the rest of the NBA season? A: He injured his quadriceps tendon on Wednesday, May 2nd. {tear!}
  • Q: What is Fiesta? A: A 10-day annual party celebrating culture, food, fun, and parades in San Antonio, TX that typically falls at the end of April. More about Fiesta. Best tagline: “A party with a purpose” https://www.fiesta-sa.org/

Our Pro-Tips for Attending Academic Conference:

  1. Prepare for the Conference: Review the conference website to see what research is being presented, who will be attending, and who you should meet (new & friends) while you are both at this event. Are you a fan girl/boy of a particular researcher and you want to chat about their work/your work? Are you hoping to collaborate with other scholars? Do your homework and figure out who will be there. Maybe you want to set up a meeting over a meal/coffee/drinks OR find a particular session where you can be introduced to new peers.
  2. Attend the First Time Attendee Session (if they have one): Get the lay of the conference land and get a good overview/guide to what is going on during the event. Is there a mixer with food and/or drinks? Attend and meet a few people. Prepare to be social and have your own “elevator pitch” about what you are currently studying or working on right now. Think about this before you show up to the conference.

Overall, we think higher education professionals could do better with sharing MORE research-based information at our conferences. Many of these sessions are often hidden within the general program sessions and/or found in a poster session — that is often not well-attended. Hatfield and Wise (2015, p. 8) challenge practitioners to research by asking:

If you could give voice to those who were marginalized, if you could change the field of student affairs through your voice, if you could create better collaborations across campus with our academic colleagues, and if you could share your insights with parents, students, and other invested stakeholders so that they will know what we contribute to student learning and development, why wouldn’t you?”

Why are we not encouraging more scholar-practitioner collaborations? And what incentives could you offer early career researchers and senior scholars to attend these conferences? These are ponderings we are thinking about from reading this book (Hatfield & Wise, 2015) on SA scholarship. We think it’s a decent starting guide to getting into academic writing. Sharing evidence-based initiatives are required to be relevant in higher education. This value needs to be showcased more by and with student affairs, student services, and those not on an academic track to offer others insight to the work we are doing.

@BreakDrink Podcast ShoutOuts

 

If you have a thought or two, please share it with us via one of these channels. We’d love to hear from you on any one or all of following the “BreakDrink” podcast channels:

We welcome comments, questions, and more! If you happen to listen to Apple Podcasts a.k.a. iTunes, please consider leaving us a rating and review. Thanks!

References:

Delgado, A., & McGill, C. M. (2016). A Guide to Becoming a Scholarly Practitioner in Student Affairs by Lisa J. Hatfield and Vicki L. Wise (review). Journal of College Student Development57(7), 898-900.

Hatfield, L. J., & Wise, V. L. (2015). A guide to becoming a scholarly practitioner in student affairs. Stylus Publishing, LLC.

Wasserman, I. C., & Kram, K. E. (2009). Enacting the scholar—practitioner role: An exploration of narrativesThe Journal of Applied Behavioral Science45(1), 12-38.

#AcWri, #AcWriMo

Accountability for Writing with #AcWriMo

Academic Writing Month (#AcWriMo) is a month-long academic write-a-thon that happens every November. Are you in it, to win it? I am!

acwrimo-unsw

Thanks to @CharlotteFrost for setting up the 1st #AcWriMo in 2011 (she’s also the founder and director of @PhD2Published) to coordinate a collaborative peer effort around accountability for academic writing.  After the first #AcWriMo ended, many embraced the #AcWri hashtag to continue a the discussion & discourse around academic writing (Follow: @AcWri). The PhD2Published blog shares ideas and inspiration for #AcWriMo – to follow these tips via the blog, follow the Twitter account, or “like” the Facebook page.

I’ve done #acwrimo in the past during my dissertating phase, so I know it works. This is a great peer community to help keep writing in check and supports my #acwri progress. This year I’ve set my #AcWriMo goals for November to wrap up a few writing and research projects. My priority is the green list, as these are active manuscripts in progress and need to be submitted before the month’s end. Then I’ll move right to publications in development, and future research ideas to tease out. Ask me how it goes this month – PLEASE!

22742710956_3dd118705a_o

Good news. As of day 3, I am already finished with green list #1 – first draft of this manuscript is being edited and sent to the editors before the week is done. I have also made some progress on the Research I.P. for the IRB application and Research design on mentoring thanks to a meeting with collaborators this evening.

It might be day 3, but it’s NOT TOO LATE TO JOIN IN the #AcWriMo 2015 challenge => here are the 6 basic rules from the @PhD2Published blog:

  1. Set your writing goal(s) & plan. This can be in words, hours, or end products. You decide. (Check out the PhDometer app or 750 Words site to help you measure!)
  2. Make it public. Make it known. SIGN UP and let your goals & plan be known on the AcWriMo 2015 Sign-Up Form and then return to edit daily your progress. Peer pressure can do wonders! Check out WHO is participating from around the world on the #AcWriMo Map.
  3. Draft a writing strategy. Plan how to accomplish your goals. Organize your schedule for your uninterrupted #ShutUpAndWrite time. PLAN TO WRITE IN ADVANCE!
  4. Share your writing progress. Post it publically. Twiter, blog, Facebook, Instagram — share with the hashtag #AcWriMo how things are going AND track your daily progress on the community #AcWriMo PUBLIC Accountability spreadsheet.
  5. Keep the #AcWriMo-tivation going. Don’t slack off. Write like it matters. Push yourself to reach your goals — chunk out projects, writing sections, and manuscripts to GIT ‘R DUN!  December will be here sooner than you think…
  6. Declare your results. Update the spreadsheet or whatever space you are keeping track of your writing progress — then let the #AcWriMo community know about your writing results at the end of the month. It helps to share and be accountable in the open — it is also a chance to get support, cheers, and feedback along the way.

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get your academic writing ON! See you out there, #AcWriMo!

 

networkedscholar, Research

Being A Networked Scholar

Using social media and being a networked scholar allows provides you with an online, research presence and connects you to academics inside and outside your field. The power of open, social networks, allows academic to connect to research and researchers across disciplines. Consider all the ways you can collaborate and share in social media. A growing number of scholars have adopted and joined these online scholarly communities to meet other like-minded scholars, solicit for research support, share project progress, and disseminate findings beyond a conference publication or journal article. A core value of open, online networked scholarship is it is “a place where scholars can congregate to share their work, ideas and experiences” (Veletsianos, 2013, p. 648).  There are a number of researcher identification and citation tools connected to social media sites and scholarly metrics. Teaching and research information are being distributed and shared across platforms and communities.

elearn14-digital-scholarship-21-638

“It is a critical time to rethink how research is produced, distributed, and acknowledged.”

(Pasquini, Wakefield, Reed & Allen, 2014, p. 1567).

As I investigate workplace learning and performance, it has been helpful to blog and bounce ideas off on others on Twitter. I have used Mendeley to work on literature reviews, Google+ hangouts for research team meetings, Google documents for collaborative writing/research, searched Academia.edu or ResearchGate to access publications, and posted academic results to SlideShare. These are just a few ways I like to “show my work” and work in the open as a scholar. Being social and online allows me to reflect on my academic teaching and research scholarship experiences, and it has connected me to a great number of academics who I learn and research among.

If you or another academic colleague are thinking about how social media and networks can impact your teaching, research, and service scholarship, then here are a few insights George & I shared via Royal Roads University post on networked scholarship.

Network with colleagues

Higher education faculty and academics are adopting social media in growing numbers. A 2011 survey, for example, found that 45 % of higher education respondents use Facebook for professional, non-classroom purposes. Joining social media networks allows scholars to connect with colleagues, offer resources and discuss issues of professional interest.

Solicit feedback and reflect on your research and teaching

Academics increasingly share their work online, often engaging in activities that impact practice. Academic-focused social networking sites, such as Academia.edu and Mendeley, and general interest sites such as Twitter and SlideShare provide scholars with places to distribute, discuss and expand on their research and teaching.

Reach multiple audiences

In sharing in open social networks, scholars enter into an interdisciplinary territory and often break down barriers between academic disciplines. Not only are the traditional walls of the academy thinner online, but academic work could reach broader audiences, such as practitioners and journalists.

Cultivate your identity as a scholar

Social media and online networks allow scholars to manage their online identity, track their citations, identify their spheres of influence and connect with colleagues. These tools support different ways in which knowledge can be produced, shared, negotiated and acknowledged. Learn more about a few of these tools here and here.

Become more open

Using social media and online social networks means being a tad more open, and that’s good for all of us. Openness is the practice of sharing resources and materials (e.g., syllabi, lectures, research papers) in a way that allows others to retain, reuse, revise, remix and redistribute them. Social media and online social networks often support an ethos of openness, enabling academics to share their work more frequently. A more open approach to scholarship allows knowledge and education to flow more freely and to be used more widely.

What advice do you give early career researchers and academics who are just getting started with social media?

I am not naive to say that being a networked, social scholars does not have any issues. What challenges do you see in being part of the “open” and involved in networked scholarship? Let me know. A follow-up blog post on this particular question and issue to come…

References:

Pasquini, L., Wakefield, J., Reed, A. & Allen, J. (2014). Digital Scholarship and Impact Factors: Methods and Tools to Connect Your Research. In Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education 2014 (pp. 1564-1569). Chesapeake, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved June 1, 2015 from http://www.editlib.org/p/148918.

Veletsianos, G. (2013). Open Practices and Identity: Evidence from Researchers and Educators’ Social Media Participation. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(3), 639-651.

A version of this blog post is cross-posted on the Royal Roads University website.

#phdchat, Reflections

So You’re Thinking About a PhD…

In talking to my exploring major students on campus and other professionals in the field — I often share about my Ph.D. experience and talk about what it means to be a doctoral researcher.  Often I am asked about my Ph.D. program, my line of research, and how “I like it.” I often say I’m too close to it to really give advice, but I’m happy to talk about my experience and answer questions as I can or refer to others.

phd
Last fall at the #nacada13 conference in Salt Lake City, UT, I was part of a doctoral researcher panel on this topic: 
How To Hack Your Ph.D.: Being a Doctoral Student & Academic Advisor and a few #HackPhD Notes on Storify

It was a full house. Not surprised. There has been a growing interest among colleagues interested in pursuing a Ph.D. I am often asked about my Ph.D. research, progress, and if others should get into the same program or even start a Ph.D. To be honest, I am not sure I have the answers to these questions. I am too near the subject right now…

I’ve read a great number of books on the topic of graduate work, Ph.D. survival, writing, publishing, research, and more – but really, it was for my own inquiry and nerdy interest.  Like any good academic/career counselor, I usually ask those interested in a Ph.D. about their own motivations and rationale for the interest in doctoral research.

So you’re thinking about a Ph.D.? I have 10 questions AND prompts for you! I am not sure it will help — but I thought I might as well put these “you wanna pursue a Ph.D.” questions out there others who are considering the Ph.D. track. Take these questions with you as you ponder your Ph.D. goals, research potential graduate programs, apply to potential programs, and, even, start your first semester of your doctorate program:

  • What career goals do you have? List both your short-term and long-term goals in a statement. Write them out, read, and reflect.
  • How does your current work experience (resume/CV) relate to your career goals and interest in a Ph.D. program? Reflect on your relevant experience.
  • How your master’s degree or other educational credentials relate to and support your career goals? Describe your academic experience and background.
  • If you were going to seek out letters of recommendation for your Ph.D. program, who would write your letters of recommendation? Why? What might they say about you? List at least three individuals who would be your academic reference, and consider what they might say about your application to a scholarly program.
  • Do you have any scholarly or peer-reviewed writing samples? If so, please consider how they might be submitted and reviewed by a potential Ph.D. program. If not, what articles or journals interest you in your area. Research!
  • What is your research interest? Often you will have to complete a “Statement of Research Interest” so explain the areas or topics you want to study. If applicable, also consider for research:
      • Any specific theories or models of interest?
      • What seminal work in the field have you read?
      • What will you use to guide your research focus? Authors? Disciplines?
      • What is your preferred research methodology?
      • What is your research methods “worldview”?
  • What will you contribute to the doctoral research and your Ph.D. program? Explain the unique knowledge and skills you will bring into a doctoral program as a potential student
  • What will you contribute to the doctoral research and your Ph.D. program? Explain the unique knowledge and skills you will bring into a doctoral program as a potential student.
  • Where do you want to study? This question is for both geographic location and specific discipline home (e.g. education, sociology, economics, etc.).
  • How will your basic needs be met? Financial, emotional, and social support. It is important to think about your budget, personal relationships, professional objectives, and more when plotting for doctoral work. This will be a few years of your life — so be sure this how you want to spend it. Have this discussion with family, partners, and friends in advance. Be informed about scholarships and funding costs.
  • When is the right time? I doubt this ever has a great answer – but you need to determine this for you after answering the above questions. Decide if the Ph.D. route is right for you, and then if the timing is right or can be right. You can always make it work if you want it. [p.s. Did I say you should WANT to do a Ph.D.? That’s the only way to finish.]
Bonus Question: Who will mentor you through your Ph.D. progress? Faculty advisors at your campus will be great, but who else will you consider as part of your doctoral experience. Peers? Colleagues? Researchers in the field? Scholars, you admire/read?Doctoral candidates and early career researchers? Build your Ph.D. learning network NOW.
#AcWri, #AcWriMo

#AcAWriMo Reading: The Literature Review

In SAGE’s Doing a Literature Review, Hart (1998) defines the literature review as “The selection of available documents (both published and unpublished) on the topic, which contain information, ideas, data and evidence written from a particular standpoint to fulfill certain aims or express certain views on the nature of the topic and how it is to be investigated, and the effective evaluation of these documents in relations to the research bring proposed.”

Reviewing my literature this afternoon. #phdchat

I have been collecting and organizing literature, publications, and more on the topic of social media guidance for quite some time. I have been reviewing the key questions used for a typical literature search and review of my research topic (Hart, 1998):

  • What are the key sources?
  • What are the major issues and debates around the topic?
  • What are the key theories, concepts, and ideas?
  • What are the epistemological and ontological grounds fro the discipline?
  • What are the political standpoints?
  • What are the origins of this topic?
  • What are the definitions involved with this topic?
  • How is knowledge on the topic structured and organized?
  • How have approaches to these questions increase our understanding and knowledge?

In thinking about my own doctoral research, the literature review, a.k.a. Chapter 2 and part of Chapter 3 (methodology), often demonstrates a specialization in a topic and focus. For a number of doctoral researchers, the dissertation/thesis is requires a high level of scholarship, and it is an opportunity to make an original contribution to the field. Phillips and Pugh (1994) conducted a study around doctoral research and literature reviews, in which they identified nine definitions for originality:

  1. doing empirically based work that has not been done before;
  2. using already known ideas, practices or approaches but with a new interpretation;
  3.  bringing new evidence to bear on an old issue or problem;
  4. creating a synthesis that has not been done before;
  5. applying something done in another country to one’s own country;
  6. applying a technique usually associated with on are to another;
  7. being cross-disciplinary by using different methodologies;
  8. looking at areas that people in the discipline have not looked at before;
  9. adding to knowledge in a way that has not previously been done before.

It appears I will be working on #1, #6, & #7 with my dissertation research methodology. Enough talking about it, back to my literature review additions, and more writing. Go #AcWriMo Go! [p.s. Word count to date for #AcWriMo = 16, 271 now. How are you doing?]

References:

Hart, C. (1998). Doing a literature review: Releasing the social science research imagination. Sage.

Phillips, E. M., & Pugh, D. S. (1994). How to get a Ph. D.: a handbook for students and their supervisors. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press.