Jennifer Reese-a fourth-year doctoral student in the Psy D program at the University of Denver-used what she calls the "scavenger hunt" approach for her lit review; she scanned reference sections of relevant books and journal articles and then found those referenced sources as well.She is validating the use of Jane Elliott's Blue Eyes Brown Eyes exercise, a behavior training method that uses discrimination against a person's eye color to teach Caucasians about prejudice and oppression."I know when I go to the reference sections, and I'm not finding any new things-when I keep turning up the same things over and over again," Foster says.
Then, take it one chapter at a time, dissertation advisers say.
PICKING A TOPIC When deciding your topic, keep in mind that you will undoubtedly spend the next few years immersed in it, says psychologist John Cone, Ph D, a professor emeritus at Alliant International University (AIU) and co-author with Sharon Foster, Ph D, of "Dissertations and Theses from Start to Finish" (APA, 1993).
Reese even spoke with Elliott-a retired schoolteacher who created the experiment in the 1960s-to get background on what similar studies had been done.
So how do you know when you've gathered enough for your lit review?
Cone advises the following steps to pick a topic: To narrow your focus, identify what within your chosen topic area interests you, says Foster, a psychology professor at AIU.
Bounce ideas off a mentor and consult the literature to determine what has been done before, she advises.
Also, consider choosing a topic that you've already been exposed to, such as through your master's thesis or a research project.
That's exactly what sixth-year doctoral student Jody Ernst did.
"Sometimes you are going to feel lost and like you don't know where you're going," Foster says.
"The reason for that is because you are trying to do several things concurrently-you're trying to learn about this whole field and get a conceptual framework of how to map out this area of research." But, it's nothing your classes haven't prepared you to take on, Foster says.