In this episode of Office Hours, Marvette talks about her 4 tips for avoiding the most common pitfalls of the literature review.
Hey friend, the time has come to finish your dissertation, graduate and become doctor. Welcome to office hours with Dr. Lacy where we talk about how to finally master this time management thing so you can stay on top of it without losing your mind. Every Wednesday you can find a new episode wherever you listen to podcasts, make sure you hit the subscribe button to make sure you never miss an episode. I’m Dr. Marvette Lacy, your dissertation writing strategist here to be with you along every step of the way. I would like to thank you for coming to today’s office hours. Let’s get started on today’s episode. Hey, how’s writing going? I know you don’t like the question, but let me tell you, when you join the finish your dissertation program, you will love that question. Clients often report feeling excited and joyful to go into their process even before they even get to the dissertation process, and that’s what I’m inviting you to do. I’m inviting you to come inside the group and join us so that you can get the structure you need and the tools that will help you to show up consistent and disciplined in your process. All you need to do is come on over to Marvette lacy.com/apply and sign up for the wait list and you will be the first notified when doors are open. See you soon.
We Always Have A Choice:
Hello, everyone. Welcome back to a new week in the podcast. Listen, I don’t know what day it is. I don’t know. Like after the holiday break, my brain is just like, are we not on vacation? Why are we doing things? So I legit am late getting this podcast out because I thought it was Tuesday and not Wednesday when it’s supposed to go out. So please learn from me. And I don’t know, like I don’t, I can’t say learn from me cause I did look at my calendar yesterday, but my brain just decided that yesterday was Monday and today was Tuesday. Um, but it’s all right, we’re going to get this episode out and I’m thankful that I have a plan and I know exactly what I’m supposed to be talking to you about today. Um, so shout out to my team and shout out to my past self and making this plan because had this been gear ago, two years ago, I would have just been like, Oh, well there’s no podcast going out or try again next week. And I’m sharing this because it’s a lesson in what it means to show up consistent. Right. So I could have very well and my past self would have been like, Oh, I, I messed up. I missed the deadline. So there was no point to try to do it F it, right. But we always have a choice. Like we always can choose to make our next best decision. Right. And so my next best decision is to sit here, record this episode and with the understanding that it may not go out at as regular time.
And you know that my podcast editor will probably be a little frustrated with me and Alex, my podcast manager would probably be a little bit frustrated with me because now I am holding up their work process because of an error on my part. And a lot of times what we tend to do is we get caught up in this cycle of beating ourselves up and being like, right. I could have gone down this road of, well, you should have been better. You should have planned more carefully. You should have, you should be more on top of it. Right. I can go down this spiral, but instead I’m being like, yup, I’m taking responsibility. I made the mistake. I wasn’t paying that much attention or whatever. Like I had a lot, whatever the situation, right. And a lot on my mind, whatever I made a mistake at the end of the day, the reality is it’s Wednesday. I was supposed to record this on Tuesday. And now I have the choice to sit here and record the podcast or go down a shit spiral. So I am sharing this because especially at this time of year and this time of the semester, there may have, there may be some things that have been on your list to do this semester that you didn’t get to, or maybe you have, you know, end of the semester projects. You know, usually there’s a lot of papers and things that you need to turn in for your classes. Um, and you may be like, why didn’t I start this earlier? Or I should’ve, you know, been working on this little by little and now I got to work up to the deadline.
Right? And you can go down that spiral of beating yourself up, which is not going to make you want to do whatever you need to do. And even more right. We think that if we beat ourselves up or if we’re hard on ourselves, that’s going to get us into action. But I want you to take a moment and pause and really ask yourself, does it really get you into action? And if it does get you into action, do you like how that feels? Right? Do you like how it feels to work under pressure in that way? Right. I know a lot of people, especially a lot of my clients, like I need a deadline and I need to work under that pressure of a deadline in order to get things done. And I like used to say this too, like I need a deadline, but ask yourself, how do you feel when you’re working towards that deadline in that way?
Right? Like, are you beating yourself up the whole time pulling all nighters, right? Because there’s like this tic-tok and y’all I have been going down a rabbit hole of tic tok, tick tock. That’s like, yeah, I’m not. Um, yeah, no, that the assignment is due at 12:00 AM or like 11:59 PM. But you know, it’s noon right now. I still have time. And then it’s like at 11:00 PM, you’re rushing. Okay. That’s not the point. Y’all excuse my randomness, but I just, it’s funny to watch it and tic tok, but like, I really want you to think about separating from the funny part and like allowing yourself a moment of pause of reflection right now, when you are doing things like working or you forgot something or you just didn’t, whatever the case is, you didn’t have an opportunity to get to it. How are you treating yourself?
How are you talking to yourself as you’re working on that thing? Whether it’s up to the deadline, whether it’s late, right? Like how are you talking to yourself? Because if you’re able to show yourself a little bit more compassion and you’re able to come from this place of right. I have taken responsibility, I did that, but here’s what I’m going to do to remedy it like when you are able to do that, it, it changes the conversation and it makes completing the task that much more easier, right? Like if you can take responsibility, like I did this and not say like, well, it was because of this. And so-and-so asked me to do that and I know I need to be better and I need to stop being so lazy and I need to be on top of it. If you can let that go. If you can be willing to put that on a shelf and just say, all right, what’s my next best decision. What can I do right now? Is there something I can do to still meet this deadline? Even if I can’t fully meet it or I can’t fully deliver, is there something I can do? So that was not my intention to talk about today, but me going through it, and I felt that in my spirit that somebody else needed to hear that. I wanted to share that with you. So I’m curious about your thoughts with that. Let me know, send me a message.
Client Spotlight: Paula:
Um, but today’s episode is about avoiding the common pitfalls of the literature review. But before we get into that, I want to do client spotlight and today’s client is Paula, Paula, Paula, Paula. Um, Paula started working with me a year ago. Yeah, around this time a year ago. Um, she had been in her program for awhile, um, and was coming up towards the deadline of when the dissertation needed to be completed. Like her clock was running out and she had been working on things and she had some challenges with past, um, chairs and, you know, just program in general, not being as supportive. Um, like I would dare to say like, almost like not having any support in that program, but really wanted to honor her commitment of finishing her dissertation and making progress. And so when she came, I, I asked her for, I usually ask clients, give me the most recent copy of whatever you’ve been working on as it relates to your dissertation, because I like to get a sense of your topic. I like to get a sense of your writing style. I like to get a sense of who you are.
And yeah, I get that information from talking to people one-on-one, but I get so much more information from your writing and I’m not looking at people’s writing to like critique it or to edit it. I’m legit reading your writing to listen to how you’re thinking. That might sound a little bit woo-woo, but I can tell a lot about how a student is thinking, how they think about themselves, how they think about their writing, how do they think about their topic, how they think about their standing in the program, how they think about their future from their writing. And that might be like how? I can’t fully explain or articulate how the, I can tell a lot from your writing. Um, and so I just tell people, like, I don’t care if it’s like the shittiest draft you’ve ever written, just send it to me because I’m looking for some information and it’s not about a critique of that. And so Paula sent me her most recent copy of her prospectus. Um, and she was saying that people kept telling her to write it over and whatnot. And, uh, you know, I, one of our very early sessions, I was like, you’re not going to like this, but you’re going to need to write this over. Right. And I wasn’t coming from the place of, I thought her topic was bad. Actually. Her topic is real dope, is so dope. Um, I was coming from the perspective of what I’ve shared a lot on the podcast is that a lot of people think that, um, when you start your proposal, like I was saying was that last week or a couple of weeks ago, you think that you just need to talk about a group of people, but you don’t have a topic when you have a clear topic, it means that you have clearly identified a problem that you are addressing.
And you’re taking a slice of that problem to explore, to test out a theory or to do something with that slice and yes, it involves a core group of people. But we need to focus on what is the problem you’re addressing. And so that was one of the main things for Paula is like, what is the problem? Like, yes, helping this group of people is very important, but what is the problem you’re addressing? And she fought me a little bit on it. Well, we got to a place and we got to a very clear problem. And then everything just clicked for her. And she, and a matter of maybe like a week or two was able to rewrite her prospectus, even write out like a full draft of the literature review to, and, you know, get filled up her committee. And she had defended that perspective. I feel like from our like original conversation, it may have been like a month and she was approved. She was approved to start her dissertation. I want that to sink in from one, like, cause I think people, sometimes I like really that that’s not possible or that’s not possible for me. But the power of coaching is when you have someone who is holding space for you. Who’s their their only attention is to focus on you and to focus on your project and get you to a place where you can have a clearly defined problem or a clearly defined topic that resonates with you. That reflects who you are. You’re not, you know, like I’m not pushing my agenda on my clients. When you can have someone who can help you get clear and help you pull like pull language, um, that clearly articulates what you want to do and how you want to do it. Magic happens.
That is how you can go really fast in a dissertation process. But a lot of times students are going to their chair, their advisor, and are like, word vomiting and the chair or the advisor doesn’t have the capacity to sit there and take that and put it into something or because their philosophy in terms of research or their life experiences don’t match yours per se, or they, they don’t, they didn’t have to, like, they don’t have any personal experience with your topic or anything in the area. It’s it can be difficult for them to get you to a place where it’s very clear and defined. And truthfully, a lot of advisors and chairs just don’t care to do it, no shade against you. They just don’t care. They’re just for them having to advise doctoral students, It’s just something that I have to do as it relates to their job description. And they don’t really care. And it’s not that they hate you as a person is just a, it’s not their favorite thing to do. Right. But I say that because a lot of people like, I don’t need a coach. I have my advisor. Even if you have the most supportive advisor chair, they still have other students, they still have other things to do. And they’re not working with a coach, most likely themselves to help them sort out their own mind drama. So how can they help you sort out your mind drama, let that sink in.
So when I say coaching, like it’s powerful. It is the most powerful thing that I have personally experienced and that my clients have experienced. And they’re able to do so much as a result. I like mean that. And if you have been on the fence about getting a coach, whether it’s with me or with someone else, I want to implore you to take that step, to try it out. Because when you find a coach that you resonate with, that you feel like gets your, been where you are, they’re they they’re living the life that you want to, work with them, go all in, be open to the process, because that is one of the things I most admire about Paula, how open she is to the process. And even when she wants to hang up on me and even if she’s crying or even if she’s like, this is some bullshit, I’m over it.
She still stays there and she still listens and she still is like, I’m gonna just consider it. So she has been able to pass her prospective, complete her proposal. She has, um, submitted IRB. And she’s about to prepare for data collection a year ago when I told her this was possible, she did not believe me. A year ago when I told her like, just do, like, if you just, just do what I say and be open to it, your life will change. And you know, you can ask Paula for yourself, but what I’ve witnessed over the time we’ve been working together is not only has things changed for her dissertation wise, but her life has changed how she thinks about herself, how she approaches situations.
It, it Blows my mind. And Paula is now like on team Lacy and she helps coach other students. I took, you all know, I took the November off and um, I took November off and we have a monthly group coaching session in the finisher dissertation program. And I asked Paula to fill in and y’all the call was so powerful. The people like felt it. And They felt so seen in the numbers, a lot of tears and a lot of emotions. It was powerful. I Was just blown away at the response to Paula. Um, I knew like she had it in her and she was a little bit like hesitant when I first asked her. But I hope that, that I hope that, um, coaching session helped reaffirm to her that she knows what she’s doing. She has been doing her work. She has been showing up. People look to her as a leader, as an example, as a possibility model, because she has all of that and more, and it’s not because of me. It’s the power of coaching. When you show up with a coach and when you do your own coaching for yourself, your whole life will change. This is far beyond the dissertation. This is just about your life. Like what life do you want?
What life do you want? Borrow like borrow, Paula’s like openness and courage. Get you a coach, change your life because I cannot wait to see what comes up for Paula. Not only is she on my team, a dissertation client, she is now a business client and she is going to change lives, Change lives. Because what I also do with clients is I help show you how to take your dissertation and translate that into a consulting business. A coaching business get paid for your gifts, get paid for your expertise. A lot of times we have been sold this, this dream that, Oh, we’re going to go to school. We’re going to get our degree. And then we’re going to find a faculty job or some other admin job. And it’s going to pay us all this money. But most of you who are listening to this are in the social sciences. I don’t know if you looked around, but the way that the payments are set up or the income is set up. Yeah. That dream is not really all that true. What would it mean for you to be like Paula and start working on your own income to have your income be in control? Like, yes, you can take a job cause she works full time as an admin, but she doesn’t have to depend on that money. She could depend on the money she can make for herself at any time, just because of the work she’s been doing, her dissertation, just because of the work she’s been doing in coaching. I want you to ask yourself, what would it mean for you to be able to be in that same position?
What would it mean for you to be able to do the same thing? So I just want to take today and just celebrate Paula. And if you have ever had, if you have ever had the pleasure of being in the energy of Paula, cause I didn’t even scratch the surface of who she is then you know how magical that is. And I’m so grateful to her for being a client. I’m grateful for her being on team Lacy. And she is definitely an example of what is possible. What is possible. So please go to Instagram or go to the Facebook community and say, Hey to her because she is wonderful and I would love, um, we’re gonna, she doesn’t know this. I’m going to get her on the podcast because you need to hear her story from her words, from her voice because it’s amazing. And it’s not even over. It’s not over. So let’s shout out to Paula.
Common Literature Review Pitfalls:
Okay. So avoiding the common literature review pitfalls. Yeah. We have talked about the literature view so much on the show and here’s the thing I know that I probably sound really different from your program or from your chair, but it’s, I want to save you the time, the heartache of writing draft draft, draft draft, and going down the black hole that is a literature review. If you remember nothing else, the literature review is your persuasive argument for why your study is needed. I will say that again, the literature review is your persuasive argument for why your study is needed. Right? Most people think, Oh, I’m going to go write this literature review. And I’m going to pull all of the articles that’s ever been written about my topic. And I’m going to summarize the topics or the studies. But no one wants to read 50 pages of you summarizing articles. Nope. No one wants to. Here’s the thing. By the time you made it to the dissertation, you are an expert. You’re already doctor, everything goes as a formality, right? You’re already the X like you’ve like passed your exams. You’re a candidate. ABD means all but dissertation, meaning you already have all the knowledge that the program is going to provide for you to go out and to the role and be doctor of whatever, right? Whatever your program or your area or your field is right. The dissertation is your opportunity. Like one of your first opportunities or your first major opportunity to demonstrate your expertise.
So like thinking about an example for me, as someone who does research right around sexual assault, like everyone can recite one in four, one in five college women, right will experience or yeah. Like will experience sexual violence. Right. Everybody can say that. Or like one to nine and when we start, you know, narrowing it down to like folks of color and right, we go across the gender spectrum, people can, can we know that? Right? It’s kind of like common knowledge. Right? So it would not make sense then for me to do a whole literature review explaining those statistics Oh gosh y’all statistics. Go with me, got to going too fast. But like, nobody wants to know that over and over. We want to know. Okay. And? What’s coming after that. Right. So I can go further and saying, well, we know that. We can go further and saying like, yeah, we know that, but do you know who those numbers are based on? Do you know whose voices are missing from this, this narrative, this common knowledge that we have?
Despite knowing these numbers, we’re still not supporting all students. Here’s how we’re not supporting all students. Here’s how that’s rooted in systemic oppression. Right now. I’m telling you my point of view, right? It’s it’s taken it beyond just one in four. Now I’m telling you, but why is this still happening? Why is this 50 years later? Why are we still talking about the same thing? It’s because you’re not capturing all the voices. And in my study, I want to capture the voices that are normally not capture. I want to talk to BIPOC folks about their experiences in reporting sexual assault on their campus. Because we just think like our systems are working, but they’re only work for a certain group of people. I want to know, how is it going for other folks who are on the margins? Like you start to see how, you start to see how now I’m getting more narrow. I’m telling you, like you have a good sense of where I’m coming from. Right? You have a good sense that I think it’s important to have BIPOC folks, voices included in the literature. You start to see that sexual assault isn’t just this like random thing that I think is deeply rooted in systemic oppression. Right? And that I’m going to center those voices in my project. That’s why it’s needed. Right. I built a case as to why that was needed. And just that short period of time. When you think about your topic and your study, what, what is your like angle per se? What do you believe that most like What are, where are you contributing to the conversation that most people are not contributing to? Right? Because there’s, at this point, you’re not going to find like a true gap in the literature most of the time, right?
Like some problem that hasn’t been explored at all, what you will find is that maybe we didn’t talk about it from this group’s point of view, or we didn’t talk about it in this way or using this method. Right. But we need to know that from you. A lot of times when I’m giving feedback on literature reviews, it’s, I’m always asking, where are you? Where’s your voice? I don’t care what the other voice is. I mean, I do, but I want to know what you think about the other voices. I want to know how this relates to your study, the literature review. Isn’t just some separate book report that you’re going to insert like into your draft. Right? A lot of times when I’m reading people’s dissertation, their chapter one and three is like, great. I hear you. I see you. And then you get to chapter two and I’m like, this is not the same energy as the other two. What would it mean for you to own your expertise, your expertise as a doctor and write your chapter two from the mindset of, I got something to say, and here’s what it is. Right? And still honoring the research and literature that has come before you, but saying like here, but here’s why this ain’t cutting it or this, or here’s why we need to go deeper. Or here’s, what’s missing from it. If I’m reading your literature review and I can’t clearly get that, I’m going to tell you to send it back. I mean, to write it over and your advisor and chairs, most likely going to tell you to go write it over.
And they may say it in the sense of, Oh, you just need to keep reading or you just need to keep writing. But what they’re really trying to tell you is your voice is missing. It doesn’t have a clear argument to it. So that is like the main thing that I want you to know when you’re thinking about the literature review.
You don’t know your argument. And so you’re just reading, reading, reading, and making notes and sure you got pages of notes. And like, I did this, right? I had notebooks filled with notes. I had computer folders filled with articles, but I could not translate that into a literature review and its because I hadn’t given my time, myself time and space to figure out what is my argument? What is it that I’m trying to say? Once I got clear on what I’m trying to say, reading those articles and writing became like, boom, it just, it just clicked. And so what I in the finish your literature review course, what I have people do is you first start by writing what you think about the topic. We, we first address that you’re going to think that you don’t know enough to start writing. You’re going to think that you need to read more in order to start writing.
And I say, let’s just put that all off for a minute and just write, what do you know about this topic? Because you know so much already about this topic, otherwise you wouldn’t have like you wouldn’t have been drawn to it. You have something to say. Cause I heard you when I was talking earlier that you’re like, but I don’t know. I don’t have an argument. You do. The only reason why you think you don’t is, cause you’re telling yourself you don’t, but you do. If you just allow yourself to open up your laptop and just brain dump out everything in your mind that it relates to your topic, you will be amazed, amazed how much comes out on that paper. If you truly allow yourself to just write out whatever comes up, you will be amazed at how much you know. You will start to see your argument form. You will start to see like what you want to say. So that’s, that’s our first step in the course. And then 10 articles at a time. Listen to me one zero, 10 articles at a time. I tell you to read those 10 articles. I show you how to write the notes for those articles and how to translate those notes into an actual draft. And then a series of mini drafts for four weeks to get to a full draft of your literature review. A lot of you are just trying to read and then summarize, but then it’s not making sense. Or you get to a full draft of the literature review and it doesn’t even reflect you. And then you give it to your chair and they give you feedback and they start asking you all these questions and you take offense to it.
Like, why are you, why are you poking holes in my drafts? Like, why are you asking me these questions is because they can see through your draft that you don’t have an argument. And because you don’t have an argument, you can’t defend or answer the questions that they’re asking. When you start off by like seeing what you’re thinking and reading from that perspective of building your argument, you have answers then for the questions or the feedback that your chair is going to provide. So we’re not going to go and just download any article that we think relates, start by writing. And that can be one of the most challenging and scariest things for students practice a little courage and just allow yourself to write. You’re the only one who’s going to see it, right? It’s for you. You don’t have to share it with anyone, but it’s going to help you streamline your thoughts. Okay. And so number one, right have an argument for chapter two, number two is just brain dump out what you know, to build your argument and then read articles, 10 articles at a time building that arc.
And don’t let that, and don’t make that mean that you’re not a good writer. You’re not a good researcher, accept that as a part of the writing process, that you’re going to go through multiple changes and multiple drafts. But the multiple drafts doesn’t have to be because you know, you didn’t summarize correctly. The multiple drafts is that your argument has shifted. And when you can think about it from the point of view of, I’m, building an argument, you’re less likely to take offense to any feedback. You’ll welcome the feedback. And you’ll be like, yes, thank you for helping me to make my argument stronger. Oh, I didn’t think about that in that way. Thank you. Or no, that’s not what I’m saying at all. Thank you for your feedback, but I don’t need that. Right? Like you can come from a place of being more decisive about your dissertation.
If you’re looking for more of like how to write the literature review, we have several episodes and hopefully Alex will have a chance to add those into the show notes so that you can go and listen to those. But this was more about like the mindset needed, because really that is what’s holding us back from doing anything how I started this, this episode.
So I would be curious to know, how was your literature review going? How are you approaching it? What is your argument that you’re building? And if you have any questions from this episode, you can let me know over on Instagram at qual_scholars, or you can come to the, uh, Facebook group, qualitative dissertations made simple, and we’re continuing the conversation there. We’re engaged there. I would love to know your thoughts. And one final thing is if you are interested, because I mentioned this briefly in the beginning, if you are interested in learning how to take your research, your dissertation, and translate that into business consulting coaching, I invite you then to join the happy free and pay collective, which is my group program that shows you how to finish your dissertation, take that expertise and everything that You have right now and build a six figure business. You will get access to the finish your dissertation program, as well as the business program. Let me know. The link is in, um, the bio and fill out an application and let’s see if you’re a good fit, but that is all for this week. I hope you’re having a wonderful week and happy December. I will talk to you all next week. Bye for now.
Join Finish Your Dissertation!:
Hey, you ready to take this work further? Then it’s time for you to join the finish your dissertation program. Finally get the tools, resources, and structure. You need to show up consistent and disciplined in your process. All you need to do is come on over to MarvetteLacy.com/apply and join the finish your dissertation wait list. I’ll see you there. Bye for now. Thanks. Thank you for joining in for today’s office hours. Make sure you come on Instagram and tag me at Marvette Lacy. Let me know what your thoughts were on today’s episode until next time. Do something to show yourself some love. I’ll talk to you next week. Bye for now.