How to Herd a Recalcitrant Octopus (the literature review)

May 23, 2018
 
Hello Future Doctor Friends!
 
Years ago when I started my own literature review, I read a metaphor on a doc student’s blog that really resonated with me, and it may with you too. The author said something to the effect that the process of writing the literature review can feel similar to herding a recalcitrant octopus, which then transitions into having a turangawaewae moment… finding a place where you belong, and of having a place to stand on and to speak from.
 
I loved this metaphor because the process of conducting the literature review is an exhaustive step in the dissertation journey. It can’t be rushed, is very time consuming, but once you have “herded” it, you have a solid foundation from which to build the case for your research. It’s a labor of love.
 
The literature review is a lot like telling a story about how every other researcher has made progress, but you are identifying a gap in the knowledge base and...
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