Milestone 1 | The Doctoral Dissertation Project


Milestone 1: Completed Literature Review

Work with your dissertation chair to determine any specific instructions or guidance that he or she may have for you about your topic selection development document.

During the previous dissertation course, you selected a topic, developed a research question, and started a literature review to begin building a theoretical frame, additional research questions, and (where appropriate) research hypotheses. Your first task in this course is to complete your literature review.

A thorough review of the literature is the foundation for all aspects of your dissertation. Although you have already completed a substantial review to help you compose the chapter 1 draft, the literature review for your dissertation is expected to be exhaustive. In other words, you need to have read nearly everything written about your selected topic and research question.

As you begin your work early in this course, continue to let the literature speak. A danger in research is “reading into” the literature what we want it to say rather than drawing from the literature what it does say (or the gaps where it does not speak). Further, your dissertation needs to be unique. Even at this stage in the process, you may still discover that someone has already answered your research question, and you must be prepared to make substantive modifications to your work.

  • Continue reviewing the literature; your full review may contain seventy-five or more sources. You do not want someone to look at your work and ask, “Why didn’t it include this notable source?”
  • As you review more literature, make any needed adjustments to your research question, theoretical frame, etc. (e.g., chapter 1).
  • Begin composing your literature review as chapter 2 of your dissertation. Chapter 2 will contain your entire review, while chapter 1 will contain just the very important sources that support and clarify your research.
  • Organize your review in various ways. See the BUS8105 Dissertation Proposal Template for some suggestions on how to organize your review.
  • Expect several rounds of feedback and revisions as you work with your dissertation chair. It will likely take you several weeks to complete.
  • Be sure to document sources that may help you in the methodology section of your work. What sources do others use to support how they design their research, especially for those studies that seem to be similar to yours? Keeping track of those scholarly and professional sources now can help you throughout the dissertation process.

Important Note: Dissertation writing is highly recursive. As you write material in one section, you may need to make some adjustments or additions in other sections in order to build a cohesive document. For example, your completion of the full literature review will likely create some changes for your chapter 1. As you wait for feedback from your dissertation chair/committee, use the time to draft some of those adjustments.

Submission Details:

  • Submit a full literature review paper. The length of the review will vary depending on the study type. Generally, your completed review will be at least 30–40 pages long.
  • Use APA style in preparing your paper and citing references.
  • Submit your paper to the Milestone 1 Submissions Area.
  • Notify your dissertation chair (e.g., via e-mail) when you have submitted the literature review.

Note: A successful dissertation requires self-directed behaviors. To successfully pass each dissertation course, you must successfully complete (pass) each milestone presented in the course materials. Additionally, you must complete the milestones in the order they are presented in the course. The tasks in some milestones may take you more than a week to complete. Finish each milestone before you move on to the next milestone. In your planning, also allow time for feedback from your instructor and revisions as part of completing each task.

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