Week 1 On Track
Task 1: Read through the final project specifications under Week 1.
Task 2: Learn how to find various methodological studies in the library databases.
Task 3: Narrow your topic for your final project.
Task 1: Self-explanatory.
Task 2: The library is a fantastic resource for research. I recommend that you use the literature search instructions I am attaching to help you conduct a comprehensive database search for psychology, counseling, and related fields. You also can search for articles by the specific methodology, which is important in this class since you are required to find five quantitative, five qualitative, one mixed method, and one program evaluation study for your final project.
One way to search for specific methodologies is to perform your searches using the type of methodology you wish to find in the search terms. In the search box (top of the search page), type out a word or phrase that relates to your topic. In the drop-down box next to it, select “abstract.” In the second search box, type in the method you wish to find (i.e., qualitative, grounded theory, program evaluation, etc.). In the drop-down box next to it, select “abstract.” Narrowing your search terms to the abstract will more likely pull up articles that are that specific type of methodology.
Always make sure that the Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals box is checked. In graduate school, you must be using peer-reviewed articles. Also, make sure that you have Full text Unclicked. Many students want to limit their searches to full text but this may prohibit you from pulling up the most recent articles that may not be available in full text yet. If you come across an applicable study that is not available through the University library, you can contact the Library for assistance in locating the article.
Task 3: The final project is designed for counselors to learn how to apply research to treatment. The basis thesis is, “What is the efficacy of (a – treatment) on (b-population with a specific diagnosis or problem)?” So all you need to do is fill in the (a) treatment and the (b) population and tah-dah you have your research question.
Therefore, your main task is to decide (a) what type of treatment (for example, cognitive-behavioral therapy, DBT, biofeedback, etc.) you would like to examine. Then, (b) what type of client population including diagnosis or problem most interests you.
Do not spend a lot of time deliberating about your topic. Sometimes students get stuck in trying to think of the perfect topic. Simply choose something that you can live with studying for the next 12 weeks and that you think will be useful in your counselor “toolbox.” This project is not your life’s opus!
When you have some ideas, go back into the research databases. Search for articles using what you selected for (a) and (b). Remember to search for articles according to various methodologies. Notice the patterns in the articles you find. If you find very few articles, you will need to expand your topic. (Expand your topic by broadening your population, diagnosis, or problem. For example, if your population was adolescent females you would expand it to adolescents.) If you find many articles, you will need to narrow your topic.
Review the articles by title and abstract, and save the most interesting articles to your computer. I understand the folder in EbscoHost is not a reliable storage space so please use your own preferred electronic storage for your articles. Try to save at least 20 articles. You will begin to review them for next week’s ON TRACK. Great job!
Task: Decide on a “working topic” for your final project.
In writing a literature review, especially one focused on a treatment method, you must narrow your topic. In Week 1 ON TRACK, you learned how to find research articles according to the various methodologies. I asked you to try to find 20 studies and to save them in a file folder on your computer.
I also discussed that if you found a lot of sources, you would need to narrow your topic further. If you found too few sources, you would need to expand your topic. Narrowing and/or expanding your topic related more to the (b) section of your paper-the population including diagnosis or client problem. In other words, the (a) section-or treatment modality-does not change.
For Week 2 ON TRACK, your task is to read through the abstracts of those 20 (give or take a few) sources and decide on a “working” topic. You do not need to read every article word for word. Simply read through the abstracts.
Notice how the abstracts are written: The authors typically (and very briefly) (a) identify the purpose of the study, (b) state the method of the study, (c) give the most key or significant results, and (d) discuss implications for practice. This information will help you determine how useful this article will be in responding to the research question you will be asking.
In reading through the abstracts, ask yourself the following questions:
1. What themes are emerging from these articles? For example, are the articles mostly quantitative or qualitative? If they are quantitative, do they seem to be a mixture of experimental or descriptive research-why or why not? Do any of the same authors come up over and over?
2. What seems to interest you the most?
One very practical tip to narrowing your topic is to keep a research journal. Make some notes about those two questions that I posed above. Spend 20 minutes on the Week 2 ON TRACK at least three times this week. In between your time spent, let your mind percolate over what you have learned. Develop theories and hunches. Follow up on those theories and hunches the next time you sit down to research.
Please note that I used the term “working” topic. This idea means that you are pretty sure about your topic, but you are still open to possibilities. I am using this term because I know that asking some of you to determine an absolute final topic might be anxiety-provoking at this time. Next week, you will decide on your final topic as a result of finding the 12-15 sources that you will need for your final project.
Your text (Sheperis et al., 2010) chapter 3 delineates great information for performing database searches. Sheperis et al. (2010) also gives some great pointers for organizing and writing research reports. I highly recommend that you review it this week for the ON TRACK assignment as well as for your final project. Next week, I will introduce you to a great research tool to help your organize your materials.
You do not need to post anything in response at this point. You are still researching and developing your topic at this point. Next week, I will ask you to post your proposed research question.
Task: Decide on your final topic for your final project. You will need to have your 12 articles before deciding on your final topic.
Many students approach research wanting to prove a point or find out a certain thing. However, a true scholar-practitioner is guided by what the research says. In other words, we don’t set out to research in order to determine something we already think or do; we let the research itself determine how we think or what we do in the future.
Thus, I have asked to you to refrain from establishing your final topic until you have a good grasp of the literature. Last week, I asked you to review your 20 articles and look for themes. After letting these themes percolate, you should have some good ideas of what the research says about your topic. You are now ready to determine your final topic.
This is a short process. First, write out what you would like to study for (a): what treatment technique or theory are you most interested in learning more about. Ideally, choose a theory or technique that you think you might use with future clients.
Second, with the themes of the literature you have found in mind, write out what (b) type of client population including diagnosis or problem you will focus on in the assignment. Please do not do this step unless you have a good grasp of what the literature says! If you do not have a good grasp of the literature, then spend some time on Week 2 ON TRACK to find more sources.
Your final question, which ultimately is the thesis of your paper, will read like this:
What is the efficacy of (a) on (b)?
Let’s use biofeedback and Veterans diagnosed with PTSD as an example. Therefore, my question is, “What is the efficacy of biofeedback on the treatment of U.S. military veterans who have PTSD?”
Since you have spent some time reviewing the literature and have a good grasp of the methodological trends that are available to review, you now should be able to select the best 12 sources for your paper. Remember, you need five quantitative, five qualitative, one program evaluation, and one mixed methods study.
A note: IF you are very set on a particular treatment and/or population, and can give me an adequate justification for why you want to do your paper on this, as well as provide evidence that there are not adequate numbers of the methodologies that you need for your paper, I will allow you to modify the required numbers of sources on your topic. For example, in the research study I proposed above, it might be very difficult to find qualitative and/or mixed methods studies on biofeedback since it is a very specific modality that lends itself better to quantitative study. However, I will need to see evidence of your comprehensive literature review before any modification to the assignment can be made.
Look back at what you have accomplished these past 3 weeks! You now have a solid topic. You have all of your sources (or most of them). In the next few weeks, we will learn how to review the various studies.
Post your research question in the following format: What is the efficacy of (a) on (b)? Post your research question in this format by Friday, June 20 in the thread below entitled Proposed Research Questions – due by Friday, June 20.
Time Required: 60 minutes
Goal: Identifying themes.
Often learners have learned how to “chunk” data and have not learned how to synthesize research material. The goal of the assignment in this course is to understand how a group of research articles can inform a practitioner.
STEP 1: Open the template for the Final Project. Go to the Reference page. Go to the Walden library. Find your article in the dataset. To the right, there is a link that says “Cite.” Click on that link. A box will open with the citation correctly formatted. Choose the one for APA. Copy and paste it into your reference page. The reference is now perfectly formatted (except you will need to double space it and create a hanging indent).
STEP 2: Complete the COUN6326 Research Log (attached) for your first article. Fill in every box of the row for the first article. See the example log attached that reviews one of the articles from Week 1 of the course.
STEP 3: Identify themes from the results section. Report the results that are only pertinent to your project. For example, if you are studying depression, report only the results/analyses pertinent to the depression variable(s).
STEP 4: In the Notes column, write 1-3 sentences on how this article pertains to your client case or academic project. Use your own voice in these sentences (but remain in the 3rd person tense). In other words, what do you make of this article? How might this particular article inform a practitioner?
Your goal this week is to complete the Research Log for two articles that you have found. Don’t forget to continue adding your references to the Reference page of the Final Project template.
Hint: The application for this week entails you comparing two quantitative research designs. Why not kill two birds with one stone? If you review two quantitative articles that you have already selected for your final project, you will be making good progress on this week’s application as well as on your final project!
Time Required: 60 minutes
Goal: Review two more articles this week and continuing filling in the COUN6326 Research Log (see Week 4 for the Research Log attachment). Even shoot for three! Hint: Choose at least one article with a survey design. You can use the survey article, in part, for your discussion forum posting this week.
You are probably catching on here…in the next few weeks you will review the 12 articles you have found for your final project and complete the COUN6326 Research Log. Once you have completed your review of all the articles and have a completed research log, I will teach you how to put your paper together.
I liken this process to painting a room. In painting, the prep work takes the longest. You have to clean, prep the walls, tape, and lay down the drop cloth. The actual painting goes very quickly.
It is the same process to write a comprehensive research paper. The prep (library research, abstract evaluation, building your paper library, and reviewing the articles) takes the longest. Once you have all of those tasks completed, the actual “painting” (writing) goes very quickly and very smoothly.
Don’t forget to continue adding your references to the Reference page of the Final Project template. Remember references are alphabetized by first author.
She did not post a week 6 so we have nothing available.
This week, we will work on organizing your final project. By now, you should have most of your reviews completed. (I know that you will probably do a few in the upcoming weeks as we work on qualitative research.)
The easiest way to organize a large research project is to physically organize your text. Take a look at your COUN6326 Research Log.
1. “What themes are emerging here?” For example, do the result themes in some columns seem to match? Write a summary paragraph for each of those common themes. Be sure to use serial citations to denote from which studies the themes were present.
2. Now ask yourself, “Which reviews offer differing results?” Write a summary of those differences.
3. Were there common differences? Were there differences limited to a specific population or methodology? Be sure to use serial citations to denote from which studies the themes were present.
When you are done, you should have several summative paragraphs. What you want to avoid is chunking where you report on one study, then the next, then the next. We want to have an overview of the literature not a report on each study one at a time. What does the literature say overall?
Congratulations! You have almost completed your final paper and it’s only Week 7! What you do have is the basic sections of your paper. Each group of summative paragraphs becomes a section in your final paper. Now, determine an appropriate heading for each theme or difference.
Now, decide on the order of how you will organize the summative paragraph groups in your paper. There are several ways to focus. One, you can order them according to similar results. Two, you can have sections that compare and contrast. Three, you can order the sections to build to a logical conclusion. The order, logic, and reasoning really are up to you as you are the author. However, the order should clearly demonstrate a high level of logic and reasoning.
Now, go into the Final Project template (your references should already be there) and copy and paste your summative paragraphs into their sections. Change the Theme 1 heading to the first heading you have created for your summative paragraphs. Repeat with the remaining sections. Double space everything…and you have the largest chunk of your paper done! In Week 8, we will concentrate on language and transitions, as well as adding introduction and conclusion sections.
This method is a very basic way to learn how to organize a paper by topic. Your final paper should result in 12-15 pages of text. PLEASE do not write more than 15 pages. In fact, I will stop reading your paper after 15 pages. One part of scholarly writing is to communicate your points in a very succinct way. A paper comprised of 12 references should never have more than 12-15 pages of text. You will have a few more pages with your title page, abstract, and references.
A basic outline of your final project should look like this (for the text pages):
What is the efficacy of EMDR on Traumatized Adolescents
A. Introduce the problem/demographic and the treatment method(s) that you are reviewing in your paper. End this section with your research question. [Header Level 1] Hint: Your paper title is always the first heading of your papers.
B. Summative Paragraph Group 1 [Header Level 1]
C. Summative Paragraph Group 2 [Header Level 1]
D. Summative Paragraph Group 3 [you probably will not have more than three summative paragraph groups in a 12-15 page paper] [Header Level 1]
E. Conclusion: Discussion of the efficacy of the treatment method you will select to treat the problem. [Header Level 1] What did you learn about the treatment in relation to the population? Remember you need to look at the literature as a whole.
Post an outline of your headings for your final paper in reply to this thread by Friday for peer and instructor feedback.