The importance of concept development within a research project It is difficult to imagine attempting a literature review of any sort without exploring the key concepts embedded in the research topic, research questions, claims or hypotheses. The reason for this is clear: if you as the writer assume that the reader will understand complex concepts in a certain way, your assumption might be correct or it might be wrong. It is necessary to spell out precisely what it is that you mean by such terms in the particular context in which you are writing. However, this cannot normally be achieved by means of a simple dictionary-type definition. You can attempt to do this, but the chances of failure are high. What needs to be done instead is to carefully unpack and explore the concept in question. The process begins with reading to see if there is agreement concerning the meaning of a particular concept within your field. An examination of the literature in your field may indicate that multiple interpretations are possible. Outside a single disciplinary area, there may be an even greater variety for you to consider. Your ultimate aim will be to include a section or sections within the literature review or elsewhere in the thesis in which definitions of your key concepts are carefully explored. This is not just a glossary or list of terms where an explanatory sentence or two is added to each item. For certain terms, an entry in a separate glossary may suffice, but for complex key concepts with multiple possible interpretations, something more will be required.
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- Exploring Key Concepts
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