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FENT 235: Foundations of Family Enterprises

An absolute banger of a guide to help you find information at the duPont-Ball Library whicxh you may use to ace your research projects.


Welcome to the course guide for FENT 235. This guide describes databases and search tools that you can use to find information at the duPont-Ball Library and on the web, as well as search tips and information about library services.  

Assignment details

There are different ways to approach a review of existing literature in the discipline of family enterprise. The State-of-the-Art approach generally involves a review of existing literature as a means to assess the “state” of research relative to a topic, concept, or body of knowledge.

Identifying what we know about this topic, concept, or body of knowledge allows us to understand how all of the pieces of knowledge fit together, but also to think about avenues of potential research stemming from our knowledge. For this paper, you are required to develop a state of the art for your topic. It should be structured in a way that illustrates the different dimensions inherent within the literature on the topic. In the end, this paper should be able to answer the question: What do we know about your topic of interest and how do we know it?

Another way to approach a review of literature is to look for what extant studies do not tell us. That is the goal of the gap analysis. Reviewing the literature for gaps and analyzing the significance of these gaps is critical for your topic in at least two ways. First, it establishes the need for your study and is therefore a very important function of a literature review. Second, it provides a big picture view of what needs to be done relative to the topic as a whole. For this paper, you will analyze and evaluate the existing literature relative to what is not known. In the end, this paper should be able to answer the two-fold question: What do we not know about your topic of interest and why should we know it?

Regardless of which approach you take, your term paper should also include a summary of key sources/studies. Every research problem or question is the result of years (and sometimes decades) of research on the topic. For this paper, you are required to locate and discuss the key sources that are most critical to defining your topic of interest. These seminal sources may be quite old, or they may be relatively new, depending on the topic. A cursory glance at the literature relative to your topic should tell you immediately which sources are seminal, as often these are the studies that everyone cites.

A minimum of 15 references should be cited, and at least 8 of those should be empirical research articles.

Use APA citation style manual (7th edition) for writing style, abstract, headings and subheadings, and in-text and reference list citations.

Empirical Research explained

Empirical Research is based on observed and measured phenomena. It is research that derives knowledge from actual experience rather than from theory or belief.

To locate empirical research in the library's databases, look for the article to mention a study, an observation, an analysis or a number of participants or subjectsWas data collected, a survey or questionnaire administered, an assessment or measurement used, an interview conducted? All of these terms indicate possible methodologies used in empirical research.

 Empirical articles often contain these sections:

  • Abstract ... A paragraph length description of what the study includes.
  • Introduction...Includes a statement of the hypotheses for the research and a review of other research on the topic.
  • Methodology ...A description of how the research was conducted, such as:
             Who are participants
             Design of the study
             What the participants did
             What measures were used
  • Results...Describes the outcomes of the measures of the study.
  • Discussion...Contains the interpretations and implications of the study.
  • Conclusion...Sums up the argument and the most salient points. 
  • References...Contains citation information on the material cited in the report. (also called bibliography or works cited)

The sections may be combined, and may have different headings or no headings at all; however, the information that would fall within these sections should be present in an empirical article. Other synonyms for these types of articles will be "scholarly, peer-reviewed, or refereed" articles

Database Best Bets for Research

Definition of a literature review

A literature review is a comprehensive summary of previous research on a topic. The literature review surveys scholarly articles, books, and other sources relevant to a particular area of research. The review should enumerate, describe, summarize, objectively evaluate and clarify this previous research.  It should give a theoretical base for the research and help you (the author) determine the nature of your research.  The literature review acknowledges the work of previous researchers, and in so doing, assures the reader that your work has been well conceived.  It is assumed that by mentioning a previous work in the field of study, that the author has read, evaluated, and assimilated that work into the work at hand.

A literature review creates a "landscape" for the reader, giving her or him a full understanding of the developments in the field.  This landscape informs the reader that the author has indeed assimilated all (or the vast majority of) previous, significant works in the field into her or his research. 

Review articles. Sometimes categorized as a literature review in a database, a review article is a survey of articles on a topic with findings summarized. This provides the reader with the current state of research in a field or research area.

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