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Section 1 Foundations of Doctoral Study / Chapter 2 Time and Tools

Learning to read empirical research critically is an important skill needed to succeed in the doctoral program.

5. Library Basics


Fully understanding the body of research literature within a learner's program of study becomes the basis for his or her research and dissertation. To acquire the necessary theoretical foundation to initiate research, learners will read, discuss, analyze, and compare content from a variety of authors published over an extended period of time. To assist in this effort, the GCU Library offers unrestricted access to electronic books and more than 45,000 full-text journal articles and reference guides.


The GCU Library website is organized to help locate books and journal articles efficiently. It also contains links to specialized software to organize a learner's list of references. While written tutorials are available, learners also may contact GCU librarians via phone, e-mail, or live chat for assistance locating specific documents or reference materials. Library training is also provided online.


Learning to read empirical research critically is an important skill needed to succeed in the doctoral program. Dissecting research to understand its theoretical foundation, identify the research question, assess the methodology, and critically view the results is the very first step to identify a gap in the literature which may become a factor in defining a dissertation topic. To expedite the acquisition of this competency, GCU offers doctoral learners free access to the research summarization program, LitAssist. Lit Assit is a teaching tool that prompts new researchers to extract specific details related to the literature. The prompting technique is similar to the cognitive process that experienced researchers have learned to do, which novice researchers and doctoral learners have not yet mastered. Over time and with continued repetition and usage,  learners acquire critically reading skill while also creating a personal literature database that may become the basis of their dissertation literature review. LitAssit is unique among other systems as it is designed to rapidly assist in the development of research competency for novice researchers.