I'm in my first semester at a Master's level program in mental health counseling, and I have aspirations of perhaps eventually getting my PhD. I'm presently working on a project for a class about PTSD and after about a day of digging, I found a plethora of theoretical models; some of which are older, some of which are newer and have been built off of previous ones. Traumatology is a much larger and more developed field than I had initially thought, and there are numerous complicating issues, one example being the interaction and overlap with dissociative features/disorders and developmental pathways and models.
I'm starting to get overwhelmed by all the connections I'm seeing and all the articles and books I want/have to read in order to do a half way decent job, and it doesn't help that I'm on a time crunch.
I have had this experience in my undergrad a bit, but managed to scrape by with a research paper that didn't end up amounting to much. I was not satisfied with that outcome, and don't want to repeat that in any of my Master's level courses, but I find myself uncertain of what effective research even looks like or what to expect from myself.
I have 3 questions, the first two are iterations of the same question.
- How could I orient myself in the literature of any given field without "getting lost" when pursuing a research project, an overview, or even just a rudimentary understanding as the basis for a question in a different field that has some interactions or influences with the one I am investigating?
For instance, perhaps I decide in my PhD to develop a project on topic x and want to include perspectives from fields y and z, which I have a good foundation for but am not intimately familiar with the literature or theoretical models of the fields themselves.
- How do I know when I'm trying too hard to understand/give an account for a phenomenon that is not immediately and directly relevant to the topic of my paper?
For instance, if I'm really interested in doing a paper about the relationship between some particular feature of the interactions between pathology A and B, but I get caught in the weeds in trying to understand/explain to the reader competing behavioral models for understanding A and contrasting the cognitive and behavioral models for B.
- How do you deal with feeling overwhelmed when doing research?