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Skip to 0 minutes and 16 secondsGood day. Welcome to Wollongong. And welcome to our little online course on how to write a literature review. You might just be starting to do some research, just thinking about it, but you know you have to write a literature review. And you might be thinking, how? Or you might be thinking, oh, that's easy. I can just do that quickly and then get on with the real research. Well, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. It is a very complicated process, and people get confused and off-track. But confusion's good. That's where new ideas come from. Where this course is really useful, though, we find with students that we teach it on campus to, is a connection with other students.

Skip to 0 minutes and 59 secondsIt really makes a difference to be going through this process not alone and to be watching the process unfold as you see somebody doing a literature review and you hear from people who have done it, you hear from research supervisors who read a lot of literature reviews and see what can go wrong. You can really gain a lot by learning from other people's experience. So that's what this course is really about. So welcome to the course. We're really looking forward to meeting you and finding out what your research is about and helping you connect with other students. Get engaged as much as you can. The more you give, the more you'll get out of the course, for sure.

Skip to 1 minute and 41 secondsLet's get started.

Welcome to the course

What is a literature review and why do it?

This course focuses on principles and practices that are common to any kind of literature reviewing task, large or small, so you can take from it what applies to your own situation. You may have started writing a literature review, or just thinking about it, you may need to write a short and simple one, or develop a mini proposal into a thesis chapter. You might just be wondering whether research is for you, and what this ‘thing’ is that researchers have to write…. whatever your situation, the course aims to help you recognise and appreciate what a literature review can be, and enjoy the process of creating one.

It’s possible to write a simple literature review in a month, but a complex one might take a year or more, so this course aims to raise awareness, and focus on the necessary preparation, rather than the completion of a literature review. We want to help you establish the groundwork, so you can continue to develop your literature review with confidence - and with a community of research peers, if you want to stay in touch with those you meet during the course.

As we explore various literature reviews and how to develop a new one, we’ll be thinking about the lit review as a genre - an important concept in developing understanding of language in context. We’ll be looking at it as a particular way of using language that ‘just works’ in an academic context – not just as a writing task, but also as a way of being academic.


We strongly recommend that you record your learning throughout the four weeks in some form of journal or blog. You will see this practice demonstrated through the course on the Teacher’s blog. On a blog, we can see the development of a new text as it unfolds, step by step as we go through the course. Seeing the development process will help you know what to do with your own literature review, and guide you to record and share your own experience in the same way.

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If you would like to create a new blog specifically for completing this course FutureLearn have some free suggestions including: WordPress, Tumblr, and Blogger.

Community space

We have created a Facebook group to help you grow your research community. If you have a blog you will be keeping for this course feel free to share the link in this Facebook group and when relevant throughout the course. If blogging isn’t for you, you might like to try sharing in a small group… it’s a great way to make sure everyone gets, and gives, helpful feedback each week, so no-one is left out in the cold. This group allows you to create your own groups to share within. Lastly this is a space where we can keep the conversation going even after this course has concluded.

  • When joining the facebook group, please answer the few questions to verify that you are from this course.


There will be lots of conversation starters throughout the course, so it’s a good idea to try out the comments feature. When you read comments from other learners, you can ‘like’ those you find helpful or interesting, and reply to comments too. This is a great way to get a conversation started.

Why not test out the comments feature now, we’d love for you to tell us a little about yourself:

  • your name and the country you live in
  • what you love most about reading research
  • why you want to learn more about literature reviewing

Tip: When you see the title ‘conversation starter’ write your contribution in the comments/discussion by clicking the pink ‘+’.

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This video is from the free online course:

Research Writing: How to Do a Literature Review

University of Wollongong