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Skip to 0 minutes and 15 seconds Do we have kind of the particular question or questions in our mind before going for literature review? Or do we develop questions in the process? What do you think? In my personal experience, when I do research I will have to check the criteria of this research topic. If I have a very clear image of what this question is about– so when I have this image in my mind, the question will not change. And the literature review will have a very fluent logic flow, and that will go from there. And the literature review will just develop naturally.

Skip to 1 minute and 6 seconds But sometimes when I have no clue about this brand new topic, my questions will just– I will have many questions about this research topic. And I will have to do a lot of research on these many questions. And then the research on the literature review will be mass. And I will have to go on individual question and do a critical review of my research of what I have done. And then this literature review will be generally organised into decent literature review. So that’s what I think. Actually, I was involved in some project. Some of these projects did not have a clear question at the beginning. And they want just to do some research in this area.

Skip to 2 minutes and 17 seconds And this is a big area. So we lost, and we spent months of doing research without any outcomes at the end or valuable outcomes. So I think I come with an opinion, as much as you narrow down your main question, as much as you will get the right information and you will start your project. But you have to have clear, I would say– first the big question of your research. What are you going to research? If it’s impact, influence, or causes, what are you going to do? What is the outcomes? So this is important to have it in your head, especially for PhD. Everyone should have at least one general question for research.

Skip to 3 minutes and 12 seconds And then when you go through the literature or through the other articles, you can develop more specific questions, depending on that gap you find in this research. So you should have at least one general question you can follow. Otherwise, you can lose time and you lose your time. You’re wasting your time. Ability to get this information its easier. So you have to– I mean, don’t worry about that, will you find the answer. You will find the answer, but what is the answer that you are looking for. This is [INAUDIBLE] question. So it seems like this question– the main question may be like your destination, where you’re supposed to go.

Skip to 3 minutes and 54 seconds And of course, you can develop it maybe by your reading and getting more information. And you can develop it. But you should not deviate yourself, like you’re not achieving your destination. Otherwise, let’s say, for that you need more time, since if you are working for a time frame, then you need to follow your research questions for whatever the particular, specific ones. But maybe you can develop, or you can have, say, more improved versions while you’re reading. But once you start your methodology, once you’ve done your data collection, then you can’t change your questions. So then after that, maybe you can change, you can revise, you can develop your questions. But all should be very specific at the beginning.

Skip to 4 minutes and 37 seconds Otherwise, if it is not specific, then you can’t find your [INAUDIBLE].. Literature review. You can’t work on [INAUDIBLE]. Should be specific. All agree? Yes? Yes. I agree.

The power of questioning

What do our students say?

Questions matter, because they are at the heart of what it means to be critical in an academic context. Critical readers don’t accept anything without asking lots of questions, and to be an effective writer, you need to anticipate the sorts of questions your readers might ask as they encounter the information you present to them.

In the video some of our students are talking about when and why they have found it helpful to draft a list of questions. They consider whether their own writing tends to be predominantly descriptive or critical. Think about how you might use the literature you have gathered to answer or discuss specific questions.

Conversation starter

  • Do you think you read and write in a critical way?
  • Do you think questions play an important role in designing and developing an argument?

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This video is from the free online course:

Research Writing: How to Do a Literature Review

University of Wollongong