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Skip to 0 minutes and 15 seconds I think that it’s one of our main problem, actually, as international students. So basically, I would say that I have struggled with English. And especially how to transfer it into like more professional academic writing. What I found for myself is you can use other people’s way of expressing. And it’s not plagiarism. You can use places like phrase bank, which allows you to express things very clearly, or scientific outcome, or literature review, in a way that people can understand. As much as you can be formal writing, English writing, as much as you will be accepted in the field. So I think it’s an ongoing process to there. Are Today, you are better than yesterday. And tomorrow will be better than today.

Skip to 1 minute and 15 seconds So I think as an international student, has to be– don’t panic. You have to tell yourself that. Even though the native speaker, I think they are suffering from writing. So from writing in English. So this is probably the tip you come up with. Just focus. Yes. In my case, at the beginning, it’s a broad area, so I just thought– at the beginning, what I thought was completely different thing what I think now is. So I think my literature review has changed a lot when compared to the beginning of my search. In the area that probably that we are searching in, it’s continuous changing.

Skip to 2 minutes and 10 seconds And I think the main advantage of doing the literature at the beginning is to prove that you understand the topic. So once you write what did you try to write, what do you understand about the topic, I think your understanding will be improved. Not just changed. I don’t want to say changed, because probably you have a part of understanding the topic. But now you will be understanding, let’s say, 90% or so. So I think that writing will help you to understand the main topics or the subtopics on your research. And when we read more papers, and we will find our specific question about our research topic.

Skip to 3 minutes and 3 seconds So we will revise our literature review and we will update it so we can go and focus on our research topic, on our questions. Basic initial primary idea was just cut and paste from people. So I can just get the ideas and then maybe I can use it. But then when I was [INAUDIBLE] progress with this course and progress with my PhD, when I’m reading others’ research, I’m not just cutting and pasting, I’m not just reproducing what other people said. So literature review is more sophisticated work, where you just use others’ work to give your opinion. So my entire knowledge or perception towards literature review has changed so far.

Skip to 3 minutes and 57 seconds With this journey, where I believed literature review is just kind of report writing, but now it’s changed, because literature review is not just reporting what other people say. It’s more than that. where You actually build an argument by using others’ works It’s change– when you work on the literature, it changes your perception. Now I understand that I don’t need all of– each of these words, so I can remove some of the unnecessary things and just focus on what I need on my research. But earlier, I picked up from my own review each and every point.

Skip to 4 minutes and 46 seconds People may have misperception that literature review is the most easiest task in your writing, because you have everything there, so you can just get things and you can do it. But it’s the most difficult and most important task. Because you can write the introduction, you can write a methodology, you can write a fine piece of your own thing. But literature is you’re playing with others’ opinions, so you need to be more specific. You can’t just do whatever you want. And there are more databases, so it’ll be more key. So it’s– when you’re in the literature review process, then you realise, OK, what to write and how to write and all this.

Skip to 5 minutes and 26 seconds Your entire research skills depend on how good you are reading your literature. I found that my preconception is quite different with the trend, with the real words of the literature review. So maybe we can start with our preconception. We can decide our keywords, our definitions that we tend to use. But when it comes to a literature review, within– we can say it is a journey, long journey, for our PhD or research. So maybe we can understand that our preconceptions can be different with the real conditions and also maybe similar. So basically, as our friend said, the first perception may be different.

Skip to 6 minutes and 10 seconds But when we come and we can understand more about the prior research, we can get the conceptions in our mind. At least quite similar with the real trend of prior research. That’s why sometimes when I say preconception– and we say, OK, where we will research about article or research area, we can answer them, this area is like this. But when we come to the literature review, we find it different. That’s my experience. Absolutely true. We have our preconception of how the literature review would look like and what of the areas where researchers are looking into.

Skip to 6 minutes and 52 seconds But then when we do the actual research based on other people, what their topics are, and we relate it to our own research question, then we find that that perception is of no consequence. And it has changed. So we end up becoming more closer to the real world research, rather than our preconceived notion of research.

Academic writing and research

A symbiotic relationship

When writing a literature review for a higher degree research project, many students are surprised to find that the writing of the review does not finish in the first year of candidature. Their understanding of what the literature review is and does changes over time, and it comes to be seen as the framework for the research and the foundation for the whole report or thesis. In the process of doing a literature review, students also realise that it is only by writing about the work of others that we come to really understand what they have done, and what still needs to be done. The main research question itself is more dynamic and in need of development than many students first realise.

Conversation starter

  • How are you thinking about the literature review now?
  • Has your understanding of its purpose and relationship to a research project changed at all?

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This video is from the free online course:

Research Writing: How to Do a Literature Review

University of Wollongong