Skip to 0 minutes and 3 seconds[TYPEWRITER SOUNDS]

Skip to 0 minutes and 21 secondsI would say my literature review is kind of a combination of both reporting and an argument, because when you are doing research, you will have to report what you have done and what you have learned. But when writing a literature review, you have to be critical in what you think of these articles. So there are arguments in my literature review, but I will generally talk about these articles and give my way of thinking on what they have done. So I would say it's like 50-50.

Skip to 1 minute and 20 seconds[TYPEWRITER SOUNDS] When I really think about it, I think my literature review is more a report of the work that had been done, but also, in some part, I use a critical voice to point out the gap. And also, when I write about the methodology, I wrote about a lot of methods that could be used to find the answer for my question. But why I choose this specific method. So I was critical there about the advantage and disadvantage of the other method and why the method that I chose is cost effective and you useful and informative. So I was kind of justifying why.

Skip to 2 minutes and 14 secondsAnd also, when I wrote about the finding of the other study, I report what has been discovered, but also, I point out what happened when being discovered on review.

Skip to 2 minutes and 33 seconds[TYPEWRITER SOUNDS] I realise so far, I'm just reporting things when I made my prose at first. And then, of course, my teacher in literature class likes asking-- keep asking questions. Why you wrote this? What's the purpose of this? And so it should be critical. I would say, so far, just reporting are very descriptive. But I think it should be descriptive but more, it should be critical. [TYPEWRITER SOUNDS] I would say that my literature review is more of a report. I didn't need to make a very strong argument against other people's work. Really, just to create the space in which I was about to introduce my own work. Yeah. I think questions are crucial to getting the literature review underway.

Skip to 3 minutes and 19 secondsAnd for me, I would keep it simple, along the lines of who, what, when, where, and why. Definitely, because I'm questioning other researchers, what they have done, as well as questioning what I'm doing as well. So usually, I have this question in mind, certain arguments. So I keep asking questions, and I'm trying to explore those questions. [TYPEWRITER SOUNDS] My writing is mostly descriptive, but sometime I'll go and pick up an evaluative method of writing where it becomes a bit critical. But it's not to actually criticise some researchers, their own work but it's to learn from them. Their way of thinking could be different. Their background is different. Their research methodology, their supervisors, their topics-- they are different.

Skip to 4 minutes and 10 secondsHowever, when we try to put things critically, it helps us to evaluate all the aspects and find the gaps. So the main objective of doing critical analysis is to find the gaps and not to criticise the researchers. Yes. I need a lot of questions. Each day, I have to go back and forth, back to my question, refine it, see how-- is it on line with what we have in the literature review? And the question has to be clear and not-- it's clear and can be answered from the literature. [TYPEWRITER SOUNDS] I found that the questions keep growing up. Like, I have more and more questions.

Skip to 5 minutes and 1 secondAnd at the same time, sometimes I feel some question that I had in the past is redundant, and I can cross them out and finally got some real question that is-- get the most value out of the literature review. [TYPEWRITER SOUNDS]

Report or argument?

Students in this video are reflecting on the literature review they are writing, as part of a long research project.

Being complex pieces of writing, their reviews serve various functions, but it’s interesting to consider the overall balance as a review develops, and how much description or argument there needs to be at various points within the presentation of others’ research.

They are considering the main rhetorical purpose of their writing, whether it tends to be mainly descriptive or critical, and what‘critical’ means in an academic context. They also consider the role of questions in designing a text and developing an argument. Now that you have heard from these students, think about your own research, and how you imagine using particular readings in your review.

Conversation starter

  • Would you say your own literature review will be more a report or an argument?

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

Research Writing: How to Do a Literature Review

University of Wollongong