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Students from UOW talking about what they found challenging in writing a literature review.
For me, the most challenging aspect is not really about writing what in my head, because I already got the dot points, so I just need to develop them into a sentence. I think the most challenging one is building the outline, because sometimes, it’s just, I find it very hard to make it feel logical, and like, not just me, but everybody else who gonna read my literature review, gonna understand and can follow the flow of my literature review. Most challenging part is that in your mind, you can understand what you want to write.
But when you end up writing it, when you read it or give that piece of writing to someone else to evaluate it, it could be entirely different story. So what is in your mind has to come on a research paper. For that, you need to have a rich vocabulary, and just not English vocabulary, but also scientific vocabulary. Of course, it’s only for the technical researchers. So I would say that having access to websites like Phrasebank, that was started by a professor in UK and was introduced by my teacher to me, has been really helpful to make my research outcomes being written in a very, very clear, concise language.
Two things– first, getting started and dealing with that sense of being overwhelmed. But then, once I start making progress, I think a big challenge will be to then pull it all together and actually write it up. As English as second language, I try to use maybe more sophisticated English words to show that I know the language. But when I showed this to my supervisor, she just told me, you need to be so simple. Use simple terms. I would say the depth of the literature. The literature I was looking at goes back 50 or 60 years. And there’s just such a huge number of articles that have been published in that field. But I couldn’t really be across everything.
I couldn’t know all about everything that has been done. So finding the right articles to cite for, that go with the pieces of information that I wish to introduce, and knowing that I’ve actually included everything that should be there was quite difficult. The most challenging part in writing a literature review is how to express yourself in a way that will make the readers understand what you really mean, because most of the times, when I think about these questions, my first language will kind of confuse me in a way that will result in some weird expression like that. And sometimes it’s kind of difficult to find it out yourself, that you are not using correct English words.
But after taking this course, I see that there are different approaches to improve my writing and to find the errors that you have made and try to avoid them. For me, the most challenging thing is to transfer or translate the ideas in my head to the English writing paragraph style. For me, also, I’m not in my– English is my second language. So sometimes it’s difficult to figure out what’s in my mind. So I try to write, but sometimes when my teacher in the class corrected my writings, that I got to know that it’s better to use as she corrected. So I go– yeah. It’s the most difficult part is my correcting my English, using English in my writing.
The most challenging part for my literature, actually, the writing. And also reading, actually, because like, we understand that academic English is quite different. We had like, for example, formal English. So maybe there are many specific terms that I would find from the articles. And then how we write up the finding from that article actually is quite challenging also, because English is not my first language. So when I write up, maybe if I don’t understand what the articles means, I could write differently. So I mean, it’s not necessarily related with actually the real research, but in different way. But so that’s why.
But the other thing that I need to understand that the keywords that I use in my research question, I mean the research– so for example, I say, my research is related with e-commerce and integration with other innovative technology. So the first thing I need to understand, what are the keywords, actually? So when I get the keywords and try to read from the articles, I need to find the concept that already shown by the prior article, other than, for example, not related with my research area. The most challenging in my writing, I think, is the transfer of the language, because when we write something, first thought that comes in my mind is the mother language.
And I need to use, to transfer the idea into English. Sometimes there are some errors or mistakes that we didn’t realise. And when we’re writing some papers for the readers, we need to make them logical. And the structure is also important to make the reviewer or the readers to understand what you want to impress.
Challenges are fundamental to learning
In the video, students are talking about what they found particularly challenging in writing a literature review. Most of those I interviewed for this course have grown up in languages other than English, so the fact they are doing this kind of complex reading and writing in English is often their biggest challenge. But even in your first language, academic literacy is strange in particular ways, so this week focuses on language.

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Research Writing: How to Do a Literature Review

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