literature review 421

Designing a Literature Review Matrix

Collecting literature you want to review and analyze for potential use can quickly become messy, especially when doing your major literature review assignments. Your goal this week is to find a process where you are able to organize your thoughts and keep track of the strengths and weaknesses of different studies while also tracking the arguments and trends you are seeing in the research. Building a literature review matrix is a good start.

As you build the chart, you will be able to begin to identify ideas that appear repeatedly in the research. This will support you in making sense of the many different research approaches as you bring ideas together for synthesis in the literature review. (Please note that a dissertation does not count as peer-reviewed primary research because it is not peer-reviewed, but may be used as a supplemental source.)

The following videos can guide you in developing your literature review matrix:

  • Literature Review Matrix (Week 2) (Concordia University Portland – Online, 2016a)
  • Literature Review Preparation Creating a Summary Table (NurseKillam, 2013)
    • Note: The heading levels in this video are suggestions only, not what you will use in this course.
    • It is important to note that everything you read might not end up in your literature review. That being said, you should still log every article you read in your matrix. Your final Literature Review Matrix will most likely have more than five to eight peer-reviewed primary research articles that are required for the actual literature review. It is important to use resources published within the past 10 years. Resources older than 10 years may be used if they are seminal studies.

This is something that will tie directly to your preferred working styles and how you best manage flows of information. It is not an assignment with one clear option for how to complete the work. You are welcome to propose a format that is best for you that meets the following criteria:

  • Easily scanned and reviewed for key ideas and concepts
  • Includes details about each article (reference citation, study highlights, your key “findings,” any questions you have about each article)
  • Includes themes/big ideas from each study that can help you do the synthesizing for your final literature review—it is helpful to make an explicit column for this purpose to support your synthesis process as you sit down to write your literature review
  • Can be added to throughout this course and subsequent research courses

Create a table to manage this set of details in Word, Excel, or something similar that can be easily shared.

Submit your template for the format you are proposing with at least one article listed as an example. (You may use the article you have chosen to critique for the Week 1 ethical review assignment.) Please note, you will turn in this matrix again at the end of the course to show how you have utilized it for your literature review.

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