Writing a Literature Review and Using a Synthesis Matrix

Research Journal #6: Literature Review Synthesis Matrix and Reflection



Complete the matrix below as fully as you can. For help doing so, refer to “Writing a Literature Review and Using a Synthesis Matrix” (NC State University Writing and Speaking Tutorial Service Tutors, 2006).  As you can see in the sample matrix, you do not need to fill in every box below — the goal is to organize specific ideas, quotes, and examples from your sources into themes/subtopics (these will be the sections/headings of your literature review). I’d also recommend making brief notes in the boxes regarding which sources agree/disagree or relate in another way (refer to page 4 of the Project 3 prompt for other relationship ideas).


NOTE: You are required to use 4-5 scholarly, academic sources in your literature review. If you’d like, you can also weave in a couple of your more substantive, authoritative popular sources (to provide context, fill in gaps, etc.). Feel free to add/delete columns and rows below. I have simply created a template to get you started (i.e. you may use 7 sources and have 4 themes/subtopics or some other combination).


After you have completed the matrix, respond to the reflection questions below (200-300 words).


Write your research question here:


  Source #1:


Source #2:


Source #3:


Source #4:


Source #5:


Source #6:


Theme/Subtopic A:


Theme/Subtopic B:


Theme/Subtopic C:


Theme/Subtopic D:


Theme/Subtopic E:




  1. Given the conversation you have visualized/mapped and then charted in your synthesis matrix, what are your thoughts on your viral story? What new insights have you gained? Or what new angles/perspectives are you able to see, understand, or appreciate? Or what new questions have been raised for you about your viral story?  That is, how has your engagement with your viral story evolved?


  1. Given the conversation you have visualized/mapped and then charted in your synthesis matrix, how are you feeling about your sources? Are you able to answer your research question, even if tentatively? Or are there any major gaps? If you feel like you are missing something, what is it? What might you want to dive back into the databases looking for?


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