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Literature Review for Graduate Students in Education

What is Synthesis?

"The combination of components or elements to form a connected whole"

Forming a synthesis between various ideas is the heart of your literature review, and once done, will be the core of your research paper. As a starting point try:

• finding ideas that are common or controversial
• two or three important trends in the research
• the most influential theories.


As you read keep these questions in mind:

• does the writer make any assumptions not supported by evidence?
• what is the researcher's method? how does she gather data?

• what ideas and which researchers are frequently referred to?


Some writers of Literature Review create a matrix for organizing their research articles.

This requires you to come up with a number of categories which  grow out of your reading of the literature. As you read, write down ideas, words or controversies  that occur frequently. Ask yourself why? What question are these different papers trying to answer?

This process will generate a number of categories, You can use these to create a table. The article below offers more information on this method of organizing your process.