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Remember, “an effective literature review need not denote the entire historical record, but rather establish the raison d’etre for the current study and in doing so cite that literature distinctly pertinent for theoretical, methodological, or empirical reasons.” (Milardo, 2015, p. As you organize the summarized documents into a logical structure, you are also appraising and synthesizing complex information from multiple sources.Your literature review is the result of your research that synthesizes new and old information and creates new knowledge.
Remember, although “the means of summarizing can vary, the key at this point is to make sure you understand what you’ve found and how it relates to your topic and research question” (Bennard et al., 2014).
As you read through the material you gather, look for common themes as they may provide the structure for your literature review.
Determine what general conclusions you can report about the topic or subtopic as the entire group of studies relate to it.
For example, you may have several studies that agree on outcome, such as ‘hands on learning is best for science in elementary school’ or that ‘continuing education is the best method for updating nursing certification.’ In that case, you may want to organize by methodology used in the studies rather than by outcome.
Combining separate elements into a whole is the dictionary definition of synthesis.
It is a way to make connections among and between numerous and varied source materials.And, remember, research is an iterative process: it is not unusual to go back and search information sources for more material.At one extreme, if you are claiming, ‘There are no prior publications on this topic,’ it is more likely that you have not found them yet and may need to broaden your search.At another extreme, writing a complete literature review can be difficult with a well-trod topic.Do not cite it all; instead cite what is most relevant.Organize your outline in a logical order and prepare to write the first draft of your literature review.That order might be from broad to more specific, or it may be sequential or chronological, going from foundational literature to more current.Papers that do not meet this criteria likely should not be included in your literature review.Begin the synthesis process by creating a grid, table, or an outline where you will summarize, using common themes you have identified and the sources you have found.However, given the amount of information you will be recording, an electronic file created in a word processing or spreadsheet is more manageable.Examples of fields you may want to capture in your notes include: For a summary table template, see alternate way to organize your articles for synthesis it to create an outline.