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DNP Intensive

A guide to library resources and research for students in the DNP Intensive program.

Writing a Literature Review

Writing a Literature Review

Unless you have a reason to present the literature chronologically (to show development over time, perhaps), the preferred method for organizing your literature is thematically. 

Step 1: Identify your themes.

Step 2: Identify the articles that address those themes

Step 3: Identify the similarities and differences among the articles within the themes

A Literature Synthesis Matrix will be especially helpful in this process.


Tools to Help Organize your Literature Review

Tools to Help Organize your Literature Review

Literature Review Matrix

This type of matrix will help you see the content of all of your articles at a glance. Each row represents an article, and each column and element of the articles. Typical columns can include things like 

  • Research method
  • Sample size
  • Theoretical framework
  • Outcomes

However, the exact columns you chose depend on the elements of each study you want to discuss in your paper. You get to decide!

Here are couple of examples to give you a better idea.

Literature Synthesis Matrix

In essence a synthesis matrix is a way to organize your literature by theme, which is generally the way writers organize their whole literature reviews. The real benefit is that it helps you identify the articles that talk about the same themes so that you can write about them together in your literature review.

North Carolina State has a very nice description and example of the process. 

This YouTube video also explains the process.

Here is a template you can use (this one is in Word instead of PPT).