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Writing a Literature Review: Step 4: Taking Notes & Synthesizing

This guide is designed to help students writing a literature review for a Master's level project or paper. It can also be adapted to use with a large research project at other levels.

The Research Process

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There are a variety of notetaking methods.  Perhaps you have used the old 3 x 5 or 4 x 6 note card system.  It still works.  But you may want to try something newer, including creating a template in Word, OneNote, or using the notes fields in RefWorks to record information. Here are some links for other methods you may want to explore.

Synthesizing your research

Here are a few tips for synthesizing your information before you start writing the review.

  • Organize the information by topic, creating subtopics as needed to connect ideas.
  • Think about what points from each topic you will want to include in your literature review. What areas will you discuss (or leave out), and what research will you use to support your conclusions?
  • Try to summarize your main points into one or two sentences. What do you want the reader take away for each main idea?
  • Create an outline.  For each main point in your literature review, list supporting arguments and resources. Repeat as necessary for each main idea.

Contact me for assistance

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Conrad Woxland
Charles J. Keffer Library | MOH 206F
Subjects: Education, Psychology