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Literature Reviews

A guide to writing literature reviews.

How to Write a Literature Review: 3 Minute Step-by-Step Guide (Scribbr)

Watch this video to get an overview of what goes into a literature review, and to compose your own. 

Synthesis Matrix

Using a synthesis matrix can help you keep track of ideas and themes that emerge in research for your literature review. Below is a synthesis matrix created by the Writing and Speaking Tutorial Services at North Carolina State University.

"Pearl Growing" and Citation Mining

"A powerful strategy good researchers use to find information for their literature reviews is known as 'pearl growing' or citation mining.

Based on the idea that sand forms grain by grain into a pearl, so a literature review develops citation by citation.

Pearl growing/citation mining is a process of looking for information that can work backwards or forwards:

  • Backwards: You can discover new information resources for your review by looking at the bibliography of a book or an article and seeing which resources an author consulted to do their research. Subsequently, you can then check those resources and perhaps incorporate them into your literature review.
  • Forwards: You can discover new information resources by determining who cited the book or article you're currently looking at. Then you can look for those sources that cited your first source and incorporate them into your review."

(From "'Pearl Growing' or Citation Mining," VIU Libraries.)

More Resources for Writing Literature Reviews