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Assessment types


There is not a single ‘correct’ way to organise the body of a literature review.  Some common ways are to organise by the following (or possibly a combination of these):

  • Ideas and theories
  • Historical development or chronological order, starting with historical findings, then more recent findings and including current research
  • Agreements and disagreements: identify debates, and group papers together that have found different or contradictory results related to the same topic. Remember to analyse and synthesise the different sources (don’t just describe them).

Adapted from Monash University. (2022). Writing a literature review: Structure.

using a literature review matrix

Creating a literature review matrix can assist you in recording, organising and collating the material from the sources that you read.

From Literature Reviews: Understand and Analyse: Reading – More Great Resources, by James Cook University Library, 17 August, 2023. CC BY-SA 4.00 DEED

The matrix is a planning tool and not to be submitted. It may help you see relationships between sources – what do they say that is similar or different? Do they agree or disagree? 

Keep an eye out now for emerging themes or patterns. This is most important, as these will form the basis of your literature review.

Here you can download a Word template: Literature Review Matrix – The Basics from James Cook University