Skip to Main Content

POLS 4260: Law and Society: Organizing Your Sources

Consider a Literature Matrix

A literature matrix can help you stay organized in reviewing your results and to synthesize your sources. You could set it up in a text document (Word, etc.) or spreadsheet (Excel, etc.).

Sample Literature Review Matrix

Author Year Journal/Source DV Key IV Method Findings Summary Thoughts

Adapted from Powner, L.C. (2015). Empirical research and writing. Routledge.

Citation Managers

Reference managers can help you keep track of articles, books, and other sources you might use in your writing, organize, read, and annotate those materials, and automatically generate in-text citations and bibliographies.

Literature Review Tips

The literature review is an argument to justify the purpose for and impact of your research on the discipline at large. It establishes your credibility as a researcher in the field and allows the reader to interpret and appreciate the significance of your technical results. The literature review serves as an argument to establish a gap in prior research and establishes the author’s credibility.

Literature review tips:

  • Model the literature reviews you read in the sources you have found.
  • Literature reviews typically cover a lot of sources, but you don't have to be exhaustive. Think of the sources you have read as "the literature". What is the story it tells? What sources changed the conversation? What's missing? What will your project contribute? 
  • Frame the literature as a discourse between scholars.  It's not an annotated bibliography. Synthesize.
  • Summarize the sources rather than quote.
  • Introduce sources by author name and date. Do not include article titles, author biographical information,or journal information. 

Useful verbs to introduce sources: shows, notes, identifies, asserts, finds, counters, refutes, agrees, demonstrates, observes, reports.

How to Read a Scholarly Article