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Writing: Organizing Research

Organizing Research

As you collect and evaluate articles that may be helpful to your literature review,  you will need to come up with some systems for organizing and using the information.  There are three  processes to consider:

1)  How will you organize the information so you know, at a glance, what you have and what themes it explores?  (Use a matrix!)

2)  How will you keep track of notes you take on individual articles? (Organize your notes with an outline!)

3)  How will you retrieve citation information for easy insertion within your literature review? (Use a citation manager!)

Organize the Information You Find with a Matrix

Reading information from just one author will not give you the answer to a research question.  You must consult several authors who address the same issue, weigh and compare what they have to say, and arrive at an informed answer.

This becomes a complicated task to keep track of all of these different authors and what they have to say.  One common approach is to use an organizer that lets you see how authors' ideas relate to other authors' ideas.  Called a literature matrix, it provides a way to organize your information and to more easily spot similarities and differences between articles on a given topic.  In addition, it can act as an index to the articles to help you see what you have at a glance.

A very basic literature matrix will contain the following information:

Authors Title of Article Journal Year published Purpose / research question / key findings
Ennis, M. A randomized controlled trial of a health promotion education program for people with multiple sclerosis Clinical Rehabilitation 2017 Significant higher levels of health promotion activity undertaken with group-based weekly sessions of 3 hours


Literature Matrix Templates and Resources


Search Research Guides