Talbot, L., & Verrinder, G. (2008). Turn a Stack of Papers into a Literature Review: Useful Tools for Beginners. Focus on Health Professional Education: A Multi-disciplinary Journal, 10(1), 51.
This is a surprisingly useful paper.
It proposes that those new to a discipline area, or literature reviews more generally, should use a matrix for refining article themes and a funnel for actually writing the review document itself. Although the paper is directed at health disciplines and practitioners it is sufficiently general to be of use to all seeking to take their first steps into literature and research synthesis.
The visualisation of the two complementary literature review processes (compilation and write-up) as a matrix and funnel allow people tasked with literature reviews to clearly see how their data collection is progressing – and where the conceptual gaps are opening up.
Literature Review Grid
The funnel analogy for writing a literature review.
What is the topic?
Why is it important?
Definitions, epidemiology and statistics
What is known already?
Introduce the key themes
Deal with each key them in turn
Theme 4, etc.
What lessons can
you learn from others?
What remains Unknown?
The answers to these
will inform your
project or proposal
(Talbot & Verrinder (2008))