differentiate the types of literature review using a graphic organizer

3 Literature Review

Charitianne Williams

By the end of this chapter, you will be able to do the following:

  • Understand the purpose and function of a literature review.
  • Structure a literature review according to basic genre expectations.
  • Synthesize ideas from multiple sources using a synthesis matrix.
  • Choose between narrative or parenthetical citation and direct quoting, or paraphrase with intent and purpose.

I. Introduction

The purpose of a literature review is just that—it reviews. This means that literature reviews examine a text after it was produced, with all the benefits that hindsight allows a reader. In popular culture, we commonly review movies, restaurants, vacation spots, products, etc. In those reviews, you look back at the single thing you are reviewing and your experience with it. You focus on the strengths and weaknesses of your experience and judge the experience as positive or negative while recommending or not recommending the place or product and explaining why.

An academic literature review does something different, although some of the skills and strategies you use remain the same. The job of a literature review is to examine a collection of research or scholarship (not a single thing or text) on a given topic and show how that scholarship fits together. Literature reviews summarize, describe, evaluate, and synthesize the work of other authors and researchers while looking for common trends/patterns, themes, inconsistencies, and gaps in this previous research. The main strategy writers of a literature review use is synthesis.

SYNTHESIS: the combination of ideas and elements to form a complete system or theory.

A good metaphor for synthesis is cooking! Imagine the ingredients for a loaf of bread laid out on a kitchen cabinet. Each ingredient—eggs, milk, flour, sugar, salt, yeast—have their own purpose and can be combined in different ways to form food other than bread. Knowing all of those individual attributes that make an egg an egg, or the difference between yeast and flour, is what makes you a chef. When you combine all these ingredients according to the recipe, you get something different than all the ingredients on their own: and most of us would rather eat a slice of bread than a spoonful of flour. The product of synthesis is like bread. Synthesis takes a list of ingredients and makes them into something more than the ingredients alone.

The images show ingredients, followed by a recipe, and then all put together for bread. These images are meant to compare the baking process to synthesis in writing.

Usually, the writers of a literature review will start with a question that they want to answer through informed and research-based evidence gathered while reading others’ work on related topics. The “thesis” or controlling idea of a literature review may be that same question ( “This review seeks to answer…” ) or it may be a statement describing the reviewed research. The thesis reflects the purpose of the literature review as a genre and is different from the thesis you will write for the research paper that argues a claim or asserts a new idea.

Example 3.1: Look at this thesis statement taken from the introduction of a literature review in environmental psychology on the relationship between “nature sounds” and restorative environments:

From this example, we can learn many things about literature reviews:

  • They are explicit and focused on their topic. The opening states an observable truth about the current research ( emphasizes nature ), is followed by a general condition ( positive psychological experiences) within that research, and then finally focuses on describing how a particular outcome is achieved (listening to nature sounds is restorative).
  • They seek to pre vent or eliminate misunderstanding. Note the use of specialized key terms, exacting transitional phrases, and meaningful verbs in the thesis such as “ restorative environments,” “in particular,” and “ generate .”
  • They seek to forward understanding. In other words, literature reviews examine and link together evidence described and validated in the research of others so a reader can learn how a field is developing. ( Research seems to agree that nature sounds can relieve stress and fatigue–this review will examine that conclusion so readers can understand/ build on how and why.)

Moving from the beginning to the very end of the literature review, we can also learn many things about literature reviews from the sources used. Think of each text listed in the References section of a literature review as contributing pieces to a gigantic puzzle.

Example 3.2: Look at the first three articles listed in the References for the article excerpted above:

Abbott, L. C., Taff, D., Newman, P., Benfield, J. A., and Mowen, A. J. (2016). The influence of natural sounds on attention restoration. J. Park Recreation Adm. 34, 5–15. doi: 10.18666/JPRA-2016-V34-I3-6893

Aletta, F., and Kang, J. (2019). Promoting healthy and supportive acoustic environments: going beyond the quietness. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 16:4988. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16244988

Aletta, F., Oberman, T., and Kang, J. (2018). Associations between positive health-related effects and soundscapes perceptual constructs: a systematic review. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 15:2392. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15112392

None of these sources are exactly the same. One focuses on sound and attention, the next two on sound and health, and none of them are quite the same as sound and restoration —but they are all pieces of the puzzle that give a full understanding of how sound and restorative environments relate.

As the author of the literature review, it is your job to join the pieces together, giving your reader a complete picture of what researchers know about your topic.

Literature reviews are an indispensable tool for researchers. Instead of having to read dozens of articles on a topic, a researcher could instead read a literature review that synthesizes what is known and puts each piece of scholarship into conversation with the others. This could be not only quicker, but also more valuable.

Have you heard the saying that the whole is more than the sum of its parts? The knowledge constructed by a well-written literature review often outweighs the knowledge constructed by simply reading each article in the References section on its own because the author of a literature review processes and analyzes the information for the reader.

Literature reviews occur in two general forms—as a background section in a scholarly work or as a stand-alone genre in and of itself. In both situations, the basic purpose and structure of the literature review is similar: it is the length and the scope that varies. For example, consider the previous chapter, the Proposal. In most proposals, you will want to convince your audience that you are informed on the background of your topic—a literature review is how you would do that. Since a proposal is commonly a short text, you do not have the space to summarize every piece of research. You must select an important set and synthesize that information into a small section signaling your expertise.

On the other hand, consider a professional journal intended to keep its readers up to date on new technologies and findings in a specific field or career. New ideas and discoveries are emerging every day, and it can be difficult to stay on top of all of these new findings, understand how they fit together, and also keep track of your own career responsibilities! A magazine might hire an author to read all the new research on a specific topic and synthesize it into a single article, a state-of-the-art review, so that practitioners in a field can read a single 25-page article instead of 100 25-page articles.

More Resources 3.1: Literature Reviews

II. Rhetorical Considerations: Voice

Using the scholarship of other writers and researchers is one of the things that differentiates academic writing from other types of writing. Using others’ scholarship in a meaningful way that creates new knowledge without mischaracterizing the original findings takes effort, attention, and usually several rounds of revision and rewriting. One of the issues is voice , which refers to the attitude and tone of a text—think of it as what the text “sounds like” in your head as you read it. Voice is an important element of cohesion , or what some people think of as “flow.” Creating a consistent voice in the mind of your reader helps them fit all the information in a text together in the way the author intends. Check out this advice from APAstyle.org about academic style and voice.

Think back to your annotated bibliography and how you created your summaries. You probably used key terms from the original authors’ texts, but because you had to take whole articles and restate the meaning in a short paragraph, there wasn’t room to just repeat the words of the original author. So you had to write the summaries in your voice . If you used those key terms correctly and in ways similar to original authors, those key terms probably did not interfere with cohesiveness and voice. However, in the literature review, you have many more voices to synthesize than you did to summarize in the annotated bibliography. Maintaining a consistent and cohesive voice will be challenging. An important way to maintain voice is through paraphrasing, discussed later in this chapter.

More Resources 3.2: Transitions

Another important way to maintain cohesion is through the use of metadiscourse (see Chapter 2) and transitional phrases. See this link for the use and meaning of transitional phrases, sometimes called signposts .

III. The Literature Review Across the Disciplines

Example 3.3: Academic and Professional Examples

Structure of Literature Reviews

While the details vary across disciplines, all literature reviews tend to have similar basic structure. The introduction of a literature review informs the reader on the topic by defining key terms, citing key researchers or research periods in the field, and introducing the main focus of the review in a descriptive thesis statement. The introduction also explains the organization of the review. In a literature review, you organize your discussion of the research by topic or theme— not article or author. This is in direct contrast to the annotated bibliography, which is often the first step in the writing process for a literature review.

In the annotated bibliography, you organize your entries in alphabetical order by authors’ last names. Each annotation is directly connected to a single text. A literature review is connected to a collection of texts, and therefore must be organized in a way that reflects this.

Example 3.4: Let’s examine the full paragraph that the thesis statement we analyzed earlier came from:

A systematic review by Aletta et al. (2018) has identified links between positive urban soundscapes (which may also include nature sounds) and health and well-being, including stress recovery. Given the emphasis on nature w ithin restorative environments (see Hartig et al., 2014 ), the present narrative literature review focuses on evidence for positive psychological experiences of nature sounds and soundscapes specifically, and in particular how listening to these can generate perceptions and outcomes of restoration from stress and fatigue. This review has five key objectives, summarized in Figure 1 [in the article] . First, it explores literature regarding the impact of nature sounds on perceptions and experiences of wider natural environments. Second, it examines evidence regarding cognitive and affective appraisals of nature sounds and their contributions to overall perceptions of restorative environments. Third, literature regarding restorative outcomes in response to nature sounds is assessed. Fourth, the relevance of key restoration theories to this top ic is examined and areas where these theories are limited are identified. Fifth, a possible new theoretical area of interest—semantic associations with nature—is discussed and exemplified by recent acoustics research (Ratcliffe, 2021, emphasis added).

Notice how the thesis statement (in bold ) is followed by an explicit description of the five key objectives—which correspond to the titles (usually called headings ) of the five major sections of the body of the literature review. The introduction basically outlines the body of the literature review to make it easier for a researcher to find the specific information they are looking for. What follows each of these headings is an analysis and synthesis of the topic described in the heading—which is what we mean when we say a literature review is organized by topic.

Example 3.5: See how the body sections of a literature review synthesize research and evidence in relation to a focused topic. Read this example taken from a literature review in another discipline, nursing.

The introduction states that the review’s purpose is to understand the issues facing nurses in situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The researchers found several themes in the research that all contributed to nurses’ experiences. This paragraph describes one of those themes which the authors label “Professional collegiality”:

3.2.2. Professional collegiality

Professional camaraderie amongst nursing colleagues working during a pandemic was high (Ives et al., 2009, Kim, 2018, Liu a nd Liehr , 2009). Nurses acknowledged the importance of caring for their co-workers and in sharing the load. Some nurses associated the experience with working on a battlefield, whereby they worked together as a team protecting one another (Chung et al., 20 05, Kang et al., 2018, Liu and Liehr , 2009). Appreciation of their nursing colleagues was demonstrated through sharing their experiences, willingness to work together and encouraging a team spirit (Shih et al., 2007, Chung et al., 2005, Chiang et al., 2007 ). (Ratcliffe, 2021, p.4)

In this single paragraph, there are seven different research articles cited, and some of them are cited twice. There is no way to write a coherent paragraph summarizing seven different research articles at once—instead, the authors of this paragraph reviewed what the researchers said about collegiality, found where their findings pointed in the same direction, and put those connections into their own words. This is the importance of the review’s body section: it is here where you really dig into the content, meaning, and implications of the scholarship you are discussing.

The end of a literature review looks different from the one- or two-paragraph conclusion we are used to in other texts. The end is often made up of multiple sections, each with a slightly different purpose, although all are probably recognizable to you. A “Discussion” section is almost always present, where the author summarizes the most important findings of each section. In most cases, the “Discussion” section does not contain new information, but ties the different body sections together in ways that provide a deeper analysis.

The end of a literature review may also contain an “Implications for Future Research” or “Resolution” after the Discussion—sometimes this final section is even called “Conclusion.” What this last section looks like is often dependent upon the type of review you are writing, and whether the review is standing alone as a complete text or part of a larger project.

In any situation, across all disciplines, it is important to understand how your literature review is meant to inform the reader and what kind of review is appropriate for the context, in order to decide how you should structure the beginning and end of your review.

Types of Literature Reviews

There are different types of literature reviews, although in undergraduate study the Traditional or Narrative Review is most common. Narrative reviews are somewhat exploratory in their content—in a narrative review you are synthesizing the results of specific texts selected for their connection to your topic. Narrative reviews almost always end with a section describing areas for future research if they are a stand-alone text, or a section describing why the author’s research is so needed if part of a larger research article. The chart below outlines the key differences between three major literature review types. Notice that each type has a slightly different purpose. You might think about which type best fits your project as you read.

Table 3.1: Types of Literature Reviews

More Resources 3.3: Literature Review Structures

IV. Research Strategies: Developing a Methodology

Systematic and scoping reviews should always contain a Research Methodology that explains to your reader exactly how you found the research you are reviewing. Often Narrative Reviews will also contain a research methodology, although it will be slightly different since they are not comprehensive reviews, meaning, they do not attempt to find all the research on a topic—by design, they cover only a specific portion. Even if you are not required to write up your methodology, you need clear research strategies to find the appropriate scholarship for your literature review.

Example 3.6: Check out this excerpt from the methods sections from a psychology literature review. Note how the authors clearly describe what types of sources they’ll be using as well as their steps throughout the research process.

Drawing on individual case studies, archival reports, correlational studies, and laboratory and field experiments, this monograph scrutinizes a sequence of events during which confessions may be obtained from criminal suspects and used as evidence. First, we examine the pre-interrogation interview, a process by which police …( Kassin and Gudjonsson , 2004, p.33)

Example 3.7: Here is another example from the field of education. In it the authors describe two separate searches they performed to gather the literature—the first search used key terms they decided upon before reading any scholarship, and the second search used the terms that they found were common to that first set of texts (see more about key terms here and in the Annotated Bibliography chapter).

We conducted two rounds of literature searches, utilizing the following databases: World CAT (general search), EB SCO Academic Search Complete, EBSCO Education Source, and Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts (ProQuest). In the first round, we searched using every possible combination of the following terms: ‘race,’ ‘language teaching,’ ‘ethnicity,’ ‘language p edagogy,’ ‘Whiteness,’ ‘racialized,’ ‘antiracism,’ and ‘ nativeness .’ For the second round of our literature search, we searched using terms that we saw emerging from the literature such as ‘racial identities of language learners,’ ‘racial identities of lan guage teachers,’ ‘language varieties and language teaching,’ ‘race and language teacher education,’ ‘race and educational policy,’ ‘race and language programs,’ and ‘race and language curriculum’ and also repeated our earlier searches in order to keep the literature updated. (Von Esch et al., 2020, p. 392)

No matter the type of research (see a description of qualitative vs. quantitative research ), the specific genres (see descriptions of academic research genres ), or the time frame (see a discussion on the importance of publication date ) you use for your review, it is important to think through the options, make a decision, and incorporate all your research knowledge—use of key terms, use of subject filters, use of specialized databases, etc.—into a coherent and meaningful process that results in the best scholarship for your inquiry and review.

Here’s a video to help you get started on using databases for research:

Library Referral: Connecting the Conversation with Scholarly Sources and Beyond​

(by Annie R. Armstrong)

Research involves drawing from numerous voices from a range of source types. The sources you choose to include in your conversation are context-specific and might vary depending on your topic or the parameters of your assignment. Review your assignment description and talk to your instructor about guidelines. While most research papers emphasize scholarly sources, expertise isn’t always equated with scholarliness and you might want to branch out. For example, a research paper focusing on exploitation of Native American land and communities by the mining industry should make some attempt to include sources generated by the communities under discussion, especially if their point of view is not represented in the peer-reviewed, scholarly sources you’ve found. Think about who the stakeholders are as related to various aspects of your topic and how you can tap into their voices through available resources. You may want to consult a librarian about this.

The chart below summarizes the breadth of source types available through library websites versus the open web:

Table 3.2: Scholarly Sources and Beyond

V. Reading Strategies: Intertextuality and Graphic Organizers

Typically we think of reading as something we do to learn the content of a text—and this is absolutely true! But true understanding means knowing the relationships between and impact of separate but related topics, which might mean understanding how different texts—generally focused on one topic—overlap or differ.

Intertextuality refers to the connections that exist between texts. Intertextuality as a reading strategy means looking for the connections between the text you are reading and others you have already read; anticipating connections with other texts that you have not yet read, but plan to; as well as connections to whole disciplines, fields, and social phenomena. Reading for intertextuality means looking for opportunities to connect texts with each other, and keeping track of those connections in a productive way.

This means note-taking is essential to intertextual reading. Once you have thought carefully about why you are reading a text, what types of information to look for, and what you will do with that information, you can better decide how to keep track of that information. In regards to literature reviews, one type of graphic organizer dominates: the Synthesis Matrix.

The synthesis matrix is a way to keep track of the themes, concepts, and patterns that are emerging from your reading—NOT all the individual content of each article. This is important, yes, and you will need the citations, but literature reviews move one step further into the topic than simply identifying the pieces. You will need to synthesize.

If you have an annotated bibliography of sources already, it is the perfect way to start your synthesis matrix. An annotated bibliography is often the first step in preparing for a literature review, and is quite similar to an ingredient list, if we are using the metaphor from the introduction. (For a detailed description of how to write an annotated bibliography, see Chapter 1 ).

In your annotations, you will have selected the most important information that text supplies in relation to your topic. For an example, let’s take the Conference on College Composition and Communication’s statement “ Students’ Right to Their Own Language ,” which contains two annotated bibliographies. The second uses more recent sources and looks most like the annotated bibliographies you will write as a student, so let’s start there.

Example 3.8: Here are three annotations from that bibliography. As you read, take notice of the different highlighted colors. Phrases italicized and highlighted green identify ideas related to linguistic identity , phrases bolded and highlighted in blue identify concepts related to grammar analysis , and phrases underlined and highlighted orange identify groups and ideas related to educational objectives :

Fought, Carmen. Chicano English in Context. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.

Based primarily on data collected from adolescent and young adult native speakers in Los Angeles , this book is a comprehensive sociolinguistic study of language and language change in Latino/a communities. It provides the basics of Chicano English (CE) structure (phonology, syntax, and semantics) and its connection to the social and cultural identity of its speakers, along with detailed analyses of particular sociolinguistic variables. Emphasis is given to the historical, social, and linguistic contexts of CE. In addition, the differences between native and non-native CE speakers are covered. A final chapter discusses the future of research on CE.

Lippi-Green, Rosina. English with an Accent: Language, Ideology, and Discrimination in the United States . London and New York: Routledge, 1997.

The author examines linguistic facts about the structure and function of language , explores commonly held myths about language, and develops a model of “the language subordination process.” Then, using a case-study approach, she applies the model to specific institutional practices (e.g., in education, news media, business) to show how false assumptions about language lead to language subordination. The author analyzes specific groups and individuals (speakers of African American English, Southern U.S. English, and the foreign-language accent of Latinos and Asian Americans) and discusses why and how some embrace linguistic assimilation while others resist it.

Nero, Shondel J. Englishes in Contact: Anglophone Caribbean Students in an Urban College. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 2001.

This qualitative study of four anglophone Caribbean students at a New York City college offers an in-depth examination of the students’ written and spoken language and the challenges faced by both students and teachers as such students acquire academic literacy. Case studies of the four participants include excerpts from tape-recorded interviews, which reflect their linguistic self-perception, and sociolinguistic and educational experiences in their home countries and in New York City. Samples of their college writing over four semesters are represented and analyzed on morphosyntactic and discourse levels to determine the patterns that emerge when Creole English speakers attempt to write Standard Written English. Related issues such as language and identity , language attitudes, and educational responses to ethnolinguistic diversity are also discussed.

Once you have identified a concept like “language and identity” for your literature review, you can start getting “intertextual”! Review your other annotated sources and your new sources for their discussion of language and identity, as well as parallel concepts—what else do researchers address when they discuss language and identity? What do they discuss instead? Go back to the methods you used to come up with key terms for your literature search—the same strategies now apply to your reading. Also look for “umbrella” concepts, patterns in methodologies—anything that emerges while you read intertextually, focusing on the text in front of you while also remembering all the others you read before. Look for the themes in your annotated bibliography and keep track of the page numbers where these themes appear—plan to go back to those pages several times as you write your literature review.

This is a different type of reading than you did for the annotated bibliography, and might mean you go back and reread your sources several times in this new way—don’t think of this as just repeating labor you have already performed. This is new work, designed to uncover new things in the research. Re-reading articles multiple times is something all serious writers do, and something you should do, too. It isn’t redundant, it is recur sive .

Table 3.3: Synthesis Matrix for Individuals’ Choices in Linguistic Identity

Put your sources into conversations around your themes, as shown in the table above. Notice that the top row names the themes covered in that column, put into original wording similar, but not identical, to the wording in the annotated bibliographies. Not every source will address every topic—not every article is the same. The last row starts to describe what is happening in each column across the whole collection of texts. In this way, your synthesis matrix takes the ingredient list provided by the annotated bibliography and makes it into a recipe for your final product—the literature review.

More Resources 3.4: Synthesis Matrix

VI. Writing Strategies: Citation, Quotation, and Paraphrase

Citation is when you use the work of other authors in your writing and mark that portion of your writing so your reader understands what idea is being “borrowed.” Citation also tells your reader where they could find that original idea in the original text, and how your text fits together with the web of other texts related to your topic: in other words, citations help create intertextuality. A citation placed in your sentences should refer directly to the full bibliographic information in your Works Cited or References page.

As you read in Chapter 1, there are different styles of citation including AMA, APA, CMS, and MLA. You can refer back to that chapter for a more detailed explanation of each. In this section, we’ll cover the basics that are common to citation practices. Most academic styles use the original author’s last name as the central part of the in-text citation, since References pages usually list cited works alphabetically by last name, but some use footnotes or endnotes instead, listing works in the order they were cited. It is important to know which academic style you are using for your literature review so that you can make the right choice.

In-text citation takes one of two forms: parenthetical or narrative. In a narrative citation the author of the original work is mentioned in the sentence.

Example 3.9: Here’s an example taken from the introduction of the same literature review discussed in the Research Strategies: Developing a Methodology section of this chapter.

Several pieces offered a comprehensive review of the historical literature on the formation of Black English as a construct in the context of slavery and Jim Crow, and the historical teaching of Black English within the U .S. context, including Wheeler ( 2016 ) and Alim and Baugh (2007). Wheeler (2016) equated Standard English with ‘White’ English and challenged its hegemony in dialectically diverse classrooms. She named the “racism inherent in [fostering] bidialectalism [th rough teaching]” (p. 380), arguing that we are acknowledging that the only way for African-Americans to be upwardly mobile was to learn how to speak ‘White’ English. Alim (2010) , explained, “By uncritically presenting language varieties as ‘equal’ but diff ering in levels of ‘appropriateness,’ language and Dialect Awareness programs run the risk of silently legitimizing ‘Standard English’” (p. 215)…. Current work addressing AAVE studies has been shifting focus to translingualism and to promoting such pedag ogies as code-meshing (Young, Barrett, Young Rivera and Lovejoy, 2014) and translanguaging (García & Wei, García and Wei, 2014) , embedded in a critical analysis of the racial logics underpinning the denigration of some languages. This work, combined with e xtensive examinations of the connections between race, language, teaching, and identity ( e.g. Flores & Rosa, 2015; Alim et al., 2016 ), has laid a foundation for a raciolinguistics approach to teaching, which we return to later in this article. (Von Esch et al., 2020, p. 399, emphasis added .)

In the first sentence, we see two narrative citations just before the period. These citations state the authors’ names as a part of the sentence, and put the publication date of the articles in parenthesis. It makes sense to use a narrative citation in the topic sentence, since most of the paragraph is a synthesis of Wheeler and Alim’s research. The second sentence starts with Wheeler’s name in the subject position, and the fourth sentence starts with Alim’s name in the subject position—both are narrative citations, a form chosen by the author to emphasize the importance and similarities in the two articles.

In the last two sentences, we see parenthetical citations. The citation information is in parenthesis within the sentences, which focuses the reader on the ideas, not the research itself. Imagine you were reading this article out loud—you would most certainly say the narrative citations “Wheeler” and “Alim”; you might choose not to say “Young, Barrett, Young-Rivera, & Lovejoy, 2014,” though, and no one listening to you would notice the omission. This is the most important difference between narrative and parenthetical citation—narrative draws attention to the researchers, while parenthetical allows a focus on ideas. In academic writing, you often have reason to use both, but it is important to note that using parenthetical citation is less disruptive to your voice—it keeps a reader focused on the ideas you are explaining.

Usually you are citing a type of quotation in your text (although different disciplines have other situations that they cite). Direct quotation and paraphrase are usually what we talk about when we talk about using resources in your writing, although summary is cited as well.

Direct quotation is when you take the original words of one author and place them in your own text. When you quote in your own writing, you mark the copied text—usually with quotation marks “” around the text and a citation afterwards. Quoting is useful when the original author is an important authority on a topic or if you want to define/describe another’s point of view in a way that leaves no room for misinterpretation.

In a literature review, a direct quote will almost always be accompanied by a narrative citation. But direct quoting can cause some issues in your own text, such as a sudden shift in voice and a loss of cohesion; the potential for misunderstanding and misrepresentation, since the quote has been separated from its original context; and wordiness —quotes can take up too much space both in terms of the quote itself, and of the explanation and context you must provide for the introduced idea. For these reasons, literature reviews do not contain much direct quoting.

Paraphrasing is a way to accomplish similar goals to direct quoting without causing the same problems. Paraphrasing is when you use only the original author’s key terms and ideas, but your own words. Paraphrasing still contains a citation afterwards that directs the reader to the full bibliographic information in your Works Cited, but does not require quotation marks since the language is yours. Paraphrase may be longer or shorter than the original author’s text, and uses both narrative and parenthetical citation. Paraphrase also allows you to cite more than one piece of research containing the same idea in a single sentence, such as the last sentence in the example paragraph above. This kind of citation string is important to literature reviews because it clearly identifies patterns and trends in research findings.

Key Takeaways

  • Literature reviews are a synthesis of what other researchers have discovered on your topic. Think of reviews as “the big picture.”
  • Taking so much information from other sources can get confusing–use section headings to keep your review organized and clear.
  • Diverse citation, quotation, and paraphrasing techniques are necessary to help your reader understand where the ideas are coming from, AND to help make the ideas “stick together.”
  • Keeping all the new knowledge you are learning from your sources organized is hard! Take notes using citations and use a graphic organizer to keep yourself on track.

Fernandez, Lord, H., Halcomb, E., Moxham, L., Middleton, R., Alananzeh, I., & Ellwood, L. (2020). Implications for COVID-19: A systematic review of nurses’ experiences of working in acute care hospital settings during a respiratory pandemic. International Journal of Nursing Studies , 111. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2020.103637

Kassin, S. M., & Gudjonsson, G. H. (2004). The psychology of confessions. Psychological Science in the Public Interest , 5 (2), 33–67. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1529-1006.2004.00016.x

National Council of Teachers of English. (2018, June 16). Students’ right to their own language (with bibliography) . Conference on College Composition and Communication. Retrieved July 24, 2022, from https://cccc.ncte.org/cccc/resources/positions/srtolsummary

NEIU Libraries. (2020). “How should I search in a database?”  YouTube . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fgBF0EuH_o

Ratcliffe, E. (2021). Summary Flowchart [Image]. Frontiers in Psychology. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.570563/full#B3

Ratcliffe, E. (2021). Sound and soundscape in restorative natural environments: A narrative literature review. Frontiers in Psychology , 12 . https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.570563

Sasaki. K. (2022). Synthesis and Recipes [Image].

Von Esch, K., Motha, S., & Kubota, R. (2020). Race and language teaching. Language Teaching, 53 (4), 391-421. doi:10.1017/S0261444820000269

Writing for Inquiry and Research Copyright © 2023 by Charitianne Williams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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What is a Graphic Organizer?

A graphic organizer is a visual tool used to express ideas and concepts, and convey meaning. A graphic organizer often depicts the relationships between facts; concepts; terms; thoughts; and/or ideas. It can help writers by creating a visual map or diagram of ideas . There are many similar names for graphic organizers including: knowledge maps, concept maps, story maps, cognitive organizers, advance organizers, or concept diagra ms

  • The Great and Powerful Graphic Organizer Excellent explanation of graphic organizers, with examples from a teaching perspective.
  • Houghton Mifflin Graphic Organizers A long list of many types of organizers, free to download.
  • Write Design Organizers This site describes five main types of graphic organizers in detail. It provides links to many more. It then describes the process one must go through in using a graphic organizer.
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Assessing with Graphic Organisers: How and When to Use Them

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differentiate the types of literature review using a graphic organizer

  • Paola Marchant-Araya 2  

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In this chapter, a review of the most common graphic organizers in classroom evaluation in schools is made, such as: mind maps, semantic maps, concept maps, Gowin’s V, timelines, Venn diagrams, flowcharts, and fishbone diagram. For each of them, its characteristics are described, elements to be taken into account for its use, its advantages and limitations, and an example. Finally, an analysis of how to use graphic organizers to assess learning is presented, its formative or summative use, the way to assign scores and the need to have auxiliary instruments for its evaluation.

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Marchant-Araya, P. (2023). Assessing with Graphic Organisers: How and When to Use Them. In: Förster, C.E. (eds) The Power of Assessment in the Classroom. Springer Texts in Education. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-45838-5_8

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Literature Review Graphic Organizer [classic]

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differentiate the types of literature review using a graphic organizer


Using Graphic Organizers for Assessment: A Powerful Evaluation Tool for 2024

You likely already know that graphic organizers are great tools for improving reading comprehension and writing skills. However, you may not be as familiar with how they can be used as powerful evaluation tools. Using graphic organizer for assessment is one of the best ways to offer a differentiated assessment.

It’s true! Because graphic organizers are a more creative assessment of knowledge than simply answering true or false questions or showing memorization skills they are ideal assessment tools. Graphic organizers allow demonstration of higher level thinking skills. Drawings and diagrams appeal to the visual learner and help to better serve your diverse group of students. Teachers can use the organizers to assess learning in many ways. Learn all about using graphic organizers for assessment below!

elementary student reading a book

Why is it Important to Differentiate Assessment?

Have you heard this phrase, “Teachers are asked to differentiate learning, so why is testing standardized?” It is meant to be funny, but sadly its true. Too often kids are provided with modifications and differentiated instruction while learning yet are then asked to perform the same task as their peers during a test. Here is why it is important to differentiate assessments.

  • Not all students test well. There are lots of children who demonstrate proficiency of skills during the practice phase of learning, but perform poorly in a testing situation.
  • The goal of assessments is not to trick students. Assessment should simply be an opportunity for the students to “show what they know.” For this reason familiarity in the format is important.
  • In today’s world of data collection it is only fair students be provided with multiple opportunities to demonstrate their abilities. Since the scores from assessments now go beyond a report card and instead may influence placement in groups and determine eligibility for services its important to be thorough in examining a child’s true abilities.

This post by The Clutter-Free Classroom shares why using graphic organizers for assessment is important and will provide teachers with easy ways to offer students differentiated assessment tasks.

How to Use Graphic Organizers for Knowledge Assessment

Graphic organizers are a great way to assess knowledge. Below are some suggestion for how to do it!

  • Embed graphic organizers into tests and quizzes as an additional opportunity to showcase knowledge.
  • Students can use them to analyze a video or reading passage. This will show the teacher how well the student understood the material.
  • Have students complete a graphic organizer in preparation for a literature discussion or book talk. Observe how the student orally communicates his/her understanding and insights.

How to Use Graphic Organizers for Written Assessments

Completing an organizer can help students plan their writing when answering open response questions. This will make the written component much more coherent, decrease student anxiety, and improve test-taking time management.  Ultimately the goal is to have the students create and complete their own organizers when required to respond to a question in writing. Here’s how to encourage them to do that.

  • Model how to select and use the appropriate graphic organizer to respond to a text-based question.
  • Provide practice opportunities for the students to work towards mastery.
  • During teacher-planned assessments, always provide the students with an organizer and have them complete it prior to writing their response.
  • Discuss how to select the best organizer for different types of questions.
  • Model and provide explicit instruction on how to create the organizers on their own.
  • Present the students with situations to do so independently.

Graphic Organizer Assessment Resources

I have created a collection of graphic organizers . The themed topics increase student interest and motivation. Best of all, they can be used with ANY book. This allows you to use the same organizer multiple times. Students may complete the same organizer, but with different books at their own reading level for simple modify learning. Each packet includes 20 graphic organizers designed to be use to teach…

  • story mapping
  • summarizing
  • character traits
  • brainstorming/webbing
  • identifying facts
  • main idea and supporting details
  • non-fiction text features
  • gathering information
  • comparing and contrasting
  • cause and effect
  • fact and opinion
  • note taking
  • vocabulary and author word choices
  • visualizing
  • making connection
  • sorting information
  • report writing

reading graphic organizers

In closing, we hope you found this post about using graphic organizers for assessment helpful! If you did, then you may also be interested in these posts:

  • How to Use Graphic Organizers to Improve Reading Comprehension Skills
  • How to Use Graphic Organizers to Improve Writing Skills
  • Formative Assessment Ideas for Elementary Teachers

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Graphic organizers as a reading strategy: Research findings and issues

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    A graphic organizer is a visual tool used to express ideas and concepts, and convey meaning. A graphic organizer often depicts the relationships between facts; concepts; terms; thoughts; and/or ideas. It can help writers by creating a visual map or diagram of ideas . There are many similar names for graphic organizers including: knowledge maps ...

  6. Enhancing Learning Through the Use of Graphic Organizers: A Review of

    The use of graphic organizers helps students access Science. information and maybe create a greater love for the world we live in. Hutchison and Padgett (2007) noted that "great teaching is artful when students. get information into their memory in an organized fashion to facilitate later retrieval" (p. 69).

  7. Assessing with Graphic Organisers: How and When to Use Them

    The purpose of this chapter is to present the graphic organisers most commonly used by teachers in the classroom, and to discuss their uses in both teaching and assessment. It describes the characteristics, advantages, and limitations of different types of organisers and their ways of representing knowledge. It also analyses the core aspects to ...

  8. The Effectiveness of Graphic Organizers in Improving Reading

    The present literature review analyzes the importance of using graphic organizers (GOs) to improve reading comprehension for students with learning disabilities (LD). A systematic review was conducted to investigate the effectiveness of GOs to assist middle school students with LD improve their reading comprehension.

  9. (PDF) A Systematic Review of Graphic Organizers Method in Reading

    Introduction Literature Review Graphic organizers are visual, and spatial displays designed to facilitate the teaching and learning of textual materials through the "use of lines, arrows, and a spatial arrangement that describe text content, structure, and key conceptual relationship" (Darch & Eaves, 1986, p. 310). ... four different types ...

  10. A Quantitative and Qualitative Review

    Ackerson's (1980) review of advance organizer studies and Moore and Readence's (1980) review of graphic organizer studies. Pflaum reported the deltas by Luiten et al. and the eta coefficients reported by Moore and Readence without stressing the differences between those statistics. The three reasons listed above prompted an investiga

  11. A Research-Based Evidence of the Effect of Graphic Organizers on the

    The first instrument was a graphic observation checklist comprising seven graphic organizers (GOs); these were the Big Question Map, Circle Organizer, Discussion Map, Compare-Contrast Matrix, Venn Diagram, Cause and Effect, Story Map and Time Line (Alshatti, 2012). They were introduced to the literature teachers in the two GBS by the researchers.

  12. The Write Way: Graphic Organizers and Response to Literature Writing a

    Checklist for Revising Graphic Organizers: A revision checklist is a visual way for students to review their writing and check for components that may need revision. This checklist is not a way to grade the essay; instead, this checklist is a review of the overall essay. 3.

  13. PDF The Effectiveness of Graphic Organizers: a Quantitative Study on The

    Literature Review Introduction Graphic organizers have been widely researched for their use in classrooms. There is much research out there on their effect on different types of learners, students, and subject areas. This literature review will cover the effect of graphic organizers on students with learning disabilities,

  14. PDF SHORT ARTICLE A Review of Studies on Graphic Organizers and ...

    Graphic organizers are visual elements with which readers indicate clusters of ideas or concepts in the form of words, phrases or sentences (McKnight, 2010; McLaughlin & Overturf, 2013; Tarquin & Walker, 1997). In its basic form of a graphic organizer, readers draw a concept or word in the middle of a piece of paper or a screen and add related ...

  15. PDF Graphic organizers in reading instruction: Research findings and ...

    Abstract. As an instructional tool, graphic organizers (GOs) have been highly recommended and used in contemporary classrooms. Over the past decade, a number of concerns have been raised about claims for the effectiveness of GOs. These concerns involve the inconsistent research results on student improvements, the limitation in generalizability ...

  16. Literature Review Graphic Organizer [classic]

    Literature Review Graphic Organizer [classic] Use Creately's easy online diagram editor to edit this diagram, collaborate with others and export results to multiple image formats. You can easily edit this template using Creately. You can export it in multiple formats like JPEG, PNG and SVG and easily add it to Word documents, Powerpoint (PPT ...

  17. PDF Use of Graphic Organizers in a Language Teachers' Professional ...

    Different types of graphic organizers such as conceptual development charts, Venn diagrams, or T-charts, were used by the instructional coaches in ... 1.3 Discussing Relevant Literature Review on Graphic Organizers Graphic organizers are "visual displays teachers use to organize information in a manner that makes the

  18. A Quantitative and Qualitative Review of Graphic Organizer Research

    A number of different types of graphic organizers have been created to help students select appropriate statistical analyses, including tip sheets which sort analyses by their defining ...

  19. Using Graphic Organizers for Assessment: A Powerful Evaluation Tool for

    Students can use them to analyze a video or reading passage. This will show the teacher how well the student understood the material. Have students complete a graphic organizer in preparation for a literature discussion or book talk. Observe how the student orally communicates his/her understanding and insights. How to Use Graphic Organizers ...

  20. PDF A Systematic Review of Graphic Organizers Method in Reading

    knowledge about how to use graphic organizers with younger students. And based on the recommendation from the previous research which as the second field for the future research is to identify the types of students who can profit from using graphic organizers. By doing so, the researcher presented the systematic review or literature review of

  21. (PDF) Graphic organizers as a reading strategy: Research findings and

    Types of Graphic Organizers Throughout literature, there are several types of GOs that use different conventions to communicate information and are classified in various ways. Vekiri (2002) in her review verifies the above statement, meaning that there is no consistency in the classification system of GOs and, as a result, the same terms may be ...

  22. The Effectiveness of Graphic Organisers for Improving Reading

    We review the use of the graphic organizer as a means to assist students in the complex act of making sense of content‐area (e.g., science and social studies) text.

  23. 15 Different Types of Graphic Organizers for Education [2021]

    Written by: Orana Velarde. Sep 12, 2019. In this guide, you will find 15 different types of graphic organizers: Type #1: Circle Map Graphic Organizer. Type #2: Spider Map Graphic Organizer. Type #3: Idea Wheel Graphic Organizer. Type #4: Idea Web Graphic Organizer. Type #5: Concept Map Graphic Organizer.