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Literature Review How To

This guide aims to assist you with the process of writing a literature review.

What is Synthesis

What is Synthesis? Synthesis writing is a form of analysis related to comparison and contrast, classification and division. On a basic level, synthesis requires the writer to pull together two or more summaries, looking for themes in each text. In synthesis, you search for the links between various materials in order to make your point. Most advanced academic writing, including literature reviews, relies heavily on synthesis. (Temple University Writing Center)  

How To Synthesize Sources in a Literature Review

Literature reviews synthesize large amounts of information and present it in a coherent, organized fashion. In a literature review you will be combining material from several texts to create a new text – your literature review.

You will use common points among the sources you have gathered to help you synthesize the material. This will help ensure that your literature review is organized by subtopic, not by source. This means various authors' names can appear and reappear throughout the literature review, and each paragraph will mention several different authors. 

When you shift from writing summaries of the content of a source to synthesizing content from sources, there is a number things you must keep in mind: 

  • Look for specific connections and or links between your sources and how those relate to your thesis or question.
  • When writing and organizing your literature review be aware that your readers need to understand how and why the information from the different sources overlap.
  • Organize your literature review by the themes you find within your sources or themes you have identified.