We have included a sample Synthesis Matrix below. You can create one using this image as a guideline:
As you can see, you can list trends (ideas that are repeated or shared) and gaps (ideas about which sources seem to differ or conflict, or which are simply not addressed) in the left hand column. Then, you can list paraphrases or direct quotations from the sources in the following columns; this will enable you to “see” where these sources overlap or differ. (Be careful to use quotation marks correctly in your matrix; if you are directly quoting from the source, leave yourself those clues that the material should be paraphrased later when you incorporate the ideas into your Literature Review.)
It is important to remember that a trend does not exist unless two or more sources support it. Also, a gap cannot exist unless two or more sources disagree, report conflicting data, or fail to address a particular idea. For this reason, each body paragraph needs to represent one trend or gap in your research, and contain evidence from two or more sources to demonstrate that this trend or gap exists.
For this research toolbox, use a synthesis matrix (like the one included on this page) to map out your sources. You will want to list at least four to six academic sources from your Annotated Bibliography, and locate at least two to three trends and/or gaps within the sources. Do note that each trend and/or gap should be supported by evidence from two or more sources. In other words, you do not need to include evidence from every source to support each trend and/or gap.
Next, include at least one paraphrase or direct quotation from multiple sources to support your trend and/or gaps. This activity should help you properly analyze and synthesize your sources for the Literature Review.
- Complete a synthesis matrix using a spreadsheet.
- Include at least four to six academic sources from your Annotated Bibliography
- Locate and identify at least two to three trends and/or gaps in your sources
- Include at least one paraphrase or direct quotation from each source