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Literature Reviews

Create a Thematic Table

When you read the literature, keep track of main topics or themes. 
Ask yourself the following questions:
  • What are the big topics being discussed in the literature? 
  • What are the most important topics being discussed in the literature?
It can be very helpful to develop a system for keeping track of what your different sources are saying about each of the themes.
  • Put pieces of information you think are important about these themes into folders on your desktop as you read.
  • Keep a check list of each source that is talking about each of the themes.


  • Build a table that can be used to synthesize the information from all of the literature about the themes and help to organize your paper.


Word document templates of two possible types of these tables are available below.


The following 19-minute video offers a lesson on using extraction and thematic tables to organize, analyze, and synthesize information from your literature.

Click here or on the image to access the video in D2L.