Literature Review Matrix

Instructions: You will conduct a web search on your area of focus using Google, Bing, Yahoo, or any other major search engine. Be sure to take the time to inform yourself on sound research sources including use of peer reviews as listed in the recommended and required resources for the week. To get you started, view What is a Scholarly Journal Article?. Next, you will analyze the first five results that appear from your search in a table format using Microsoft Word. Then, using the same keywords you used to search the Web, you will conduct a search in the Ashford University Library using one of the academic databases (ERIC, ProQuest, EBSCOhost, and so forth) and create a table using Microsoft Word. Finally, you will select two sources from either table that you feel are the best overall based on currency, credibility, authority, and academic integrity and construct a summary. For each article in your tables, use the following format:


APA Citation


Source Type

(e.g., journal article, magazine article, book, and so forth)


(e.g., two to three sentences summarizing the contents of the source)



The assignment needs to include the following areas of content.


  • Web Search (2 points): Construct a table that includes an APA citation, source type, and a two- to three-sentence annotation for five scholarly sources gathered from an open Web search.
  • Library Search (2 points): Construct a table that inclides an APA citation, source type, and a two- to three-sentence annotation for five scholarly sources gathered from a library search.
  • Summary – Source Selection (1 point): State the two sources you have selected and in one paragraph evaluate what factors influenced your decision to select these articles over the others from your search results.
  • Summary – Learning (5 points): In a paragraph, explain what you learned through this process of selecting articles and what was most informative for you about this experience.
  • Summary – Adaptations (.5 points): In a paragraph, explain the adaptations you will make in your search and evaluation process as a result of what you located during this assignment.
  • Summary – Application (.5 points): In a paragraph, explain how you will use the information you found to help inform your ideas about your action research proposal.


Written Communication
The assignment needs to adhere to the following areas for written communication.


  • Page Requirement (.5 points): Your assignment must be three to four pages, not including title and references pages.
  • APA Formatting (.5 points): Use APA formatting consistently throughout.
  • Syntax and Mechanics (.5 points): Display meticulous comprehension and organization of syntax and mechanics, such as spelling and grammar. Your written work should contain no errors and be very easy to understand.




In Week Two, we will be critically evaluating the quality and credibility of various sources of information as they relate to the problem/topic you identified last week in your early action research plan.


  • Discussion 1: The Literature Review Debate. You will discuss your viewpoint of looking at literature, and if it should done or avoided during the early stages of research.  




  • Assignment: Literature Review Matrix. Conduct an Internet search analysis using key words from your research of the first five entries that come up. Then go to the Ashford Library and, using the same key words, identify the first five entries that come up. Then select two sources that match the criteria of currency, credibility, authority, and academic integrity, and write a summary of the articles.





Literature Reviews


Literature Reviews are an integral part of doing research.  Having knowledge of previous research is certainly important in doing your own research (if nothing else, it can outline the pitfalls for you), but it is important for three other reasons as well.

First, a literature review can help you to both frame and narrow your research. A common problem for researchers is writing an overly broad research question that will soon sink the researcher in an ocean of data to master.  By thoroughly reviewing and categorizing the research, the researcher can help himself/herself by focusing on a single area for research.

Second, the literature review can provide a rationale for your research (Galvin, 2007, page 13).  Why do this study, anyway? What value will it provide to others?  Why is it worth the time, effort, and money to do?  A literature review can help answer those questions.

Finally, reviewing the literature can clear up any lingering questions that you may have about your potential research topic.  The value here is related to the first item in this section—framing and narrowing the focus so that you can get to the heart of what you are studying.

Briefly considered, a Literature Review consists of five parts:


  1. Data Base Selection
  2. Identifying Sub Topics
  3. Surveying Articles
  4. Reading Articles
  5. Writing the Review


Selecting the correct data base is a critical place to start.  The internet is a wonderful thing, but it is undisciplined and disorganized.  A professionally maintained data base is far superior to spending hours Googling search terms that will not lead anywhere useful.  In education, of course, the data base of choice is ERIC.  As mentioned earlier in this course, the Education Research Information Clearinghouse contains over one million items dating back to the mid-1960s.  Many are full text, and it is the one-stop shop for most education research.  Between ERIC, the ProQuest Dissertation and Thesis Data Base, and a good online library catalog, you should be able to find what you are looking for.

Once you have done this, identifying sub topics in the literature is a very good idea.  This helps to narrow the field and give some structure to what you are doing.  Many literature reviews focus on three or four sub-categories.  Surveying the literature is a natural extension of this process, in that you are finding
literature to fit categories (or the other way round—either is acceptable).  In this survey, you are likely using article titles and abstracts to survey and categorize the literature.

Once you have done this, the next step is reading the literature.  There is no getting around it—this takes time and effort, and it can be, honestly, a little dull sometimes.  This is especially true of quantitative research, in which statistical analysis plays a strong part.

Finally, writing the literature review is something of an art. It takes the form of a bibliographic essay, in which you write a paragraph or a page about the article, how it relates to the study at hand, what the major findings were, etc.  Strong expository writing skills can help with this process.  The key thing is to say what you have to say in an organized fashion that fits with the rest of your research.  If you can do that, you have accomplished what is necessary.

MAED Self-Check: Begin the approval process by discussing your early ideas with your employer or manager so as to complete the Informed Consent requirement by the end of Week 4. It is advised you wait however, to complete the Informed Consent form until after your instructor has worked with you throughout the instructional weeks to solidify your action research plan.





Galvin, J. (2006). Writing literature reviews: A guide for students of the social and behavior sciences. Glendale, CA: Pyrczak Publishing



Additional Resources


Borgman, C. (n.d.). Scholarship in the digital age: Information, infrastructure, and the internet. The MIT Press. Retrieved from

Engle, M. (2013).
How to prepare an annotated bibliography. Cornell University Library. Retrieved from

Lucy Scribner Library. (n.d.).
Writing an annotated bibliography. Retrieved from

The Research Assistant (

The Writing Center. (n.d.).
Literature reviews. The University of North Carolina. Retrieved from (n.d.).
Preface. Retrieved from


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EDU 671 Literature Review Matrix

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