Thinking back to our institute for INFO 5000, I remember being particularly daunted by the idea of our term paper and doing a literature review. When I did my previous M.A. in literature, I had not done such research, and I was hesitant about how I’d even begin to tackle such a project.

I was thankful that our class broke down how we’d be turning in our papers, giving us time to refine our topics, and the chance to get feedback before turning in a final version. But for me it was the literature map that helped me envision my final paper.

Out of many new concepts I tried to master during my first semester, this one probably resonated the most. I have always been someone that prefers to work from an outline, but this was even better.

I had reviewed my articles and looked for common themes before starting my review, but I saw that using a graphic like this would allow me to have one image that could drive all of my writing. It helped me to create a focused review without forgetting any one article as I moved from topic to topic. And it helped to build an overarching organization that made my writing more coherent. (See the final product here.)

If and when I attempt another literature review, whether for a class or for publication, I know I’ll be keeping this tool in mind to use again.