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CSE 185 Technical Writing for Computer Science and Engineering

Organizing pdfs and citations

Zotero is the citation management software the Library teaches and supports. It is both a pdf wrangler and a citation machine. It can be a customized database for your collected articles, books, reports, etc. and help keep your organized.

Zotero Online Tutorial -- How to Install

Zotero Online Tutorial -- 50 Minute Intro to Zotero

Synthesis matrix

Once you have collected the literature, you can synthesize how these items fit into your research project.

One strategy is to create a synthesis matrix, which helps you

  • organize the main points of each book, article, or other information resource you use
  • allows you to see how the sources relate to each other and helps guide your writing
  • see gaps where you might need to go back and look for more sources
  • show that your research is answering a gap in the literature. 

Below are two examples of literature synthesis matrices.

sample of literature review matrix

Sample of literature review matrix

Synthesis matrix tutorial

(credit Andrew Davis at University of Mississippi)

2:06 Tutorial about creating a synthesis matrix

Note: I prefer the references to be listed vertically rather than horizontally as shown in the video.