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How to Make a Literature Map Correctly


Why You Should Know How to Make a Literature Map

lit mapLiterature maps are a way to graphically show different relationships between literature and are useful in identifying areas where literature on the same topic agree and disagree. When many different pieces of literature are involved it is especially useful and makes visualizing relationships and connections easier. Literature maps are also versatile and can be adapted so that they may also be used to analyze individual literary works such as novels. The principles involved are still the same as when performing a literature review of many works. The lit map is still used to show relationships and connections between ideas. Whether it is being used to analyze a novel or as a way to help organize a literature review, literature mapping can be modified to focus on only one concept or to take in the work as a whole.

How to Make a Literature Map

The literature map is an excellent tool when used correctly. The following are the basic steps in how to create a literature map:

  • Expand your literature map – Supporting ideas in turn may spawn further secondary supporting ideas. Your main idea has several supporting ideas. The supporting ideas in turn have other ideas that support them. For example the main idea, A is true because of supporting idea B and B is true because of its supporting idea C so that including C strengthens the position taken on A. These secondary supporting ideas can then be linked with branches to the original supporting ideas and keywords added to those branches. Expand and make connections until there are sufficient supporting points or there are no further relevant connections.
  • Add keywords – Keywords can now be added to the connecting branches that provide an explanation of the relationship between the main idea and each supporting idea linked to it. Basically this explanation is how the supporting idea backs up the main idea. This visual representation can help you to see similarities between supporting ideas you not have noticed before.
  • Write down concepts that support your position – With a thesis statement you have adopted a stance. The concepts or points you write down now are the reasons why you have adopted this position. They should be connected to the main topic by branches that connect supporting ideas to the main idea.
  • Identify a question or theme – In a literature review this may be your thesis statement or it may be a theme you want to address in a novel. The theme/question identified is your main idea and should be fairly broad so that you don’t limit the number of relationships that you are able to make as you develop your map. The main idea should be written down.
  • Try various groupings – After initially identifying different relationships, try grouping supporting ideas based on how they are related to determine the best way to present your position.

As a bonus, check these book review examples out in order to understand how to review books.

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