help with lit review table

Avatar for sneaks

I want to put a table in my lit review, that indicates that while there is a load of research on topics x y and z, some of these have only theorised about 'population A' but some of them have empirical evidence about 'population A'

I was thinking about putting x y and z vertically and then having 2 columns - one for theoretical, one for empirical, and putting ticks next to them (is this making sense?) where there is research.

Obviously, though - if the examiners know of 1 paper that goes against my ticks, that I've missed, then I could be in trouble.

Has anyone done anything similar, or can think of a way of adding a caveat to say something like 'obviously there may be one or two papers out there' :$

I've thought about doing a search for papers in the areas and then reporting search result numbers, but tbh, I don't think it would add anything and is dodgy cos the search terms would probably come back with loads of irrelevant results.

Avatar for sneaks

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sorry - to make sense of this the table would be ...

Theoritical papers ....................Empirical Papers

X ................. (up)................................ (down)

Y ..............(up)

Z .................(up)

Hahaha is this making any sense to anyone?


As long as you have made a case of the literature you have included, there shouldn't be a problem, after all you are unlikely to have come across every single bit of literature in the whole world. I've made a case of for the lit I have included, which leaves out a lot that others might consider important, but which doesn't fit my area very well (well as far as I am concerned anyway!:$). It sounds like a good way of producing a summary for the examiners, and anything you can do to help that process must be good!

Avatar for Batfink27

One of my supervisors is really keen on including these sorts of tables in lit reviews. He's previously suggested to me that I should put a brief caveat in the table label, eg 'Table x: Selected literature covering y' and a line explaining the limitation in the text itself where the table is first referred to. Don't know if that would work for you?


Quote From batfink27:

One of my supervisors is really keen on including these sorts of tables in lit reviews.

So is mine; I did one up but it took me absolutely ages - I even put it in landscape :p

Avatar for sneaks

ooh this sounds encouraging. Has anyone seen any examples in journals or anything you could point me to?

ANy help with wording the caveat? :p I know I'm being cheeky, but at the end of my tether with it all now!


Regarding the caveat, I always love this link

To the author's knowledge hehe


Hi Sneaks!

I ve put tables in my lit reviews. I put columns like study, population, method, outcome, comments.
In the population, I write exactly how many were the participants, in the method I write details on the method used. In the comments I might write suggestive and point out the weakness or conclusive if the sample is big etc.
Another way I do it is: I compare penguins population on different factors. So in one column I have penguins population and study while in the rows I put: fish availability, temperature and polar bear numbers. I check if the correlation is positive I put an arrow upwards, if it is negative a downward arrow, if no correlation was found then it is an o and compare the studies. So I can say that 5 studies agreed that if the number of fish increases, then the number of penguins increases too, while only 1 study found no correlation. And this is how I see how different studies conclude on different factors. Hope it makes sense.

Avatar for sneaks

Thanks DrJeckyll, I'm really thinking far less in depth though. So rather than individual papers, talking about areas of research. So for example, if I was doing research on maltesers consumption and obesity in PhD students, I could have the areas of ...

Eating at work
addiction to malty treats

and then having a table that demonstrates that, in general, these areas have had theoretical work and/or empirical evidence. Literally, just a tick to say what they have covered.

Does that make sense? is it too general? I'd present it before going on to talk about each area.


I think it makes sense especially if you have organised your lit review in these sections and then each of them divided in theoretical and empirical. So, the table would be like a chart of how the lit review is organised.
Good luck. Let's see what other people think about that too.