What is a synthesis matrix?

A synthesis matrix is a table that can be used to organize research. When completed, it provides a visual representation of main ideas found in the literature and also shows where there is overlap in ideas between authors. A completed matrix will help to integrate all of the different resources together, which will facilitate the synthesis of information on a specific topic.

Why should I use a synthesis matrix?

Synthesis is an important part of academic writing, but it can become overwhelming and difficult to keep resources organized. By using the synthesis matrix, all of the key information will be saved in one place. Having this organized document will help during the outlining and writing phases.

What does a synthesis matrix look like?

A synthesis matrix can take many different forms. In the example table below, the sources are listed in the left column of the table, and the main ideas or themes about the topic are listed along the top of the table.

Synthesis table


How do I complete the synthesis matrix?

Once the basic table is constructed and resources have been critically read, add content to the table. First, list resources in the left column. It is best to include the author name(s) and year of the resource. Then, on the top row, list the main ideas or themes identified in the research.

For help making a synthesis matrix, consult our sample of a partially completed matrix