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Native Voices

Writing Tutors and Resources

Saint Martin's University Writing Center

The Writing Center is an excellent on-campus resource for one-on-one tutoring services.

Need help on an upcoming research project or paper? Schedule an appoint with a writing tutor:

Writing Center


Writing Help Online

Excelsior OWL

This online writing resource provides a unique multimedia support service for writers, offered through an assortment of activities, quizzes, videos, games, and interactive PDFs.

Literature reviews

Literature reviews

First thing to know about literature reviews is that they are weird.  They can be dry reads and are almost never easy to write.  If you have to write one and are struggling you are not alone.  However, they can be extremely valuable for the following reasons:

  • Reading them gives us a good sense how others have talked about the topic in the past, so we can understand which subtopics have been developed, which subtopics seem to be agreed upon, which subtopics are controversial, etc.
  • Reading them gives us good sense of who the important thinkers/researchers are in the area.
  • Writing them can help us get a clearer picture of what we actually know about the topic and relevant subtopics and, significantly, where gaps in our knowledge lie.
  • Writing them in the context of papers, articles, our dissertations demonstrates our understanding of the topic and can either establish credibility of our conclusions and/or recommendations or weaken it if we do not demonstrate a very thorough understanding of existing literature.

One of the hardest things about writing literature reviews is that the subject is the discourse surrounding our topics and, while we do have to develop interpretations about that discourse, they are not about what we think about the topic.

Below is a short video on an approach to thinking about or conceptualizing literature reviews.

Below is a copy of the structure diagram introduced in the video, as well as a blank literature review matrix and an example in which one column has been filled in.


Below is a link to the literature review matrix and below that is an example of a filled in matrix.










Picture of the lit review matrix with an entry


Zotero basics

Zotero basics

The following videos give a quick overview of the basic functions of Zotero (based on a presentation given, Nov. 2020).

Zotero does have an add-on that allows us to use bibliography tools from Zotero in Microsoft Word.  Here is a quick video on that tool.

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