Activity 3: Draw a Storyboard

Your literature review should be more like a story than a list.

  • Find themes – or, by contrast, discontinuities, breaks, disagreements – that run through the literature
  • Draw a storyboard – a plan that sums up and brings together the ideas that are emerging from your literature review

Let’s look at the storyboard below …



The original question that has been posed is ‘How do head teachers cope with difficult people?’. This might be the sort of question posed by a head teacher or deputy head teacher undertaking a master’s degree in education. To draw your storyboard you will need to have done some reading already, and it will help if you have thought about or brainstormed on this reading.

Think of this process of combining summary, analysis and synthesis as telling a story or a series of stories.
A story has a beginning, a middle and an end, and you can make your literature review take this structure.

Beginning: Begin by saying, for example, that although your area of interest is clearly a matter of national concern, researchers have tended not to focus on it, or have focused on an aspect of it that is not relevant to the teacher in the classroom.

Middle: Establish what people are actually saying, and how they are disagreeing or agreeing.

End: Sum up and move on to the reasons for doing your own thesis.

As you proceed through your storyboard, you will be able to draw a storyline, which follows a clear path through the set of ideas you have been coming up with. When you are doing this, remember:

  • Scope: A storyboard shows how broad your initial question can be; a storyline focuses your brainstorming on one specific idea or theme of the question
  • Detail: A storyboard focuses on one unspecific or general question and the branch-off topics of it;
    a storyline allows you to ask more targeted questions surrounding one of the specific offshoots
  • Do-ability: A storyboard just captures possible topics; a storyline allows you to see if these topics are actually researchable given your resources and access levels