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Keeping Track of Your Literature
You are going to be finding numerous articles and resources as you review the literature. Some may just provide you with valuable background information, some you will eventually decide are not useful, and others will become part of your written review.
Before you start searching, consider doing the following:
1. Keep a search log, in a notebook, a Google or Word document, or other preferred method, in order to record:
- Databases or sources searched
- Databases or sources to try next
- Search terms and combinations of terms that were successful or unsuccessful
- Searches to try later
2. Use a reference manager such as Mendeley, EndNote, or Zotero which will help you keep track of citations, links and PDFs as well as allow for note-taking and highlighting. Scroll down for more.
3. Create a literature review matrix which will help give you a bird's eye view of all of the sources you find most useful and why. See the box below.
Literature Review Matrix
A literature review matrix is a graphic organizer that gives you an overview of the articles you select, how each relates to your research question, and how they relate to each other. It gives you a start to the task of synthesizing concepts and data you find.
Step 1: Study the following Literature Review Matrix description and suggestions:
Step 2: Create your own matrix using Google Docs or Sheets as you prefer. Keep in mind that you will rename labels that fit your research. You will likely edit your matrix headings as your research develops.
The following is a Literature Matrix template to help you get started.
The recommended free research management tool for the McNair Scholars. Upload citation information, add full text documents (when available), and create citations and reference lists in a variety of styles.
Learn about Mendeley and get tips for using it. Created by Eastern Kentucky University Libraries.
Other Research Managers
Andersen Library supports two citation managers, listed below. To get help setting one up or using it, contact the librarian listed in the linked LibGuide.
Free research management tool. Collect references from online databases and websites. Store citation information, get formatted citations in many styles, and create reference lists in a variety of styles. Use Cite While You Write in Microsoft Word to insert references and format papers. Visit the EndNote Basic LibGuide for more information.
EndNote Basic LibGuide
Learn more about EndNote Basic including essential information, such as detailed set up instructions, from a Whitewater Reference Librarian
Free research management tool. Collect citation information and full text sources from online databases and websites. Store citation information, get formatted citations in a variety of styles, and create reference lists. The library can assist you with using this citation manager. Visit the Zotero LibGuide for more information.
Learn more about using Zotero, including detailed set up instructions, from a Whitewater Reference Librarian.