Thus far, we have focused on strategic literature searching and staying apprised of new work in our subject areas. Today, we consider ways to organize what we find and make meaning of it.
As you search for literature, there's immense value in organizing your search process. You might do this to keep track of the search strategies you used, or to stay on top of when and where you used those strategies (because databases are dynamic and content comes and goes!), or when considering where else you might need to look or what you might need to revisit. Take a look at the following two spreadsheets. Either make a copy of one of them and modify it to fit your needs, or create your own template and start organizing your search process!
Once you find literature that piques your interest and/or resonates with your work, your reading/note-taking process begins. Organizing what you're finding and learning is key to making meaning of it. Take a look at the following spreadsheets (each is slightly different). Either copy one of these, and modify it to fit your needs, or create your own template to get started.
These types of spreadsheets can help you track what you're reading, as well as your initial thoughts and reactions to the literature you have found. In addition, this type of organization can help you more easily identify recurring themes, trends, or patterns, as well as disagreements and areas for growth and further inquiry.
In your literature review process, what organizational techniques have worked for you? What else should we consider?
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Tomorrow, we'll look at citation managers as another approach to organizing your literature and making the most of your writing time.
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