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Literature Review: The What, Why and How-to Guide: Organizing for Writing

Organizing your Research is the Key to Success!

It is important to start organizing your sources as soon as you begin your research. For example:
  • Start building your bibliography!  It is never too early to start!
  • Familiarize yourself with the citation style guide of your discipline (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.)
  • Begin formatting your paper and citations in the proper style. This will save you time later!
  • Learn a citation management system to help you format your bibliography and create your own personal citation database!
One way to organize your work is to create folders! There are several ways to do so:
  • In your individual account in databases
  • In a citation management tool such as Zotero, Endnote, or Mendeley
  • In a spreadsheet

Whatever you choose, be consistent in the way you create folders and save your PDFs.

Each folder should follow a logical structure where to sort and place the articles you plan to use for your literature review.

Some examples for categories are:

  • topics
  • geographical location 
  • time period
  • theoretical frameworks
  • relevance

By clustering the articles you find under a clear organizational structure, you are already creating the categories that you are going to use in your writing

I find it useful to create a spreadsheet in advance develop my categories and the criteria to add articles under it. 

Below are some examples:

 Organize your articles by Relevance based on your topic!

Article information Use Seminal Important Related to topic Not Useful
Author, title of article, title of journal, vol., number, pages. To develop theoretical framework Add a summary of the article’s main ideas Add a summary of the article’s main ideas Explain how it is related 🗹
Article 2 To define key concepts " " " " " "  
Article 3 To define methodology " " " " " "  

 Organize your articles by Concepts based on your topic!

Article information Women representation in Literature Gender Roles and Literature
Author, title of article, title of journal, vol., number, pages. Add a summary of the article’s main ideas and how it related to the concept Add a summary of the article’s main ideas and how it related to the concept

 


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