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Writing a Literature Review

This guide will help you get started on your literature review by providing basic information on what a review is, how to write it and where to do the research.

Citation Management Tools

It is good to keep a record of the databases you have visited and the search terms you have used while looking for articles. This will prevent you from wasting time with duplicate searches. Pen and paper are good for recording information, but there are also free online tools that can help you manage your citations and keep notes. You can easily incorporate information from the library's databases using these tools. The UFV library also has a guide for the citation management tool EndNote Online, as provided by the Web of Science. 

Using Excel to Manage Your Research

Aside from pen and paper, many researchers and scholars use spreadsheets to manage their literature reviews. Two of these researchers have described their methods:

“I call it "dump" because I basically throw into the Excel file everything that is already in my research and conceptual/reflective memoranda. Doing the conceptual synthesis Excel dump as you do your reading allows you to create a nice map of the literature. It also helps reach conceptual saturation during the literature review.”

Pacheco-Vega’s blog post includes screen captures and shows how columns in the spreadsheet are organized.

“I wanted to create a table that I could manage effectively. Where I could move the data with ease. And, because seeing how far I’ve come helps to keep me feeling positive, where I could easily find out how many articles I’d read!

My spreadsheet is basic. It is not all singing and dancing, and I’m sure there are lots of clever things I’m missing out on. But its simplicity works for me.”

Her blog post also includes screen captures, and explains how she is able to organize her thoughts on different writers’ points of view and other pertinent information such as ethical concerns.

Lit Review 1

Lit Review 2

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