Developing your literature review is a creative process. How you approach organising references and writing is specific to your individual style and technology preferences. There are a range of tools and software applications that you can use to make your literature review process more efficient over time.
Before starting your literature review journey, we recommend mapping out your workflow and getting your tools organised. This section will offer you a suggested workflow for your literature review, including the use of software to manage your references, annotate, explore and cite them.
A typical literature review workflow involves several steps. Click on the plus icons below to read more about what these steps entail:
Although some researchers may prefer to use a pen and paper method for their literature review, we recommend taking advantage of different types of software to help you manage, organise, and synthesise your literature review sources.
There are two specific types of software that might be useful during your literature review:
Make the best possible start on your review by choosing and setting up your software early in the process!
Reference management software is used to create a living database of literature for your review. There are many options, such as EndNote (Deakin supported), Zotero, Mendeley and more.
Although serving the same goal, each tool has some unique features. See this table comparing the functionality of some popular tools to learn more.
Before investing time and energy in a particular reference management software, consider:
Analysing a body of literature, to some extent, is similar to the process of qualitative analysis. Literature can be presented in the form of text, video, audio or images. Therefore, you can leverage the use of qualitative analysis tools to make your literature analysis more efficient.
There are a range of qualitative analysis tools available, proprietary or open source. One of the most popular tools is NVivo. See some open source alternatives analysis tools to NVivo.
Similar to choosing a reference management software, you need to consider a range of factors before investing your time and energy in an analysis tool:
Deakin University offers staff and students free download of NVivo via Deakin Software Library. A range of support is available on using NVivo: