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HDR Literature Review Plan

Choose your software

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:

  • Reference management software
  • Literature analysis tools.

Make the best possible start on your review by choosing and setting up your software early in the process!


Reference management software

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.

How to choose?

Although serving the same goal, each tool enjoys some unique features. See this table comparing the functionality of some popular tools to learn more.

What to consider?

Before investing time and energy in a particular reference management software, consider: 

  • Your personal preferences with technology
  • Your discipline practice 
  • The support and information required to master the tool

Deakin resources

Literature analysis tools

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.

How to choose?

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.

What to consider?

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:

  • Which tool is commonly used in your disciplines?
  • How do you get access to the tool? e.g., open source or via a Deakin University subscription?
  • Which tool works better for you in terms of technological and functional features?
  • Where and how much support you will get on using the tool?

Deakin resources

Deakin University offers staff and students free download of NVivo via Deakin Software Library. A range of support is available on using NVivo: