Documenting searches for traditional literature reviews is not essential but will help you stay organized and perhaps save you some time. Documenting your search can help you:
Consider whether it makes sense for you to document the following during your search process:
You may want to think about criteria that will be used to select articles for your literature review based on your research question. These are commonly known as inclusion criteria and exclusion criteria. Inclusion criteria are the elements of an article that must be present in order for it to be eligible for inclusion in a literature review, while exclusion criteria are the elements of an article that disqualify the study from inclusion in a literature review.
As you read, you'll encounter various ideas, disagreements, methods, and perspectives which can be hard to organize in a meaningful way. Because you'll be reading a number of resources, a synthesis matrix helps you record the main points of each source and document how sources relate to each other.
Reference management is when you use specific tools to help you organize the references you find during a lit review search. Citation Management Software, like Zotero or Mendeley, are commonly used in literature reviews. VCU Libraries has more information about Choosing a Citation Tool to fit your needs.
Now that you have conducted your research and documented your findings, you're ready to begin writing your literature review. VCU's Writing Center consultants can help you plan, develop, and organize your literature review and a follow-up appointment will help you edit, proofread, and revise it.