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Literature Reviews

Guidance on conducting a narrative literature review for dissertations and theses

Locating Materials

  • Use the Find Full Text feature in your citation manager.
  • Take advantage of the Find Text links inside the databases and in Google Scholar search results.
  • Enter the article or book title in One Search to access the online article or request a PDF scan.
  • If we don't have the materials, use ILLiad to request them from another library.
  • Ask for help.
Distance Education Students: Remember to use ILLiad to request document delivery.

Review and Evaluate Results

As you read, critically appraise your selected sources and make detailed notes for each article.

Questions to Guide Your Appraisal

Academic Reading Hacks

Overwhelmed by the amount of reading? In the following 15-minute podcast, a graduate student shares tips for reading a large volume of literature.

Skills Chat - Episode 3: Academic Reading Hacks, Sheffield Hallam University Library.

Synthesize Information

A synthesis table or matrix is a useful tool for organizing information and makes it easier to write the review. The following 8-minute video  demonstrates how to construct a synthesis table.

Synthesis Table for Literature Reviews, California State University Monterey Bay Library.

Synthesis Templates

Screening & Extraction Tools

  • Covidence
    Available from UT Libraries, this systematic review screening platform supports article screening for systematic reviews. First-time users will need to create an account.

  • Rayyan is an online tool that can be used to screen and codes studies for a systematic review. Rayyan offers free accounts for early systematic review researchers, and paid accounts with added features for students and professional researchers.

  • Abstrackr is a free, open-source, web-based tool for uploading and organizing literature search results for a systematic review. Provides the ability for research teams to screen and organize abstracts in one place.

  • SysRev provides free basic accounts for users looking to use machine earning to optimize systematic reviews. Can be used for article screening and data extraction, and offers a premium subscription for additional analytics and administration tools.

  • CADIMA is a free, web-based tool that supports the documentation of systematic reviews and other review types. Provides automated duplicate removal and bulk uploads of PDFs along with detailed documentation of the review process.

  • DistillerSR offers subscription-based, automated support for various types of reviews, including systematic reviews. Pricing tiers include student, faculty, and research team subscriptions, and require a minimum of a 3-month commitment.

  • The Systematic Review Toolbox is a free search platform for tools that can be used to support various stages of the systematic review process. Includes tools for protocol development, screening, data extraction, and quality assessment.