Organising information

The key to effective organisation of the literature is to identify emerging themes (see section ‘Constructing a literature map’) and then using these themes as the basis for organising the sources you have collected.

Organising sources electronically

Download electronic copies of journal articles and research reports and save these in labelled folders relating to the key areas identified in your literature map. Create Word documents for each of the key themes you generate and copy and paste in relevant excerpts from electronic sources into these. Ensure you include all the necessary reference information you need to be able to locate the source again quickly at a later date and in particular note the page number for excerpts that you may use as direct quotes.

Guidelines for managing files, references and emails:

Organising paper copy sources

For journal articles and excerpts from books that are particularly relevant to your study, it is useful to print paper copies of these and to use colour coding to organise information. The basis of this is your literature map which you will have developed from your initial reading identifying the areas for discussion which will be explored in your literature review. Each of the areas on the literature map can be colour coded and this can then be used as a key for the colour coding you carry out as you read. Different colour marker pens can be used for this purpose. Also coloured post-it notes are useful to help you locate the information again quickly. Annotations can also be useful, where you write ideas for how you will use a particular highlighted section or indicating how you will make links to other points in your literature review or listing other sources that have interesting contributions on this theme. These annotations indicating the key points in a particular source are useful to facilitate identifying key themes which can then be organised into a map, which would then serve as a plan for the literature review.