Research Methods: Doing a literature review

Eira Patterson | View as single page | Feedback/Impact

Taking notes

The purpose of taking notes is to record the key ideas from sources, possibly also direct quotations that are of particular relevance. When taking notes it is very important to ensure full and accurate referencing. Notes can either be recorded in a paper based form, such as on index cards or else electronically. Electronic note taking is useful because it allows you to easily search your notes for key terms and also you can copy and paste your notes directly into your literature review.

A tabular format could be used to support note taking and engagement with journal articles. Download a Word document of this table here.

Reference of the journal article: (author(s), date of publication, title of article, journal, issue, page numbers)

Research focus of the article:

Sections of the article


Your evaluation / ideas

Research questions


Are the questions clearly focussed?

Research approach

  • -qualitative / quantitative / mixed methods

  • case study / action research / ethnographic study / experimental design etc


Does the research approach fit with the questions being researched?

Research methods


Have appropriate methods been chosen to answer the research questions?

Details of how the research was implemented:

  • Details of participants and sample size

  • Context where the research was carried out

  • Timeframe

  • Details of the researcher(s)


Consider impact of the research design on credibility and applicability of the data.

Key findings


What insights does this research give you?

How do the findings of this research relate to your experience / findings from other related research?

Implications for practice


What is the potential impact of this research:

  • on the participants of the project

  • on practice generally within this field?

How could the findings of this study be used in your setting?