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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Demystifying the Literature Review

This guide provides an overview of the literature review and its place in a research project, thesis, or dissertation, and demonstrates some strategies and resources for finding the information you need using the U of I Library.

Documenting the Search Process

Keep a list of:

  • Where you searched (name of database, catalog, etc.)
  • When you searched
  • Search terms and combinations of terms that were successful
  • Search terms and combinations of terms that were not successful
  • Searches or leads you want to pursue next

Citation Management

Using citation management software can be very useful tools as you research and track your search process.  Citation management software stores the citations of the articles that you send to it so you can easily keep track of and organize the resources you have found, what you have read, and any notes associated with your citations. It also makes creating your bibliography much easier.

Some popular citation managers are:

  • EndNote
  • Zotero
  • Mendeley

Please visit our Library Guides on EndNote, Zotero, and Mendeley. Savvy Researcher workshops on these citation managers are scheduled regularly throughout the semester. Check the Savvy Researcher schedule for more details.

RSS Feeds and Search Alerts

You can make keeping up with new literature in your field easier by setting up alerts that will repeat your successful searches and send you information on new articles through RSS Feeds or email alerts.  For example, you can set one up in Google Scholar for your advisor’s name so that when Google Scholar search finds a new article he/she has written or a new reference to his work you will be notified. For more information on how to set up these alerts and what they can do for you, check out our Current Awareness guide.