Sometimes, if not always, we get huge amount of literature to review or we just simple want to keep our scope broader than we probably need just to be on the safe hand or to integrate our research with wider stands of literature. But how to handle tons of literature within which some are bound together in a certain way but deviating in another.
Reading all without taking notes an with a hope that you will remember all does not help at all. You can keep well some certain content in mind but with each increasing number of new reading, the marginal utility of your reading will decrease. Highlighting some printed papers might help but then you cannot print all – there are usually some that you just want to simply skim only to return when something catches you, and printing is costly and not environmentally friendly, of course. You also sometimes might get some old hard copy books that making copy could also be disastrously difficult or damage them. Aware of this, many people take notes. But the devil is hidden here. Taking handwritten notes might also end up with tons of papers. Some prefer also to put some notes on the edges of papers however facing space limitation. Sometimes we might need to simply key points of what we read, other times full quotations might be useful.
It is just another problem when your notes are helpful but you need to find that paper or book to find the exact page number or numbers for reference.
Here we are sharing with you one method deployed by our research-experts to handle large amount of literature. It is simple and does not require you to have any special software installed in your computer.
What we need for a good literature review can be classified in three general categories:
1) Essence summarized in few key points;
3) Ideas that come to your mind while you are reading – how to link a certain point to another point you read before or how to interpret it;
4) Exact page numbers for reference;
5) Grouping your readings;
6) Identify other sources.
Here we go.
1) generally classify your literature into groups based on their titles and content. Make an order for reading.
2) give up taking handwritten notes. This will save a lot of time and make life easier for you (and also others). Create a single doc file in your computer and make a bibliography of all your reading you have identified.
3) start reading in the order you identified before.
4) write down exactly in a new paragraph every paragraph or sentence that you think is important for your research. Sometimes you might write down tons of paragraphs from one chapter or just a single sentence;
5) put the page number in the end of each paragraph in your notes;
6) put a comment on each paragraph through insert a comment function.
7) number all your paragraphs in the file.
8) as you take notes, try to codify each paragraph in your notes according to how you will be using it – your comment: For instance, if the paragraph is about the classic organization theories, codify it as CLORTH. Put the same code in the end of each paragraph related with classic organization theories. Highlight the codes in different colours. You might need to codify a much narrower topic such as small group organizations SMGROR. Thus, you might have more than one code for each paragraph.Try to stick to no more than 10-12 codes;
9) When you insert a new code, quickly scan if some of previous paragraphs could be related with that;
10) Make a list of all your codes in the end of the file or in a separate file.
In the end, it will make it easier for you to develop your first draft and establish better (detailed and more) connection among many books and papers you read. To make your draft, group all your codes start by searching for each code through “Ctrl+F” function and identify all related paragraphs. Then, group them according to your ideas about your chapters, sub-chapters and lower units. Once it is ready, start searching your codes for each unit, copy-paste the quotations or key points as well as your comments in a new file and start working on them.