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Searching Literature More Effectively: Organize Citations & Search Strategies

Citation Managers

For more information on a variety of citation managers (EndNote, RefWorks, Zotero, Mendeley), see the Library's guide:

Organizing Your Literature Search/Search Results

Charts like this Literature Review Matrix (.doc) help you organize what you find in your literature search. 

(This is a simplified version of the matrix presented in Health sciences literature review made easy: the matrix method, J. Garrard; Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Learning, 2011) 

» You can adapt RefWorks, EndNote, Zotero, or Mendeley to be used with a matrix like this by using notes or custom fields in your database. 
» This EndNote custom style was created for use with a literature review matrix; download it to the Styles folder in your EndNote program: 

Save your search strategies

Nearly all the databases you use to find articles, etc., retain your search history.

Literature reviews, like epidemiological research, should be rigorous and reproducible. Save or print your search history to help document your search strategy, which should include:

  • the date of the search(es),
  • search terms used (keywords; title words; MeSH/thesaurus terms/descriptors),
  • any limits (eg, language, publication dates) that you placed on your search,
  • how many relevant citations you found in each database.

Using PubMed's Clipboard and My NCBI can help with both saving your search strategy and the citations you find.
See the PubMed Tips & Tricks guide for more information.

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