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Writing a Literature Review

Includes definitions, approaches to literature reviews, finding sources, organizing the literature review, and practical tips.

Taking notes

Why take notes?

  • Identify and remember key points
  • Help recall and concentration
  • Use in research and writing
  • See connections between sources
  • Avoid plagiarism

More ideas about notetaking

  • Check sources against each other -- look for inconsistencies and agreements
  • Read the abstract first -- then read the introduction and conclusion
  • Take notes on items that relate to your thesis  
  • Think as you read
  • Ask yourself questions about articles
    • Can you restate the main point of the article?
    • What evidence or logic does the article use?
    • What is your assessment of the claims made in the articles?
    • Write down any original ideas prompted by reading the article


Lipson, C. (2005).  How to write a BA thesis: A practical guide from your first ideas to your finished paper. University of Chicago Press.

Ridley, D. (2008). The literature review: A step-by-step guide for students. Sage.

Annotate with Zotero

The free citation manager Zotero also has features for note taking and annotating your sources if they are saved as PDFs. You can create notes, tags, highlight, and more. Check out the library's video tutorials on using Zotero to keep notes for your sources: