Conducting a thorough critique of the literature is incredibly important, but as a writer, you may feel daunted by the enormity of the task. Following these 10 tips can help you focus your writing efforts. These tips can also help you write a literature review that moves beyond summarizing the research and toward critiquing it well.
Going beyond a summary and creating a discussion of published work can be accomplished through the thorough tracking of sources and the source highlights and links. While this can sound tricky and time consuming when referencing hundreds of source materials ranging from journal articles and books to research papers and videos, reference manager and writing tools like Citavi can help streamline this process (and more as we’ll cover in the upcoming tips).
A literature review is a well-reasoned, evidence-based, scholarly argument that demonstrates the need for your study. While your literature review will contain a great deal of information, it is not (primarily) an informative text. Keeping this in mind at the outset can lead you toward a critique that situates your study within the scholarly discourse relevant to your research topic.
Learn more in the on-demand webinar Conducting and Constructing a Literature Review for Maximum Impact.
A well-written literature review thoroughly analyzes and critiques the key concepts or quantitative variables central to your research topic. These key concepts or variables are generally expressed in a problem statement, so having a problem statement drafted can help you align your literature review to your research topic. For instance, rather than writing about “Burnout in Education,” your problem statement could lead you to focus your review on “Burnout in K-12 School Leaders.” This narrowed focus makes your literature review relevant and, importantly, doable.
Learn more about writing a compelling argument and developing your voice in the free on-demand trainings from the Research and Technical Writing Institute.
Even though your outline is likely to change, create a document with headings that describe the pockets of literature you will review. In the above example about burnout in school leaders, you might have a heading called "Factors Influencing Burnout." You might already know that some factors to consider are lack of work/life balance, lack of resources, and dissatisfaction with pay and benefits. Create those subheadings.
If you use a reference manager like Citavi, you can breeze through this step! With Citavi, you can save your sources directly in the program, create your literature review outline within the knowledge organizer, then export it to Word.
The headings in your lit review outline can be used as keywords to search for relevant literature. Remember to document your search strategy and use synonyms. You might also locate a systematic review on your research topic, which is rich with references. If you have Citavi, data bases like Scopus and EBSCCO integrate with the software – letting you easily search for sources. You can also use the Citavi Picker which helps bring sources in from sites like Google Scholar by identifying ISBNs and DOIs on web pages and sending reference information to your Citavi project.
We recommend using reference management software such as Citavi to organize your research articles. This saves you tremendous time as Citavi helps you methodically manage quotes, sources, notes, and articles.
If that isn’t an option, create folders and save your research articles as the in-text citation (e.g., an article by Parker et al. 2021 would be saved as such). Having one folder for all of your articles is the equivalent of piling your desk with stacks of articles that you can't remember if you have read or not. If you organize your research articles, you will be able to review all of the articles that relate to a specific topic in your literature review.
Learn more in this on-demand webinar Organizing Information in Your Field of Study.
This step is critical to literature review success. You will search for trends in the literature. Therefore, you need to extract relevant information from articles and group this information together to analyze it. Writers often begin by sharing the results of one study, then the next, and so on, without offering up any synthesis of the literature. Synthesis is the result of analysis, and analysis needs to encompass articles that are grouped in some way. In the burnout example above, you may have extracted several findings that demonstrate that lack of work/life balance is a major factor in school leader burnout. You will want to state this finding clearly and review all of the articles about it together, so go ahead and group them in an annotation table at this stage.
An alternative to the annotation table is Citavi’s knowledge organizer which essentially replaces an annotation table. This feature in Citavi lets you save notes, memos, and quotes from articles in the knowledge organizer while still linking to the original source. Even better, you can add categories to your notes, memos, and sources based on your keywords and themes.
Once you have annotated several articles, analyze them for patterns, discrepancies, and gaps. A pattern could be a similar finding that you have noticed across several studies. It could also be a pattern of participants (e.g., the phenomenon has mostly been studied in female-identifying participants) or methodology (e.g., 10 of the 12 studies are quantitative). Often, we can infer from a pattern to identify a gap in the literature. Using NVivo in your literature review can help you find the patterns and themes in your literature, piece together which researchers often write together, and keep you organized throughout the process of synthesizing literature.
Learn more in the on-demand webinar Accelerating your Literature Review with Citavi & NVivo 14.
So, you located a pattern, discrepancy, or gap in the literature, what next? Make sure that you state your finding clearly and concisely in the form of a synthesis statement. For instance, "Much of the research regarding school leader burnout focuses on the reasons why school leaders burnout" is a synthesis statement. Reporting that a single author "X" found something interesting is not.
As you report your findings, place your synthesis statements as topic sentences (main ideas) of the paragraphs you write. Then put the evidence you pull from your studies to support that main idea. A hallmark of well-synthesized writing is that paragraphs weave information from several studies together around a central claim. Using the MEAL plan structure (Main Idea, Evidence, Analysis, Link) can help you craft paragraphs that are cohesive and analytical — hallmarks of good literature review writing.
Learn more in this on-demand webinar from the Research and Technical Writing Institute, Developing Your Voice: How to Paraphrase, Make Claims, and Synthesize Literature.
When you are writing your literature review, you are wielding large amounts of information, and you are likely writing in complex ways that are likely new to you. As with all writing, expect that you will need to revise your work. Schedule time and, if necessary, ask for help about areas that you need to revise. Then, systematically, dive into your writing (e.g., do not revise for everything at once).
The above tips are important because they provide much-needed structure for you as you write your literature review. Often, writers set out with vague notions about what a literature review is, and the process begins to feel amorphous. These tips, and reference management software like Citavi, can help you break the process of writing a literature review down, organize your notes and sources, automatically create citations, and bring focus to the writing process. Return to this list again and again if you feel lost in “literature review land.” They will help you regain your footing and return to your writing with a renewed sense of clarity.
Dissertation by Design is an organization that supports and coaches all types of writers including students, academics, and research professionals.
The practice of thematic analysis is widely used in qualitative analysis but sometimes not acknowledged or confused with other approaches. Here at Lumivero, we break down the ambiguities of thematic analysis as an approach and hope this interpretation can breathe new life into it as new and emerging forms of content become more integral to the already established research tool.
NVivo offers a powerful solution for conducting thematic analysis due to its robust features and easy-to-use interface. The software is designed to enable researchers to quickly and accurately analyze large amounts of data and uncover underlying themes.
Thematic analysis is not a methodology but a tool which can be used across different methods (Boyatzis 1998) and was first labeled as an approach in the 1970s (Merton, 1975). It is used to find common themes in content such as:
This practice is dynamic. It can be done manually (by hand), in Excel, or with thematic analysis software or Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis (CAQDAS) software tool. It traverses traditional qualitative research and quantitative data, allowing researchers to ask more questions of their content and conduct thematic analysis from large data sets like interviews.
In Methods: Teaching Thematic Analysis, Virginia Braun and Victoria Clarke describe viewing thematic analysis as “theoretically flexible because the search for, and examination of, patterning across language does not require adherence to any particular theory of language, or explanatory meaning framework for human beings, experiences or practices" -- allowing for thematic analysis to be applied within a wide variety of theoretical frameworks.
Thematic analysis as a tool is especially versatile as it can be helpful for those new or experienced in research and for its ability to be used in a range of research categories and theoretical perspectives.
In the Thematic Analysis Using NVivo 14 webinar, Ben Meehan Ph.D. discussed Braun and Clarke’s six steps of thematic analysis.
To learn more about using NVivo 14 for thematic analysis, watch our on-demand webinar Thematic Analysis Using NVivo.
Put simply, you may be looking for the right way to explain or express patterns in your content. Consider this example: you are analyzing representations of women on social media. You want to collect data from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as rich datasets so you can access the online conversations and content about your research, organization or topic of interest, but also the valuable data behind the comments, like demographics and locations.
The challenge with importing, managing and analyzing different content types is how do you find the similarities or differences in the media before you? What do you do with it then?
To better understand when to use thematic analysis and for general best practices for thematic analysis, check out the on-demand webinar by Braun and Clarke Introduction to Thematic Analysis.
Thematic analysis helps you find connections in your content and understanding the underlying themes to help inform decisions.
Braun and Clarke encourage thematic analysis as the starting method to teach students new to qualitative research. “[Thematic analysis] is accessible, flexible, and involves analytic processes common to most forms of qualitative research. Students can progress from [thematic analysis] to grounded theory, IPA and discourse analysis, or progress from producing largely descriptive [thematic analysis] to producing rich and complex, conceptually informed [thematic analysis].”
Thematic analysis encourages researchers to use queries to ask complex questions and identify new meaning in your data. Test ideas, explore patterns and see connections between themes, topics, people and places in your project. Look for emerging themes, find words and discover concepts using text search and word frequency queries.
Thematic analysis can be used as a technique on its own or it can be used as a first step in a variety of methodological approaches to analyzing qualitative data including:
Once you do this, you can search for content based on how it's coded using coding queries. Check for consistency and compare how different users have coded material using coding comparison queries. Cross-tabulate coded content and explore differences in opinions, experiences and behavior across different groups using matrix coding queries.
By visualizing your insights, you can explore even further. Get a sense of the larger trends happening and dive in deeper. Discover a new perspective. Identify new and interesting themes. Share results with others.
Visualizations can also provide an easy way to communicate findings with broader audiences.
Easily understand how content plays a role in influencing decisions or behaviours.
Gain an advantage with NVivo – powerful software for qualitative data and content analysis that helps you make insight-driven decisions.
NVivo has a wide range of visualizations. Below are a few which are particularly useful to thematic analysis:
NVivo 14 provides additional advantages for thematic analysis for interview and document analysis with these powerful features:
Editor's note: This blog was originally published in March 2017, and was updated in February 2022 and October 2023 for accuracy.
For more information about thematic analysis see these resources:
For more information about thematic analysis see these resources:
Boyatzis, R. E. (1998). Transforming qualitative information: Thematic analysis and code development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Braun, V. & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101.
Merton, R.K. (1975). Thematic analysis in science: Notes on Holton’s concept. Science as Culture, 188(4186), 335–338.
Learn about Dr. Bhattacharya’s qualitative research in the field of decolonizing and gain insights into balancing research, mentoring, and supervision.
In the realm of research, it's a well-known fact that qualitative research holds a distinct position as it is complex, theoretical, and abstract. As we delve deeper into this field, we realize the depth and the labyrinthine structure it offers. Our latest podcast episode provides you with a journey through this maze, guided by Dr. Kakali Bhattacharya, Professor at the School of Human Development and Organizational Studies and Education at the University of Florida.
Dr. Bhattacharya's work in the field of decolonization in qualitative research is not just impressive but also groundbreaking. Her passion was sparked by Ruth Behar's book, Translated Woman, which opened her eyes to a different dimension of qualitative research.
“She (Behar) was talking about how this process of translating somebody's stories translates the storyteller as well, and the stories that she was sharing were so powerful and also so reflective of the social conditions that affect certain groups of people in a certain kind of way that I was moved. I was in tears, and I didn't understand that that was research,” explained Dr. Bhattacharya.
As Dr. Bhattacharya started work on her dissertation, she was greatly influenced by Linda Tuhiwai-Smith's work on decolonizing methodologies and conversations with her colleague, Violet Johnson. After being encouraged to decolonize her mind and methodology, Dr. Bhattacharya dove into reading post-colonial scholars’ work. This research led Dr. Bhattacharya to the term “D/colonizing” to explain the complex movement of transnational diasporic groups between the present and utopic dreaming.
“I felt like decolonizing work is for a transnational diasporic group of people is always a shuttling. It's a shuttling between where we are now to where we might want to imagine, without being in any relationship with any colonizing structures, discourses, materiality, so that utopian dreaming as a decolonizing strategy and then current negotiation was how I was situating that idea. And so I slash the word and call it D-slash-colonizing,” said Dr. Bhattacharya.
Dr. Bhattacharya continues on to describe the complexities of the phrase D/colonizing.
“I've kind of looked at like what's in the slash, what's in this in between places, what's in the movement back and forth, because there is no more fluid and no more pure colonizing spaces and no more pure decolonizing spaces. So, we're always moving through multiple types of consciousness of our own colonization and our own resistance to it. So, I wanted to make it messier than like a clean, pure thing. So that's how I got into the D-slash-colonization,” said Dr. Bhattacharya.
As we delve further into the conversation, Dr. Bhattacharya shares the challenges and goals of qualitative research.
“Linda Tuhiwai-Smith first alerted me that research is an exploitative enterprise. It's a colonizing enterprise. It has history of doing some very bad things. You know, mostly from Western researchers, and in qualitative research particularly, there are some new movements that have started that I haven't been able to align myself with,” said Dr. Bhattacharya.
To ensure she conducts her research in an ethical way, Dr. Bhattacharya developed a guide for her research relationships.
“I really needed to have something that I could use, and it could also illuminate a path of ethics, of relationality with the people that I work with as participants or co-researchers,” said Dr. Bhattacharya. “I have argued that you posture to give up your will to know. … You're not owed anything. You enter the space with humility to learn what is being offered to you by folks, but you're not owed anything."
Continuing the topic of a guide for herself and others, Dr. Bhattacharya gives us a glimpse of her unique mentoring approach, which encourages students to center their identity while fearlessly breaking the traditional rules of dissertations. She has penned a book, Fundamentals of Qualitative Research: A Practical Guide, 2017, that serves as a profound resource for readers interested in applying qualitative research in their work.
“One of the things that I want to do when I mentor graduate students is to make sure that ... their voice is not silenced but, you know, sharpened, amplified and brought to bear on their work instead of telling them that they need to rigidize themselves into a certain academic voice,” said Dr. Bhattacharya.
Regarding her book, Dr. Bhattacharya explained that she wanted to give people who knew nothing about qualitative research a practical guide with exercises that, by the time they finished the book, they would have a decent understanding of how to meet qualitative research in their own work.
The final segment of our discussion focuses on Dr. Bhattacharya's personal journey juggling research, teaching, and supervising. She discusses actively working to improve her balance more recently due to an autoimmune disease and learning to tune in to her body and energy.
Dr. Bhattacharya describes giving all of her time to writing, researching, and helping students – occasionally to her detriment. Now, she has designed her classes in an efficient way that allows her to assist students while not burning out.
Throughout the episode, Dr. Bhattacharya stresses the importance of unlearning and relearning. She shares that her research has evolved over time and has taken a deeper dive into D/colonizing. She emphasizes the importance of centering one's identity, unlearning traditional research rules, and fostering relationships with research participants.
“First, figure out why are you drawn to this work. … Not to just say that because I want to save people, but really figure out like when was the first time you became interested in this? Why are you interested in this? And try to figure that out. Not for academic purposes, but for the purpose of your being. ... Don't chase currency, chase your purpose,” concluded Dr. Bhattacharya.
The beauty of this episode lies not just in the insights shared but also in the candid experiences and practical tips that Dr. Bhattacharya offers. She shares her journey, her struggles, and her triumphs – making it a truly enlightening exploration. Whether you are a student, a researcher, or a professional, this episode promises a deep understanding of qualitative research and its intricate nuances.
Embark on this journey with us and let Dr. Bhattacharya guide you through the intricate maze that is qualitative research in Episode 56: Chase Your Purpose, Not Currency.
If you’re wondering ‘what is a literature review’ or trying to figure out how to write a literature review, you’ve come to the right place. While a literature review can be a summary of sources, it can also discuss published information in a variety of formats on a specific subject area and tends to have an organizational pattern that combines both a summary (a recap of the information) and a synthesis (a re-organization or the information).
The literature review for your article, thesis, or dissertation requires keeping track of sources, their important points, and their links to each other – for hundreds of journal articles, books, research papers, videos, scholarly articles, and other references. So, it’s no surprise grad students and researchers frequently struggle with how to write a literature review.
Many university guides on the subject recommend creating a synthesis matrix for keeping track of sources, ideas, and quotations. Traditionally, this matrix was often created as a Word document, and you’ll still find many templates available online. However, more and more academics now seem to be using spreadsheets instead.
This blog post will look into the advantages and disadvantages of using Excel and Word, explore the reasons for why researchers use spreadsheets, and discuss the benefits of using a specialized writing and reference management program like Citavi.
Proponents of the Excel approach are quick to tout the many benefits. First, there’s no need to pay for a new piece of software, since if you already have Microsoft Office installed on your computer, you also already have Excel. Otherwise, you can also use Google Sheets which has all the options you might need.
Then, there’s the simplicity and flexibility of using a spreadsheet. Set up time is pretty low. You simply create a few columns and can get started using your literature tracking system in a matter of minutes.
Another benefit is how easily customizable the solution is – you can make the categories be exactly what you want. Need a column to track the location of a study or a specific intervention? You just need to add it. Even though Excel can get complicated if you set up formulas or other customizations, for a literature review spreadsheet you usually can just use it as a simple table.
So far, the advantages listed apply to Word as well, but Excel and Citavi have one crucial advantage over Word: it lets you search, sort, and filter. Have a vague recollection of a note you wrote but only remember one term you used in it? Use Excel’s “Find” feature. Want to sort all your notes by year of publication of your source? Nothing could be easier than sorting your “year” column in ascending order. Want to find clinical trials with female participants with a statistically significant intervention? If you set up your Excel sheet as described below under “Version 2” such combinations of queries are possible, and in Citavi, setup is even easier as it lets you save sources directly into the program and organize your literature review outline in the knowledge organizer.
So, with all these advantages, how does the Excel method work in practice?
When you search for “Excel literature review”, Dr. Elaine Gregersen’s 2016 blog post “How I use Excel to manage my Literature Review” about her personal literature tracking system is one of the first results to pop up. It’s an approach that’s still often praised in discussion threads about Excel literature tracking methods. In her own words, it’s a simple approach, but that’s what makes it work. Her approach uses a literature review spreadsheet in addition to a reference manager. She uses one sheet only and includes columns for basic citation information, keywords, objectives, methods, and conclusions. In addition, she adds in four personalized categories: happy thoughts, unhappy thoughts, her own ethical concerns, and the author’s ethical concerns. These last two columns perfectly align with her field of Autoethnography. The happy thoughts column is for notes, such as how findings relate to her own work, while the unhappy thoughts column is for times when she disagrees with an author, among other uses.
Dr. Raul Pacheco uses a similar one-sheet method, which he calls the Conceptual Synthesis Excel Dump (CSED) technique since he tosses in any literature he might be using for analysis. His setup overlaps in some ways with Gregersen’s but has a few differences; he has columns for the concept (i.e. theme), citation, main idea, three columns for notes (which function similarly to Gregersen’s happy and unhappy thoughts), cross-references, quotes, and page numbers.
A useful tip is to create a dedicated column for quotations to help separate out the authors’ exact words from one’s analysis of them or the article as a whole. This can help you inadvertently misrepresent an author’s ideas as your own when you’re later writing your literature review.
Taking the models laid out by Gregersen and Pacheco as a jumping off point, it’s easy to make some tweaks for even better usability for your own projects. Obviously, you’ll want to create columns that fit your needs. Instead of a column “main theme” you might have several “key takeaways” columns. Or a highly-personal column for how each article relates to your own work. For example, you might include only the author names and year of publication for an article rather than the full citation (in which case we’d highly recommend saving the full details in a reference management program!). Some people might want to copy the abstract the authors provide, while some will choose to write their own summaries. You can add “notes” columns or distinguish between paraphrases, comments, and direct quotations. Beyond that there are a lot of other small things you can do to make your spreadsheet work better for you, such as linking from a citation to the actual PDF, adding comments to cells, or adding drop-down lists to make data entry easier.
If you struggle with organizing your notes and memos, you could benefit from a reference management software like Citavi. Citavi lets you make notes within the program and easily connects your notes, memos, and quotes to your sources – helping you keep track of all your thoughts and research.
If you want to take your basic Excel spreadsheet up a notch, you can do so in several ways. For one, you can make use of multiple sheets in the same workbook. Dr. Kathleen Clarke describes her method which involves a major spreadsheet for tracking all the high-level information about a source along with minor spreadsheets which are more granular. She describes her method as a mix between Gregersen’s and Pacheco’s, but she also includes additional sheets on different but related topics and for studies she wants to read later on. One other notable addition is the use of a numbering system for her sources which corresponds to the article file names on her computer.
While there’s a lot of freedom in how you set up your Excel files, there are still some best practices you’ll likely want to follow. First, you should set up your table so that headers are marked as such. This way they won’t be sorted along with the other cells if you sort the column by A-Z, for example. Also, you’ll want to apply word wrap formatting to cells to keep content from spilling over into neighboring empty cells. This just keeps everything looking a lot tidier and makes it easier to skim through. Another handy option recommended by McQuilliam is to set up endless scrolling which keeps your column headers visible, even when you’re adding entries at the bottom of your list.
The columns you include are more or less up to you, but you’ll need a column for source information for sure to avoid inadvertent plagiarism or having to hunt down sources later on. In addition, a year column is invaluable for sorting your literature chronologically in preparation for writing your lit review. To keep track of how authors build upon and discuss each other’s work, a cross-references column can also be helpful. It’s important to make it very clear which analysis and thoughts are your own and which are those of your author.
If you’re planning on using filter features later on to search by study type, keyword, or some other criteria you’ll need to use controlled vocabulary, i.e. each concept should be referred to by a single term rather than using a bunch of different synonyms. You can define this at the start in a key on a separate sheet of your Excel workbook so that you can easily refer to it as needed. Each time you decide to add new terms, just add them to your key.
To save time, a streamlined option for organizing and categorizing your source information, notes, and quotes is Citavi, and we’ll look further into the benefits of using Citavi at the end of this post.
It’s hard to argue with the advantages of ease, simplicity, and flexibility that the Excel method gives you. But, there are still some big downsides to consider.
First, you have to set everything up yourself – it’s not already set up for you in a way that should fit most workflows. If you try something and later decide to take a different approach, you may need to go back and add in additional information for many sources you already examined.
Although search, filtering, and sorting options in Excel are much better than they would be in a Word table, the program is still a spreadsheet at heart which means that it’s “flatter” than a database. In other words, it’s less relational which makes it difficult to create complex search strings to get a subset of items that fit multiple criteria or that use more complicated search techniques such as Boolean logic or wildcards.
Another drawback is that the Excel approach involves a lot of manual entry. While some amount of manual work will always be necessary, for example, when you type up your comments or key takeaways, you won’t be able to directly extract information from PDFs (such as direct quotes or images) without using an additional PDF reader. Moreover, there are no time-saving automation options for adding source information that you might be accustomed to from your reference manager.
Speaking of reference managers, in many of the Twitter discussions around the Excel note-taking approach, there will always be a few comments asking why the person didn’t consider using their referencing software for their notes. Many proponents of the Excel approach stress that they do indeed use a reference management program to keep track of their source information but that they prefer to keep their notes and analysis in a separate Excel file. One of the reasons is that even though many reference management programs let you group references into folders and tag them with specific terms, they don’t let you easily keep track of and categorize notes on a particular source. You basically get a single notes field and that’s it. No way to categorize, group, or tag the note itself, just the source as a whole.
While this is true for many reference manager programs, there’s one that goes above and beyond its competitors – Citavi! While we’ve explored how it’s possible to create a literature review with Excel and Word, it is not the most efficient way available. With Citavi, you can easily keep track of, categorize, and connect your sources – all in one place.
Citavi is a reference management program that has been designed with extensive knowledge organization for any number of sources in mind and may, in many cases, be a better alternative to the Excel method.
Citavi lets you automatically add source information for most journal articles. Then, you can read PDFs and save notes and memos directly in the program. Annotating in Citavi is as simple as how you would on paper as you can highlight sections of text in colors that indicate whether it’s an important section, a section you might want to cite, or a passage that you’d like to analyze more closely. The only difference from annotating on paper is that these notes – which can be summaries, indirect quotations, direct quotations and comments – are always linked directly to their location in the PDF, so if you ever have to look up the context for one of your own comments or a direct quotation again, one click takes you directly to where you need to go and makes it easy to create your annotated bibliography.
Page numbers are saved automatically, as long as the PDF metadata includes that information. Otherwise, you just need to enter a page number for an article with the first “knowledge item” you save for it. Citavi will then add all the rest automatically.
Although the knowledge item types are pre-defined, the many options will fit most needs, and you can also always use either the keywords, categories, or the core statement field to designate the type of note you are adding if you want more customization. Any terms you use can later be searched or used as filters (more on that below). In addition, for the reference as a whole you also have pre-defined fields for keywords, groups, evaluations, abstracts, notes, and cross-references. This lets you classify at both the reference and note level, so, if you want, you can assign different categories or keywords for a source as a whole and for a statement you find in it. If you need additional source fields, there are nine custom fields which you can rename and format with drop-down options.
Where Citavi really shines against Excel is in its search features and integration with Word and NVivo 14. You can create and save complex searches that combine or exclude certain terms, keywords, categories, note type, year, etc. You can make use of advanced search syntax, such as boolean operators, wildcards, and regular expressions. You can rate sources and filter by rating. And, you have full-text search across all of your PDFs.
You can also view project statistics at a glance or use an add-on to do an analysis by author or another criteria. With Citavi and NVivo 14 integration, you can go beyond reference management by creating a springboard to collect references and thoughts, analyze literature, and connect empirical data with NVivo’s analysis tools – helping you dig deeper into your research and speed up your publishing time.
But the best part is that all of this information can be taken directly over to Word. You have all the analysis and quotes you’ve saved in a panel at the left and can just click to insert what you need. Citavi will insert the correct citation formatting and add an entry to your bibliography at the end. If you added your notes to an outline in Citavi, you can use the “Chapter” view to focus on what you need for a particular section. And, if you ever need to double-check the context for a direct quotation or your own paraphrase, you can click a link symbol to jump back to the exact spot in the PDF that you referred to.
If you do need to at some point export your reference information in table format for an appendix in your dissertation (for example, as documentation of the exclusion process for a systematic review), doing so just requires a few clicks. If you’ve previously worked with Excel and want to try out Citavi, importing is just as easy, and you can of course import all of your existing notes as knowledge items.
Last but certainly not least, if you use Citavi, you have the benefit of working with one tool instead of needing to juggle an Excel spreadsheet, a reference management program, and a PDF annotation tool or PDF reader.
We think it’s a no-brainer to use Citavi instead of Excel or Google Sheets to keep track of your reading for a literature review – but then again, we might be ever so slightly biased. What do you think?
Lumivero Support Center Now Live on the Lumivero Community Site
We’re excited to announce a powerful new customer support center for NVivo, Citavi, and Sonia located on the Lumivero Community site. Our modern support structure now features a user-friendly design, improved communication with the support team, and access to the knowledge base – all in one place!
With the new support center, you won’t have to depend solely on email for updates on your case tickets. Now you’ll be able to see the status of your cases, access the conversation history of all your tickets on one page, and easily reference past tickets as your full case history is saved to your profile.
Learn more about how you can create and follow your support ticket, receive alerts for your cases, enjoy improved communication with the support team, and access the Knowledge base for NVivo and Sonia (Citavi coming soon) below:
Keep all your support cases in one place in the support center! Here you’ll be able to review case statuses, access all open and closed cases, and “follow” your cases which lets you receive alerts when there’s been a progression in your case.
To create a new case, simply choose the product you wish from the drop-down list of case forms. Your account information will already be populated – making the new case submission process shorter.
Easily communicate with the support team by accessing all your messages directly in the support center – allowing for a two-way conversation that doesn’t get lost in your inbox. Further improve your communication with the ability to upload videos and screenshots to easily show the issue you’re experiencing all on the same case.
Dig into our extensive knowledge base to find answers to your questions and discover new ways to uncover insights from your data. Plus, easily access articles on product updates and service packs (coming soon).
Access our library of how-to videos, watch expert presentations, and discover more ways to learn how use NVivo, Citavi, and Sonia.
Plus, as part of the Lumivero Community site, you’ll have easy access to product resources, user discussion boards, and the upcoming events calendar that can help you dive deeper into your data.
Start improving your experience with NVivo, Citavi, and Sonia by checking out the new Lumivero Support Center in the main menu of the Lumivero Community and by accessing all the amazing insights provided by real user members of the community today.
Join for free today to get access to the Support Center, connect and engage with fellow users and experts, and learn and share insights that expand your network and enhance your user experience. From the login screen, simply click ‘not a member’ and sign up today.
Join the Lumivero Community (Button linked)
Develop your data analysis skills and connect with experts across industries at the free, Lumivero Virtual Conference! The conference spans two full days from Sept. 27-28, features eight industry-leading keynote speakers, and is designed for anyone who wants to dig up deeper insights from their data.
Learn how to take your qualitative and mixed methods research to the next level with more than 70 hours of presentations, research and product sessions, and real-time Q&As – all discussing proven methods for reporting, presenting, and organizing data and innovative ways to manage student field experience programs.
“The Lumivero Virtual Conference is an amazing opportunity for researchers to meet, learn, and network with experts and other Lumivero software users around the world,” said Stacy Penna, EdD, Lumivero Growth Marketing Director.
Attendees are encouraged to customize their learning experience by selecting one of seven conference tracks that will highlight solutions to the following topics:
Plus, all sessions will be recorded and made available to registrants for up to 30 days following the conference so you can control your learning experience.
Greg C. Ashley, PhD, Program Director of Ph.D. in Human Capital Management, Professor
Building Student Self-Efficacy and Appreciation for Data-Intensive Coursework
Kakali Bhattacharya, PhD, Professor in Research, Evaluation, and Measurements Program, University of Florida
Data Analysis is Relationship Analysis: De/colonizing Points of Consideration in Qualitative Research
Divya Bheda, PhD, Education Consultant, Divya Bheda Consulting Services: Capacity-Building for Change and Equity
An Equity Framework Offering: Strengthen Your Practice as a Leader, Educator, and Decision-Maker.
Dana Linnell, PhD, Assistant Professor, Psychology Department, Program Director, MS Applied Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Stout
Improving Your Survey Questions to Improve Your Results
Johnny Saldaña, Professor Emeritus, Arizona State University
Designing Conceptual Frameworks for Qualitative Research Studies
JD Solomon, PE, CRE, CMRP, Founder of JD Solomon, Inc.
How to Effectively Communicate @RISK and DecisionTools to Senior Management
Karsten Zegwaard, Director of Work-Integrated Learning Research, University of Waikato, New Zealand
Current Trends and Challenges for Quality Work-Integrated Learning in the Higher Education Curriculum
Sharon Zumbrunn, Ph.D., Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University
Embracing the Writing Feedback Process
Learn from our product trainers on how to get the most out of your Lumivero software: Citavi, @RISK, DecisionTools Suite, NVivo, Sonia, Tevera, and XLSTAT
How to Register
It’s easy! Simply complete the free, online registration form with either your Zoom account or email before Sept. 27 to access all the live sessions, plus content for up to 30 days after the virtual conference ends.
In a recent podcast episode, we had the privilege of delving into the complexities of the evaluation profession with Dr. Dana Lanell, an esteemed Assistant Professor of Psychology and Evaluation at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. The conversation was rich with insights into the often-misunderstood field of evaluation.
Starting out, Dr. Lanell shared her journey into the evaluation profession, highlighting how it intersects with varied areas like personnel and product evaluations. She further differentiated evaluation from other similar activities like applied research, outlining the unique role of values inquiry in the evaluation process.
“To me, when I think of evaluation, there is a few components to it. One of which is that it is a scientific enterprise – that you are doing systematic inquiry, that you are using social science research methods, that you are investigating something using that scientific inquiry,” said Dr. Lanell. “It’s this extra additional component of evaluation which I think helps with distinguishing evaluation from other things, and it’s the values component of evaluation."
Next, Dr. Lanell discussed exploring the intricate relationship between research and evaluation. One of Dr. Lanell’s past studies was about the five different perspectives on this relationship, from viewing evaluation as applied research to considering it as a larger trans-discipline.
The study asked members of the American Evaluation Association and American Educational Research Association ‘What is the definition of evaluation?” From there, Dr. Lanell coded the responses to locate the key components of the definitions.
The first thought process discussed was thinking of applied research and evaluation as one of the same. If it’s a Venn diagram, then it would be completely overlapping.
"You could also think of evaluation and applied research as having similar yet distinct components. So again, Venn diagram, but it's overlapping, but not completely,” said Dr. Lanell. “So there's unique components to both. But there's also key similarities between both as well.”
The third option was thinking of evaluation as a continuum, and the final two perspectives were thinking of evaluation as a sub-component of research.
A fascinating concept that surfaced was the hourglass figure, which shows how research and evaluation diverge at the beginning and end of a study while the methods and results in the middle often overlap. This exploration illuminated the unique output and stakeholders that differentiate research from evaluation.
In conclusion, Dr. Lanell emphasized the exploration of reporting evaluation findings and the importance of tailoring reports to the audience. We examined various reporting techniques from journal articles to infographics and videos, discussing their effectiveness in communicating findings.
“You have to think more critically about how you're writing things up. And so some of the things you're thinking about are overall organization, right?” said Dr. Lanell. “You're not going to spend half your paper talking about your intro and methods. You're going to get to the point. What do they care about? They care about the findings.”
Whether you're an evaluator, a researcher, or simply an interested listener, this episode is sure to provide you with a deeper understanding of the evaluation profession. So, get ready to have your perspective on evaluation revolutionized!
Listen to the full episode to learn more about Dr. Lanell's work and her insights into the evaluation profession, and register for the free, virtual Lumivero Conference (Sept. 27-28) to watch Dr. Lanell’s keynote presentation this fall.
The NVivo you know and love is better, faster, and more rigorous than ever. With new team collaboration capabilities, Citavi integration, and enhanced research tools, NVivo 14 is designed to help researchers deliver deeper data insights in real-time with your colleagues using NVivo Collaboration Cloud. Plus, see how simplified account management and the ability to share projects across operating systems, including Microsoft Windows and Mac OS, improves user experience across the board.
Get up to speed on all the new capabilities of NVivo 14 and NVivo Collaboration Cloud in our expert-led on-demand webinars or contact us for a free demo of NVivo 14.
Learn how to apply the six stages of Reflexive Thematic Analysis (Braun and Clarke, 2006, 2020) using NVivo 14 as your analysis tool. This on-demand webinar with Ben Meehan, PhD, and Stacy Penna, EdD, will show the practical application of one of the most popular data analysis methods used in qualitative data analysis globally. See the sample project that comes with all copies of NVivo enacted through each of the six stages as set out in the guidelines from the two seminal authors in this domain, plus learn about the many tools in NVivo that may be deployed during coding, retrieval, and reporting on your identified themes.
See how teams can collaborate simultaneously across Mac and Windows operating systems for real-time insights in this on-demand webinar with Stacy Penna, EdD. Learn how to use the enhanced Citavi integration to connect your literature review with your empirical data while using the analytical power of NVivo to write and publish faster.
Join Laura Lagendyk and Stacy Penna, EdD, as they discuss how to bring in quantitative data as attribute information, such as demographic data from interviews and survey data that contains both closed-and open-ended responses. This on-demand webinar will also include ways to query this data which you can then export and synthesize further analysis in statistical software.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine how visualizing your data using NVivo 14 could enrich your research experience, creating yet another perspective from which to view your data. In this on-demand webinar with Stuart P. Robertson, EdD, and Stacy Penna, EdD, participants will learn how to explore query, chart, and modeling capabilities to discover visuals created from queries, create models to visualize your study or explore project items, generate charts involving nodes, sources, or attributes, and utilize cluster analysis to explore word and coding similarities.
See how NVivo 14 with NVivo Collaboration Cloud can support your team to collaborate simultaneously and effectively together in the same research project. Noelle Wyman Roth and Stacy Penna, EdD, will share how to work together in the same NVivo project among team members, track decisions, as well as compare and view coding across team members for inter-rater reliability.
Find the freedom you need to focus on your analysis with NVivo Transcription. In this on-demand webinar with Stacy Penna, EdD, learn how NVivo Transcription can be your automated transcription assistant. Since NVivo Transcription integrates with NVivo 14 software, you can start analyzing your transcribed data faster. Register to learn best practices to make transcription go beyond just words.
In this on-demand webinar, Silvana di Gregorio, PhD, and Stacy Penna, EdD, will demonstrate how to use Citavi and NVivo together to easily import articles and other documents, organizing notes for easy retrieval, tagging or coding your materials to identify key concepts, and creating visuals to see connections in your literature themes.
Research and technical writers at every level across all disciplines and industries experience the unique challenges of academic and professional writing – finding the right voice, composing compelling arguments, and weaving in qualitative and quantitative data. Those considerations are on top of the constant struggle to organize immense amounts of data, identify common themes and trends, and format lengthy citations.
“[Finding your voice] is a complex issue and a very challenging one for PhD and early career academics as they struggle to get a balance between their own identity as an academic and the expectations of their audience,” said Deirdre McQuillan in Finding Your Voice in Academic Writing.
Simply accepting these obstacles as inevitable not only keeps you from achieving peak productivity, but it can also negatively affect your writing satisfaction.
“The interim findings of our survey questioning the writing “habits” of academics – now with 510 responses from over 40 countries – indicate that writing satisfaction is strongly linked to publishing productivity and, potentially, career success,” said Chris Smith from The London School of Economics and Political Science.
Avoid these pitfalls by sharpening your writing skills at the Research and Technical Writing Institute, presented by Lumivero’s Citavi, NVivo, XLSTAT, and Dissertation by Design. This free, virtual institute will enhance your skills and showcase how digital tools can assist with the writing and publishing process.
These sessions are free and open to everyone who wants to improve their research and technical writing, from students new to academia to experienced researchers. Learn more about the expert-led training and breakout session topics below and be sure to register!
Register for the Research and Technical Writing Institute
REGISTER FOR FREE
Tuesday, June 20, 2023
12:00 - 2:00 p.m. EDT
Developing Your Voice: How to Paraphrase, Make Claims, and Synthesize Literature
REGISTER FOR FREE
Join Dr. Jessica Parker as she discusses how to develop and enhance your voice as a researcher or technical writer. Dr. Parker will focus on three critical writing skills: paraphrasing, making claims, and synthesizing literature. She will outline five steps to effective paraphrasing and demonstrate how to develop strong claims supported by evidence. Dr. Parker will also show how synthesis enhances your voice. This highly instructive webinar will help you develop your voice and confidence as a research or technical writer.
This free presentation will cover:
Wednesday, June 21, 2023
12:00 - 2:00 p.m. EDT
Writing a Compelling Argument
REGISTER FOR FREE
Join Dr. Jessica Parker as she discusses writing considerations when developing arguments communicating the need for your research. Dr. Parker will explain the components of an argument and will model how to support claims with evidence. She will also discuss addressing counter arguments and objections to ensure your argument is perceived as credible. This highly instructive webinar will help you improve your argumentative writing skills using three styles of argumentation.
This free demonstration will cover:
A demonstration of how NVivo and Citavi can assist in developing and supporting arguments with sources.
Thursday, June 22, 2023
12:00 - 2:00 p.m. EDT
Reporting Qualitative Findings: Writing Considerations
REGISTER FOR FREE
Join Dr. Veronica Richard as she discusses writing considerations when writing the findings section of a research paper after analyzing literature review and qualitative data. In this presentation, you will learn how to use the thematic structure in NVivo to transition to writing. Dr. Richard will help you understand the importance of presenting findings in a logical order, how to identify and introduce relevant quotes and excerpts and how to present profiles. This highly instructive presentation will help you plan for writing early in the literature and data analysis process so you can stay organized and clearly convey your findings.
In this free presentation, you will learn how to:
Friday, June 23, 2023,
12:00 - 2:00 p.m. EDT
Reporting Statistical Results: Research Writing Considerations
REGISTER FOR FREE
Join Kirstie Eastwood as she discusses research writing considerations when reporting statistical results. In this presentation, you will learn how to use XLSTAT data reports to report participant demographics and develop the writing structure of your results section. Eastwood will help you understand the importance of presenting results in a logical order and demonstrate how to identify and introduce relevant charts and tables and present data in a meaningful way to answer your research questions. This highly instructive webinar will help you plan for writing early in the data analysis process so you can stay organized and clearly convey your findings.
In this free presentation, you will learn how to:
On the most recent episode of NVivo’s Behind the Data Podcast, Dr. Stacy Penna spoke with Dr. Kim Wiley, Assistant Professor of Nonprofit Leadership and Community Engagement at the University of Florida. When the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled her field research plans in 2020, Dr. Wiley found a new research opportunity in an unexpected place. As she told Dr. Penna, “Something that happened to a lot of us during the pandemic was that we got hooked on TikTok.”
If you’re not familiar with TikTok, it’s a social media application where creators produce short videos, or “microvlogs.” Think of it as a counterpart to Twitter, where users produce short snippets of text, or “microblogs.” Since its worldwide launch in 2018, TikTok has become one of the world’s major social media networks. According to the BBC, TikTok’s downloads doubled from one billion to two billion between July 2019 and July 2020.
Wiley’s interest in TikTok was piqued when she realized that the content nonprofit organizations posted there seemed different from what they published elsewhere. One example she gave was of an organization that trained service dogs. “When the new puppies would come in,” she explained, “they would post [a video]. They’d have some playful music, or trending music,” but no text, captions, or requests for donations. These calls for action were typical of content on other social platforms, but not TikTok. She set out to understand the reason why.
Wiley and her collaborators assembled a team of faculty members, graduate students, and undergraduate students to investigate how nonprofits engage with their stakeholders through microvlogging on TikTok. According to her website, she and her team evaluated 1,160 TikTok posts from 58 different nonprofit organizations using qualitative and quantitative research methods. She analyzed posts based on a theoretic framework developed by previous research into nonprofit social media outreach. This framework indicated that nonprofit messaging broke down into three main content categories:
Sharing information about the mission of the nonprofit
Encouraging action (donating, volunteering, or participating in advocacy activities)
Building community through shared interests
First, members of the team reviewed each individual post qualitatively. Using NVivo software, each post was assigned codes based on its content category, the specific stakeholders it was meant for (for example, general audiences, funders, volunteers, and service users), and the types of features the video might have used, such as trending music, text and captions, or split-screen responses to other videos, known on TikTok as “duets”.
Next, Wiley’s collaborator scraped engagement metadata from the posts the team had evaluated to conduct a quantitative analysis. Using Python and R, the team was then able to determine which categories of posts received the most engagement by using NVivo’s built-in matrix codes and content analysis tools.
Finally, Wiley was curious about whether her team’s interpretations of what each organization was doing in a TikTok post actually aligned with the organization’s intentions. Her team conducted interviews with 30 social media coordinators from organizations that participated in the study to gain further qualitative insights into the aims of each organization. The team then analyzed transcripts of these interviews with NVivo.
Qualitative data analysis of the 1,160 posts reviewed by Wiley’s team revealed that most TikTok posts by nonprofits fell into the category of community outreach. Quantitative analysis of the engagement statistics showed that these posts also generated the most activity from users, and that informational or call-to-action content, especially if it had been cross-posted from another platform like Instagram, did not perform as well.
In the interviews with nonprofit social media coordinators, Wiley and her team heard a clear, consistent message about what organizations hoped to achieve with their microvlogging and microblogging activity on TikTok: building connections with Generation Z. She summarized the social media coordinators’ rationale as follows: “We’re not going to talk to [Gen Z] the same way we talk to, say, an older donor ... we’re just connecting with them now [to] get them familiar with our mission, and then later maybe they can volunteer or donate.”
The pandemic presented logistical challenges to Wiley’s research, but she was able to use NVivo’s cloud-based tools and other technology to keep her team connected and productive. Once a week, Wiley would gather the entire team on Zoom where they would code together for two hours. This provided a space for researchers to ask questions about specific posts they were struggling to categorize or ask others for help with the software.
“Being in the room together, whether it’s a Zoom room or a physical room, makes [collaboration] so much easier,” Wiley says. “You don’t have to wait for someone to respond to an email on how to code something ... you can share it right there in the room.” Plus, she adds, “the energy is great, even if you’re on Zoom.”
Dr. Wiley’s current project is looking into how influencers, government agencies, and nonprofits use social media to disseminate public health information. She’s once again assembled a team to help her code and analyze posts — but this time, they’ll be having their weekly meetings in person.
To learn more about this research, listen to the full podcast episode now. It’s also available on all major podcast services, including Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Spotify, and Stitcher. You can also learn more about Dr. Wiley’s work at www.drkimberlywiley.com.
Working in a research team can be a rewarding experience, but it can also be challenging. Here are ten tips for research teams to work better together:
In addition to these tips for research teams, take your team’s experience to the next level with Lumivero’s NVivo’s Collaboration Cloud where you can securely share and store data, insights, and expertise and connect to the same project to update, code, and analyze research in real-time. Contact us to learn more!
Work placements can be one of the most rewarding experiences – and most daunting – in a student’s life to date. It is likely to be a little of both as bringing new people and insights into a student’s world will stretch them intellectually and emotionally.
To set a student up for success, it is the placement officer’s duty to minimize uncertainty by ensuring that the work placement experience is safe, will deliver the expected educational value, and will broaden the student’s horizons in a nurturing and enriching way.
That confidence must be delivered anew with every placement, carefully balancing the needs and preferences of the student with the requirements of the placement site and academic institution.
To achieve this, every placement officer will have their own methodologies and tricks of the trade, but thorough planning is undoubtedly the foundation of a smooth placement for all parties involved.
To assist with this enormous task, we reached out to experienced placement officers for their insights and best practices. With their assistance, we created the Placement Site Suitability Checklist (link) – a brief but truly comprehensive list of considerations to help make every placement a success. The checklist includes notes on:
Whether you’re a new placement officer or a long-time expert, our free placement site suitability checklist has something for everyone and can help take your placement site evaluation to the next level.