literature review software

literature review software

The Benefits of Literature Review Software

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1. Introduction

This was done until an innovative software tool was developed known as the literature review software. This tool is a part of systematic literature review and involves the use of methods to find, critically appraise, and synthesize data from previous research in an explicit, rigorous, and transparent manner. This literature review software is configured using a survey, questions, or objectives to allow the review to be in a specific topic or area by creating modules representing these topics. Data is entered into a module, and then the analysis is done to show a direct comparison with the module and the objective/questions. This helps assess the importance of the module and its relative importance with other modules. This tool enables the analysis to be informative and debated about the question compared to a narrative review. The data is constantly revisited, and if there is new information, the analysis can change, allowing a traceable and auditable method for this activity.

Traditionally, literature reviews have been done in the form of providing a summary in various documents. These documents tend to be books, research reports, published or unpublished dissertations, theses, or conference papers. These documents need to be read one by one, which can become tedious and time-consuming. With advances in technology today, researchers prefer to read or provide a summary of these documents in the form of electronic documents. This way, it is easier and indexing information becomes possible. This methodology is a bit less time-consuming compared to reading through every document, but the review still remains a summary of these papers and does not allow for a direct relative analysis with the review aims and between different sources.

Literature review is considered a vital aspect of every research study. This is because the research study is initiated with the help of previous research study. Researchers need to start with a thoughtful and thorough review of the existing literature in addition to gaining insight and a deeper understanding of a topic of interest. The aspect of writing a literature review can be defined as a critical summary or discussion of the detailed information discussed in the review. This is done by providing in-depth information for readers to judge and understand the data well.

2. Advantages of Literature Review Software

Literature review software that supports the process has several advantages over standard database and spreadsheet software. These types of software often have added functions to allow researchers to search for literature online and import the references and associated documents. This can save a lot of time during the initial article identification stage. Step one of the research process is identifying what you want to research. One of the most efficient ways for a student to do this is to input a topic of interest into a scholarly search engine. Many term review software have URL (Uniform Resource Locator) auto-capture feature. This feature automatically captures the URL of the article and stores it in a location for easy retrieval at a later date. Considering the average time it takes to input a topic into a search engine, this feature can save a lot of time and is a good method to avoid losing potential articles. Multiple language support is also a useful function for a student if they are not completely fluent in English. The better term-based software usually supports multiple languages, which can simplify the article identification process. A possible time saver for academics with access to a considerable amount of recent literature is the ability to set date boundaries to online searches. This is a feature available with many of the more recent software packages.

There are many different types of software available to support the process of conducting a literature review. They are distinct from standard software used to create or store data. Term-based literature review software package, on the other hand, is deliberately designed to assist and support the conduct of a literature review.

It is clear from the previous sections that manual literature review process is time-consuming, costly, and complex. To counter this, a wide array of software has been developed to assist in the management stage of a literature review. Literature review software has several distinct advantages when compared with organizing your literature review manually.

3. Key Features to Look for in Literature Review Software

As there are a range of tasks involved in working with literature such as searching, organising and eventually writing, a key feature for the software package would be that it is capable of supporting each of these tasks – enables completion of the task as opposed to creating another task in itself. For example, Zotero was described as a ‘one stop shop’ which effectively organises and manages citations and files in one place. Both RefWorks and Endnote allow the user to export references from the web and the majority of electronic databases using tools that automatically capture citation data and then store it in the user’s personal database. Each software package has its own method of capturing this data (some more reliable than others) and it was found that sometimes, to get the data into the correct format the user can spend hours sifting through the web and databases as opposed to making a direct export. RefWorks was described as the ‘easiest’ for importing references and had minimal requirement for re-editing data, as all the users need do is locate the online resource and click ‘import to RefWorks’. The importing features of these software packages can be a real time saver if done effectively.

Literature review software offers a range of potential benefits, from the facilitating of individual tasks in some of the examples given above, to supporting entire projects, programmes and/or a research culture within an academic or research unit. Recognising the importance and potential use of such software, a recent small-scale study by the LTAU team at Oxford Brookes University sought to investigate how user-friendly such software is and which one would be most appropriate for use within our institution. ‘Endnote’, ‘RefWorks’ and ‘Zotero’ were the software packages considered, each using different software models: desktop version, web-based version and open source software. Step one was to consider and compare the key features of the software available.

Given the impending budget tightening within UK higher education, there is an ever pressing need by educational developers (EDs) and the staff they support to draw upon relevant and current literature to inform their practice. Whether it is for tracking down journal articles, manoeuvring around electronic databases, storing and retrieving key papers or collaborating within a research group, a growing number of EDs and academic staff are realising the benefits of using bibliographic management software to achieve each of these tasks. As time becomes more precious and multi-tasking a necessity, the days of noting a useful article on a scrap of paper and then forgetting where it was put are becoming a thing of the past.

4. Case Studies: Successful Implementation of Literature Review Software

This initiative has without doubt been successful for CR-UK as the time saved in literature searching can now be used to make further discoveries and it has generated a more streamlined approach to keeping informed of current literature. In this case, utilizing literature review software was proven to be effective and it is something other research organizations can learn from.

These findings provided a valid argument to make a system change in literature reviewing, something which was currently done on paper and relied too heavily on an individual’s memory to communicate with colleagues about new literature. As a result, a project was established to seek and evaluate software with the goal to improve access to literature, provide current awareness and link references to full-text articles. This would need to be done using a tool that was both easy-to-use and suitable for researchers with varying levels of IT literacy. After extensive evaluation and testing of different literature review software, a systematic literature tagging system was implemented using a product called ‘Refman’ which is now owned by Thomson Reuters. This has successfully made literature analysis more efficient and has also helped to prioritize literature for researchers in the more advanced areas of cancer genetics. The tagging system has room for future expansion and with consistent feedback from users, it is continually tailored to current needs.

One very noteworthy example is the organization of Cancer Research UK (CR-UK) which has 4803 employees working in 10 different research institutes. Researchers are working in a fast-paced environment where they need to communicate effectively and progress through large amounts of data. It is crucial for researchers at CR-UK to be aware of all the latest discoveries thus a substantial amount of time is spent searching for literature. A 2005 survey concluded that a typical scientist spends at least one day a week mapping new literature onto current research to avoid overlap, this is quite impractical when considering the noted volume of data and the importance of effective communication.

Many organizations are beginning to understand the role literature review software can play in their ability to save time and money. Case studies provide detailed descriptions of how different organizations utilize this beneficial software in order to prove its importance. By examining their various strategies, one can accurately assess the effectiveness of such software and whether or not it will benefit their own cause.

5. Conclusion: Embracing the Power of Literature Review Software

The technology within the computerized literature review is also reviewed, with questions regarding the value, future and learning of the computerized review in mind. The limitation of this study lies in the convenience sample with a lack of randomizing specified from the Direct Nursing Education department attending the Research Tuesday sessions and using the computerized literature review software. With such a sample, it is difficult to generalize the findings. Therefore, a suggestion would be to conduct further testing in other classes or even at the textbook level to test the software’s functionality. With this information, it is hoped that precautions can be taken to rectify the software’s shortcomings which limits its ability to guide student through the literature review process. Further studies can also be implemented to compare the effectiveness of the review process at different points within the research development to ensure productivity in guiding the user or student. Despite the limitations, existing users and future researchers are encouraged to capitalize on the power and efficiency of the literature review software for the findings in this study have confirmed its potential value.

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