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Psy-835_Social Determinants of Mental Health: Organization

1 - Terms and databases document and RefWorks

Keep a document as you search for resources. 

  • Record all keywords & subject headings to a word doc – note which databases you used‚Äč
  • If any terms aren't useful, cross them out. Don't deleting them.

Save all your citations in RefWorks. 

  • Create folders not only by facets & subtopics, but also for process:
    • "Have read"
    • "Need to read"
    • "Waiting from ILLiad"
    • "Have in Full Text"
    • "Just in case" (for those which probably aren't worth saving, but better to have & not need than try to find in a few weeks/months)
  • RefWorks can create a bibliography in APA 7th 

2 - Strategic note taking

Taking notes for a literature review is different from taking notes for class.

NOTE: You don't need to record the author's main points. You need to record what about each resource matters to your topic

  1. Skim several resources before you take notes on any of them. This gives you an idea of what some themes across sources might be. Remember, you can skim by just reading a few key sections of a scientific article
  2. Go back & read the resources, writing quick notes in the margins or in a separate document
  3. Create a separate ANTIC (Article Note-Taking Index Card) for each resource 

ANTICs do not have to be on actual index cards. I type mine. Here's an example from my research. 

NOTE: I came up with the themes based on skimming multiple articles. These are not the main themes of the particular article. The middle column is meant so you do not have to go back to the original article and hunt for concepts & quotes. Be sparing in your use of quotes when you write your paper, but feel free to grab quotes now if you want. The third column is so that you do not go down a rabbit hole. Stick with this step of reading each article before moving to the next steps. Write down that you found a new source in the bibliography, or a new term, but don't go find more articles yet. Finish reading the ones you already found first!

Example of ANTIC model table


Efron, S.E. and Ravid, R. (2019). Writing the literature review: A practical guide. New York: Guilford Press. 


3 - Matrix model

Why create it?

  • Visualize your resources at a glance
  • Create order out of chaos

What is it?

  • Based on: Garrard, J. (2017). Health sciences literature review made easy: The matrix method. Burlington: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
  • Use the themes you created in the first column of the ANTIC model (see step 2 on the right)
  • The themes become columns in a spreadsheet
  • Each resource is a row in the spreadsheet
  • See an example from my research, below:

How create it:

  • I recommend using Excel so you can sort by column to make it easier to write your literature review
  • Many columns can have just a check box or simple yes/no to make sorting easier. Remember, most of the notes are already in your ANTICs, so you don't have to re-write all that here

Example of Garrard's Matrix