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Organizing Your Research: A Guide  

How to use research logs, databases, citation managers, and rss feeds to keep track of your searches and findings.
Last Updated: Apr 29, 2014 URL: http://uiuc.libguides.com/content.php?pid=472226 Print Guide RSS Updates

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Savvy Researcher Literature Review Workshop

Would you like more tips for performing literature reviews especially using the UIUC libraries? Check out the 'Literature Review Demystified' LibGuide and workshop.

  • Literature Review Demystified LibGuide
    This workshop and guide provides an overview of the literature review and its place in a research project, thesis, or dissertation, and demonstrate some strategies and resources for finding the information you need using the U of I Library.
  • Savvy Researcher Workshop Calendar
    Find when the "Literature Review Demystified" workshop is offered.

Tracking Sources

Research is a process. Long-term access to your process documentation can be beneficial after the project is complete.

This guide will demonstrate how you can use databases, research logs, citation management programs, and rss feeds in the research process. The purpose of this guide is to give researchers options and suggestions of what to keep track of when searching with the goal of saving time and effort by documenting the path so retracing steps is easy when there is a need to find new information or go back to an item and  keep track of searches so you don't waste time repeating them until you have to.

Bibliographic/citation and search information are important in keeping track of what you have found, what you may want to find, and being able to find items again. Be sure to record this information during each research session.

Research Process-Search for Books and Articles (keep track of searches and findings in databases and research logs) found articles books and articles (keep track in research logs and citation managers) Keep up on new publications (RSS feeds, email alerts, rerunning saved/research log searches)

These tools can work in different directions

1. From citation to search-Documenting how/where a citation was found in order to find others like it and/or to find it again. This documentation can be done with research log, citation managers or database email/export (note where was it found, what terms were used to find it, or was it mentioned in a bibliography).

2. From search to citations/findings-To document the path, how many results were found, and if useful things were found in order to be able to create the search again.

Research Logs

Think of the research log as a way to document your research process. The path you took to get to a source.

Instead of having to manage multiple databases and multiple passwords, research log can keep track of searches in one place illustrating research process. Citation manager not showing research process


You can use the databases to keep track of search history with the ability to rerun the searches, create periodic alerts when new articles meet your search criteria, export citations, and manage findings.

Each database may use its own vocabulary/subject terms therefore it may be helpful to use these logs to keep track of the vocabulary used.

From the databases you can export citations and add information about the path to the item (source, search terms, filters) and notes on why the article or book could be useful. You could add similar information to the emails from the database.

Citation Managers

You can organize your findings in citation managers, with features such as to attach pdf files to the citation, generate bibliographies from the citations you input and add information about the path to the item (source, search terms, filters) and notes on why the article or book could be useful. You can export citations from the databases featured here to citation managers or manually input the information.

RSS Feeds

Use RSS feeds to keep aware of new publications in your field and that match your search criteria. You can use the databases featured here to create feeds related to your searches.

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