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Surviving Literature

How to Deal with Finding and Using Literature

Forever scrolling through literature!

Literature is the demise of any student's degree. It is the foundation of any piece of writing and is the basis for all progressive work and research. In this blog post I am going to explain how I have dealt with the thousands of pieces of literature that I could potentially use—which ones to pick and how to put them into writing. 

First of all, in order to have any kind of structure to the piece of writing, you need to make a list of all the different topics you need to cover and the key words you want to search in order to find appropriate literature. 

I tend to use Scopus, Science Direct or Web of science as my go to for cited literature. I will do a simple google search first to see if any pieces of literature are popular enough. If not I pick one of the literature databases and search the keywords with the amount of citations and most applicable titles as the articles I will read the abstracts of. 

Once I have found an article, I download the PDF into a specific file and label them 1, 2, 3...etc. (Beforehand I limit myself a certain number of references based on the origin and the length of the assignment). 

Using word, I then number the citations e.g. 1. (Jones, 2010) in a list and write a number of subheadings that I would be talking about in the report e.g. Biodiversity, Climate etc. I then follow up with writing notes and conclusions from each of the references. 

The subheadings I then highlight in different colours and based on the notes, I highlight the same colour. This then allows me to start up a new word document with each subheading and the numbered citations that include such topics. 

When I come to write my official assignment, I use the information on the newest word document and when I want to cite a piece of literature I just number it in brackets such as (7) in order to keep my continuous prose and thought process uninterrupted. 

Once I have finished my paragraph or writing about a subheading, I go back and input each citation based on the number allocated to it and highlight it in blue as to keep track of the citations. 

Following at the end of the assignment with the bibliography in alphabetical order of surname.  

I am currently in my final year of university in the United Kingdom and it has taken my entire undergraduate degree to come up with a working process for how to cite and use literature. 

What works for me, will most definitely not work for EVERYONE else, but perhaps my experience and what I find methodologically logical could help even in part to your assignments and reports. 

Everyone works in different ways and I find that colour coding and knowing I can use a specific amount of information completely dedicated to the topic I am currently writing about helps me with continuous prose. 

The steps are simple when reduced to the basics:

  1. List key words.
  2. Search keywords in a favoured citation database.
  3. Download PDF's in a folder and number: 1, 2, 3...etc.
  4. List citations  in a word document: 1. (Jones, 2010), 2. (Evans, 1998) etc.
  5. Write conclusions under each number based on the articles.
  6. List subheadings for the assignment and highlight each.
  7. Highlight the notes based on the subheading they come under.
  8. New word document, under each subheading then list numbers with specific subjects.
  9. When writing the assignment number each citation: (9) in prose.
  10. After each paragraph or subheading, return to insert citations.
  11. Highlight citations in blue.
  12. Add Bibliography at the end in alphabetical order from surname.

I hope that this helps in any way.

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