Managing search results

There are different tools available to help you organize your search results, not least during the search process but also afterwards when working with the material retrieved.

Reference management software

By using reference management software like EndNote or Zotero you can collect and organize your search results, remove duplicates, and share publication lists in a group facilitating joint assessment.

Find out more or book an appointment for an introduction on the web library pages for reference management.


Another way of organizing and managing search results is to export them to Excel. This is a good option if you have many references and need a way of quantifying, filtering, and sorting them. Excel is also a suitable tool for handling citation data.

Screening software

Software can be used to facilitate screening, the manual work of selecting which publications in your search result that will actually be included in the review. Members of a research group may independently and simultaneously review the search result according to the criteria set up for inclusion and exclusion of materials. 

Most of these tools require an individual license:

Visualization software

Software for coding and categorizing articles can be used for qualitative data analysis. An example of such software is NVivo.

Digital methods and tools allow you to visualize the most frequently co-occurring terms in your search results. They can visualize patterns of co-authorship and citations in case you want to explore an area of research or identify the research front in this area. Visualization may provide an overview of search results and make it possible to identify potential themes and patterns in the material.

Importantly, such visualizations are never a strictly objective representation of a research area and researchers always interpret these visualizations in one way or another. Visualizations thus depend on the researcher’s pre-understanding and frame of interpretation. The computer-assisted analysis may be understood as a product of the encounter between man and machine. Also, it is important to document the methods of visual analysis and the features applied to make the analysis as transparent as possible.

Some examples of visualization software are VOSviewer and Voyant. These are available online. The former requires Java being installed on your computer. Search results may be exported from databases as a RIS-file and uploaded for analysis of co-occurring terms or co-authorship. Voyant offers a variety of methods for analyzing and visualizing large amounts of text.

Search support for researchers

LiU researchers and PhD students can consult a librarian, for example when doing a literature review for a dissertation or a systematic review. Together we will look at your specific research questions and discuss topics such as:

  • selecting databases and search tools
  • selecting keywords
  • constructing search strings
  • documenting searches
  • managing search results

Make an appointment by completing this form:

Search support for researchers