Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Literature Review: To ti or not to ti?

I'm torn.

I have to admit to LOVING having scanned everything I am reading for lit. review / dissertation. Using Acrobat, I can highlight, add notes, have searchable text, and my scribblings can be immortalized in my PDF and tucked away nicely in Mendeley, searchable and all!


I can't really synthesize anything beyond that, which I find VERY annoying. There is no way I am going to keep links I saw, gaps I realized, etc. straight in my dysfunctional brain.

I am going to credit J.L. for giving me the novel-to-me thought of the potential of using Atlas.ti for facilitating the lit. review process. I don't remember whether she was explicit about it or whether I just noticed it as she was taking us through her data, but it led me to feed "literature review in atlas.ti" into the gaping jaws of the Google, which then gave me this article straight from Atlas.ti, as well as this PDF on using NVIVO for the lit. review. I agree with the premise that the act of formulating arguments and research questions from a body of literature mirrors the qualitative data analysis process. You read, reflect, and  interact with the literature, identify themes, compare and contrast ideas and strands from different works, and construct arguments with links to supporting evidence in the literature. What's not to love?

Thinking that I had just made my life infinitely easier, I plugged a PDF into Atlas.ti. I was excited when I saw my highlights made in Acrobat show up on the PDF in Atlas.ti...then less excited when I noticed that my embedded notes did not make the cut on the import. Then, I got to thinking about all of this wonderful mental light that would play colorfully upon these documents, and how I was going to save it in something like Mendeley...Holy qualitative quandry, how AM I going to export ANY of this into something durable?

Now what do I do?
What would you do?
What do you think?