Accelerate your research with the best systematic literature review tools

The ideal literature review tool helps you make sense of the most important insights in your research field. ATLAS.ti empowers researchers to perform powerful and collaborative analysis using the leading software for literature review.


Finalize your literature review faster with comfort

ATLAS.ti makes it easy to manage, organize, and analyze articles, PDFs, excerpts, and more for your projects. Conduct a deep systematic literature review and get the insights you need with a comprehensive toolset built specifically for your research projects.


Figure out the "why" behind your participant's motivations

Understand the behaviors and emotions that are driving your focus group participants. With ATLAS.ti, you can transform your raw data and turn it into qualitative insights you can learn from. Easily determine user intent in the same spot you're deciphering your overall focus group data.


Visualize your research findings like never before

We make it simple to present your analysis results with meaningful charts, networks, and diagrams. Instead of figuring out how to communicate the insights you just unlocked, we enable you to leverage easy-to-use visualizations that support your goals.

Extremely interesting software which is useful for facilitating and expediting qualitative research. In addition to all of the features ATLAS.ti offers, it has been a pleasant surprise to discover that I can also use it as a database for my literature reviews.
Patricia Rocu Gómez
Faculty of Education, Complutense University of Madrid, Spain

Everything you need to elevate your literature review


Import and organize literature data

Import and analyze any type of text content – ATLAS.ti supports all standard text and transcription files such as Word and PDF.


Analyze with ease and speed

Utilize easy-to-learn workflows that save valuable time, such as auto coding, sentiment analysis, team collaboration, and more.


Leverage AI-driven tools

Make efficiency a priority and let ATLAS.ti do your work with AI-powered research tools and features for faster results.


Visualize and present findings

With just a few clicks, you can create meaningful visualizations like charts, word clouds, tables, networks, among others for your literature data.

The faster way to make sense of your literature review. Try it for free, today.

What is a literature review?

A literature review analyzes the most current research within a research area. A literature review consists of published studies from many sources:

  • Peer-reviewed academic publications
  • Full-length books
  • University bulletins
  • Conference proceedings
  • Dissertations and theses

Literature reviews allow researchers to:

  • Summarize the state of the research
  • Identify unexplored research inquiries
  • Recommend practical applications
  • Critique currently published research
What is a literature review in a research paper?

Literature reviews are either standalone publications or part of a paper as background for an original research project. A literature review, as a section of a more extensive research article, summarizes the current state of the research to justify the primary research described in the paper.

For example, a researcher may have reviewed the literature on a new supplement's health benefits and concluded that more research needs to be conducted on those with a particular condition. This research gap warrants a study examining how this understudied population reacted to the supplement. Researchers need to establish this research gap through a literature review to persuade journal editors and reviewers of the value of their research.

What should a researcher do in a literature review?

Consider a literature review as a typical research publication presenting a study, its results, and the salient points scholars can infer from the study. The only significant difference with a literature review treats existing literature as the research data to collect and analyze. From that analysis, a literature review can suggest new inquiries to pursue.

Identify a focus

Similar to a typical study, a literature review should have a research question or questions that analysis can answer. This sort of inquiry typically targets a particular phenomenon, population, or even research method to examine how different studies have looked at the same thing differently. A literature review, then, should center the literature collection around that focus.

Collect and analyze the literature

With a focus in mind, a researcher can collect studies that provide relevant information for that focus. They can then analyze the collected studies by finding and identifying patterns or themes that occur frequently. This analysis allows the researcher to point out what the field has frequently explored or, on the other hand, overlooked.

Suggest implications

The literature review allows the researcher to argue a particular point through the evidence provided by the analysis. For example, suppose the analysis makes it apparent that the published research on people's sleep patterns has not adequately explored the connection between sleep and a particular factor (e.g., television-watching habits, indoor air quality). In that case, the researcher can argue that further study can address this research gap.

How long is a literature review?

External requirements aside (e.g., many academic journals have a word limit of 6,000-8,000 words), a literature review as a standalone publication is as long as necessary to allow readers to understand the current state of the field. Even if it is just a section in a larger paper, a literature review is long enough to allow the researcher to justify the study that is the paper's focus.

Note that a literature review needs only to incorporate a representative number of studies relevant to the research inquiry. For term papers in university courses, 10 to 20 references might be appropriate for demonstrating analytical skills. Published literature reviews in peer-reviewed journals might have 40 to 50 references. One of the essential goals of a literature review is to persuade readers that you have analyzed a representative segment of the research you are reviewing.

How can I collect literature for my review?

Researchers can find published research from various online sources:

  • Journal websites
  • Research databases
  • Search engines (Google Scholar, Semantic Scholar)
  • Research repositories
  • Social networking sites (Academia, ResearchGate)

Many journals make articles freely available under the term "open access," meaning that there are no restrictions to viewing and downloading such articles. Otherwise, collecting research articles from restricted journals usually requires access from an institution such as a university or a library.

What are some criteria for conducting a comprehensive literature review?

Evidence of a rigorous literature review is more important than the word count or the number of articles that undergo data analysis. Especially when writing for a peer-reviewed journal, it is essential to consider how to demonstrate research rigor in your literature review to persuade reviewers of its scholarly value.

Select field-specific journals

The most significant research relevant to your field focuses on a narrow set of journals similar in aims and scope. Consider who the most prominent scholars in your field are and determine which journals publish their research or have them as editors or reviewers. Journals tend to look favorably on systematic reviews that include articles they have published.

Incorporate recent research

Recently published studies have greater value in determining the gaps in the current state of research. Older research is likely to have encountered challenges and critiques that may render their findings outdated or refuted. What counts as recent differs by field; start by looking for research published within the last three years and gradually expand to older research when you need to collect more articles for your review.

Consider the quality of the research

Literature reviews are only as strong as the quality of the studies that the researcher collects. You can judge any particular study by many factors, including:

  • the quality of the article's journal
  • the article's research rigor
  • the timeliness of the research

The critical point here is that you should consider more than just a study's findings or research outputs when including research in your literature review.

Narrow your research focus

Ideally, the articles you collect for your literature review have something in common, such as a research method or research context. For example, if you are conducting a literature review about teaching practices in high school contexts, it is best to narrow your literature search to studies focusing on high school. You should consider expanding your search to junior high school and university contexts only when there are not enough studies that match your focus.

How can I use ATLAS.ti to organize papers for a literature review?

You can create a project in ATLAS.ti for keeping track of your collected literature. ATLAS.ti allows you to view and analyze full text articles and PDF files in a single project. Within projects, you can use document groups to separate studies into different categories for easier and faster analysis.

For example, a researcher with a literature review that examines studies across different countries can create document groups labeled "United Kingdom," "Germany," and "United States," among others. A researcher can also use ATLAS.ti's global filters to narrow analysis to a particular set of studies and gain insights about a smaller set of literature.

What tools can I use to analyze a literature review?

ATLAS.ti allows you to search, code, and analyze text documents and PDF files. You can treat a set of research articles like other forms of qualitative data. The codes you apply to your literature collection allow for analysis through many powerful tools in ATLAS.ti:

  • Code Co-Occurrence Explorer
  • Code Co-Occurrence Table
  • Code-Document Table
  • Query Tool

Other tools in ATLAS.ti employ machine learning to facilitate parts of the coding process for you. Some of our software tools that are effective for analyzing literature include:

  • Named Entity Recognition
  • Opinion Mining
  • Sentiment Analysis

As long as your documents are text documents or text-enable PDF files, ATLAS.ti's automated tools can provide essential assistance in the data analysis process.