More on Scrivener and Literature Review

As I’m back into my literature review – I was so relieved that I had posted how to use Scrivener for a Literature Review (original post here) because I was again tempted to go and try it out in Nvivo (so tempting the thought of creating nodes around themes in literature) but then I remembered I’d committed to Scrivener and changing mid-course was just creating problems for myself.

So – back into using Scrivener and Endnote for Lit Review – some tweaks and annoyances I’ve found

1. Endnote X6 now puts each attached PDF into its own obscurely numbered folder – this makes it harder to link to your external PDF for annotating (vs. earlier version of Endnote when the folder containing the PDF was named Author_Year). I’ve noticed a couple of posts about this on the Thomson Reuters website- lets hope they get it sorted.

2. Using the Quick Ref pane in Scrivener for taking notes (e.g from google books or other online sources).  This is little ‘pop-up’ pane that sits separately from your main Scrivener window- easy to move, re-scale and combine with another window


3.  I’ve created a new folder in Scrivener called “Themes in Literature” – I’m at the point where I am trying to do more synthesis and analysis of what I’m reading. I find this most useful to do actively (i.e. whilst I’m reading & note-taking one article if it reminds me of another article, or a theme then I act on combining the two straight away). There are several options on how to do this in Scrivener – I’ve been using two main methods

  • Append Selection to document: if you highlight a selection of text and then right-click you’ll see this option. Use it to navigate to another section of your Scrivener Project and then just click where you’d like it to be pasted. It is automatically pasted at the bottom of the new section.  For example, I have a folder named “Themes: power and social inclusion”. As I go through my notes/readings, I can highlight a pertinent paragraph- Append Selection to Document ->chose “themes: power and social Inclusion” and my highlighted text will be pasted there. Great way to collate all the bits you’ve got across different readings on the same theme (you can also this via Collections in a way).
  • Scrivener Link: this creates a link to another section of your project.  The new linked section will open up in the Quick Ref pane.  This is useful for things like Author A cites Author B (who you also have in your lit review) and you can link directly to your own notes on Author B.

Have you tried to do a PhD Literature Review using Scrivener? Share your tips and tricks via comments


About Sarina Kilham

I'm a Doctoral Researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney. Trained as a social scientist and with a Masters in Sustainable Agriculture, I'm interested in farmer's experiences of growing feedstock for biodiesel production. My research has focused on biodiesel production in Brazil and Timor-Leste. Also on Twitter @sarinakilham and blogging at
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