Context and the Conceptual Building Blocks for Synthesis in the Literature Reviewing Process

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Conducting a literature review involves trying to capture knowledge in such a way that it can be reused during synthesis and writing and this can be a challenge. We set out to describe the information capture process with the goal of identifying patterns which could influence the design of software that would support the literature reviewing process. We conducted a qualitative user study of four participants with a protocol analysis of the information capture portion of their literature reviewing process, focusing on a detailed description of how they captured contextual information in their notes and annotations, and how this varied across tools used. Our analysis revealed three common patterns of context capture, and quantitative and qualitative differences in these patterns across tools for literature reviewing. These findings provide insights for system design to support information capture in literature reviewing systems.