literature review template notion

Doing a literature review using digital tools (with Notion template)

I’ve recently revamped my literature review workflow since discovering Notion . Notion is an organization application that allows you to make various pages and databases. It’s kind of like your own personal wiki- you can link your pages and embed databases into another page, adding filters and sorting them using user-set properties. The databases are what I use the most. I’ve essentially transferred all of my excel sheets into Notion databases and find it much easier to filter and sort things now. In this post, I’ll go through how I do my literature review and share a Notion template that you can use.

I like to organize my literature review using various literature review tools along with two relational Notion databases: a ‘literature tracker’ and a ‘literature notes’ matrix. You can see a flow chart of my literature review process below (it’s inspired by this post by Jenn’s Studious Life and the three pass method for reading papers which I wrote about last week in this post ):

literature review template notion

As you can see, this process involves a couple of decision points which helps me focus on the most important papers. This is an iterative process that keeps me up to date on relevant research in my field as I am getting new paper alerts in my inbox most days. I used this method quite successfully to write the literature review for my confirmation report and regularly add to it for the expanded version that will become part of my PhD thesis. In this post, I’ll break down how this works for me and how I implement my Notion databases to synthesise the literature I read into a coherent argument.

You can click on the links below to navigate to a particular section of this article:

The literature search

The literature tracker, the literature synthesis matrix, writing your literature review, iterating your literature review, my literature review notion template, some useful resources.

This is always the first step in building your literature review. There are plenty of resources online all about how to start with your search- I find a mixture of database search tools works for me.

The first thing to do when starting your literature review is to identify some keywords to use in your initial searches. It might be worth chatting to your supervisor to make a list of these and then add or remove terms to it as you go down different research routes. You can use keyword searches relevant to your research questions as well tools that find ‘similar’ papers and look at citation links. I also find that just looking through the bibliographies of literature in your field and seeing which papers are regularly cited gives you a good idea of the core papers in your area (you’ll start recognising the key ones after a while). Another method for finding literature is the snowballing method which is particularly useful for conducting a systematic review.

Here are some digital tools I use to help me find literature relevant to my research questions:

Library building and suggestions

Mendeley was my research management tool of choice prior to when I started using Notion to organize all of my literature and create my synthesis matrix. I still use Mendeley as a library just in case anything happens to my Notion. It’s easy to add new papers to your library using the browser extension with just one click. I like that Mendeley allows you to share your folders with colleagues and that I can export bib.tex files straight from my library into overleaf documents where I’m writing up papers and my thesis. You do need to make sure that all of the details are correct before you export the bib.tex files though as this is taken straight from the information plane. I also like to use the tag function in Mendeley to add more specific identifiers than my folders.

Mendeley is also useful for finding literature related to those in your library- I’ve found quite a few interesting papers through the email updates they send out each week with ‘suggested papers’. You can also browse these suggestions from within Mendeley and use its interface to do initial keyword searches. The key is to just scan the titles and then decide whether it’s worth your time reading the abstract and then the rest of it. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of papers being published every day so being picky in what you read is important (and something I need to work on more!).

Mendeley literature library

Some similar tools that allow you to build a library and get literature recommendations include Zotero , Researcher , Academia , and ResearchGate . It’s up to you which one you use for your own purposes. One big factor for me when choosing Mendeley was that my supervisor and colleagues use it so it makes it much easier to share libraries with them, so maybe ask your colleagues what they use before settling on one.

Literature databases and keyword alerts

There are a variety of databases out there for finding literature. My go-to is Web of Science as it shows you citation data and has a nice interface. I used this to begin my initial literature search using my keywords.

The other thing you can do with these kinds of tools is set up email alerts to get a list of recent work that has just been published with any keywords you set. These alerts are usually where I find papers to read during journal club with my supervisor. You can customize these emails to what suits you- mine are set to the top 10 most relevant new papers for each keyword weekly and I track around 5 words/phrases. This allows me to stay on top of the most recent literature in my field- I have alerts set up on a variety of services to ensure that I don’t miss anything crucial (and alerts from the ArXiv mean I see preprints too). Again, you need to be picky about what you read from these to ensure that they are very relevant to your research. At this stage, it’s important to spend as little time as possible scanning titles as this can easily become a time suck.

Web of Science literature keyword search

Some of the other tools I have keyword (and author) email alerts set up on are: Scopus , Google Scholar , Dimensions , and ArXiv alerts . I set 10 minutes maximum aside per day to scan through any new email alerts and save anything relevant to me into my literature tracker (which I’ll come to more later).

Literature mapping tools

There are loads of these kinds of tools out there. Literature mapping can be helpful for finding what the seminal papers are in your field and seeing how literature connects. It’s like a huge web and I find these visual interfaces make it much easier to get my head around the relationships between papers. I use two of these tools during the literature search phase of the flowchart: Citation Gecko and Connected Papers .

Citation Gecko builds you a citation tree using ‘seed papers’. You can import these from various reference management software (like Mendeley), bib.tex files or manually search for papers. This is particularly useful if your supervisor has provided you with some core papers to start off with, or you can use the key papers you identified through scanning the bibliographies of literature you read. My project is split into fairly clear ‘subprojects’ so these tools help me see connections between the various things I’m working on (or a lack of them which is good in some ways as it shows I’ve found a clear research gap!).

Citation Gecko literature map

You can switch between different views and add connecting papers as new seed papers to expand your network. I use this tool from time to time with various different papers associated with my subprojects. It’s helped me make sure I haven’t missed any key papers when doing my literature review and I’ve found it to be fairly accurate, although sometimes more recent papers don’t have any citation data on it so that’s something to bear in mind.

Connected Papers uses a ‘similarity’ algorithm to show paper relationships. This isn’t a citation tree like Citation Gecko but it does also give you prior and derivative works if you want to look at them. All you do is put one of your key papers into the search box and ‘build a graph’. It will then show you related papers, including those which don’t have direct citation links to the key paper. I think this is great for ensuring that you’re not staying inside an insular bubble of the people who all cite each other. It also allows me to see some of the research which is perhaps a bit more tangential to my project and get an overview of where my work sits within the field more broadly.

Connected papers literature map

I like Connected Paper’s key for the generated tree and that it shows where related papers connect between themselves. Again, it’s helpful for ensuring that you haven’t missed a really important work when compiling your literature review and doesn’t just rely on citation links between papers.

This is where I record the details of any paper I come across that I think might be relevant to my PhD. In some ways, it’s very similar to Mendeley but it’s a version that sits within Notion so I have some more customised filtering categories set up, like my ‘status’ field where I track which pass I am on.

Here’s what my literature tracker looks like:

literature review template notion

The beauty of Notion is that you can decide which properties you want to record in your database and customize it to your needs. You can sort and filter using these properties including making nested filters and using multiple filters at once. This makes it really easy to find what you’re looking for. For example, say I’m doing my literature review for my ‘FIB etching’ subproject and want to see all of the papers that I marked as relevant to my PhD but haven’t started reading yet. All I need to do is add a couple of filters:

literature review template notion

And it filters everything so that I’m just looking at the papers I want to check out. It’s this flexibility that I think really gives Notion the edge when it comes to my literature review process.

The other thing I really like about using Notion rather than excel is that I can add different database views. I especially like using the kanban board view to see where I’m at with my reading workflow:

literature review template notion

When I add something to the literature tracker database, I scan the abstract for keywords to add and categorize it in terms of relevant topics. It’s essentially the first pass of the paper, so that involves reading the title, abstract, introduction, section headings, conclusions, and checking the references for anything you recognise. After this is done, I decide whether it’s relevant enough to my PhD to proceed to do a second pass of the paper, at which point I will progress to populating my literature notes database.

Once I’ve decided that I want to do a second pass on a paper, I then add it to the ‘literature notes’ database. This is part of the beauty of Notion: relational databases. I have ‘rollup’ properties set in the literature notes database which shows all of the things I added during my first pass and allows me to filter the matrix using them. You can watch the video below to see exactly how to add a new paper to the ‘notes’ database from the ‘tracker’ database:

During the second pass, I populate the new fields in the ‘notes’ database. These are:

Summary | Objective of study | Key Results | Theory | Materials | Methods | Conclusions | Future work suggested | Critiques | Key connected papers.

I also have various themes/questions/ideas as properties which I add a few notes on for each relevant paper. I then complete my ‘questions for critical engagement’ which are on the entry’s ‘Notes’ page and are stored in the ‘Article Template’. If you want to read more about this process, check out my ‘how to read a scientific paper’ post .

By, doing this I create a synthesis matrix where I can see a breakdown of the key aspects of each paper and can scan down a column to get an overview of all of the papers I have read. For example, if I wanted to see all of the papers about Quantum Point Contacts to get an idea of what previous work has been done so that I can identify my research gap, I can filter using the tag property and can then see the notes I wrote for each entry, broken down by section. I also have tags for my research questions or themes, materials used, experimental techniques, fabrication techniques, and anything else that comes to mind really! The more tags I have for a paper, the easier it is to filter when I want to find a specific thing.

The other property I have included in the literature notes database is ‘Key connected papers’. This is a relation but is within the database itself. So it means that I can link to the page of other papers in the literature matrix. I’ve found this to be useful for connecting to what I call ‘core’ papers. I can also filter using this property, allowing me to see my notes on all of the papers I’ve read that are related to a certain ‘core’ paper. This helps with synthesising all of the information and forming my argument.

literature review template notion

For those papers most relevant to my research (the ‘core’ papers) I’ll also do a third pass which involves reimplementing the paper in my own words. This is quite a time-consuming task so not many papers reach this stage, but those which I have done a third pass on are the ones I know really well. My hope is that this will stand me in good stead for my viva. This process also helps me refine my research questions further as I gain a deeper understanding of the field.

I find that writing up a review is extremely intimidating, but having the literature matrix makes this process that bit easier. I won’t go into too many details as there are already loads of resources out there going into the details of writing up a review, but here’s a brief overview of my own process:

Identify your research themes

Using your literature matrix, review each research theme or question and decide which ones you are going to focus on. These will form the different sections of your literature review and help you write your thesis statement(s). You can also think about how your questions link to ensure that you’re telling a coherent story with your review.

Choose and summarize literature related to each theme

For each section, gather up the most important related literature and summarize the key points of each source. A good literature review doesn’t need to cover all the literature out there, just the most significant sources. I try to stick to around 10 or fewer key sources per section.

Critical evaluation of sources

This is where you utilize the ‘questions for critical engagement’. Make sure you evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the studies you’re writing about. By doing this, you can establish where our knowledge is lacking which will come in helpful later when establishing a research gap.

Analyse each source in relation to other literature

Try to make sure that you are telling a coherent story by linking between your sources. You can go back to the literature matrix here and use it to group similar studies to compare and contrast them. You should also discuss the relevance of the source’s findings in relation to the broader field and core papers.

Situate your research in a research gap

This is where you justify your own research. Using what you have laid out in the rest of the review, show that there is a research gap that you plan to fill and explain how you are going to do that. This should mean that your thesis flows nicely into the next section where you’ll cover the materials and methods you used in your research project.

literature review template notion

In some ways, a literature review never really ends. As you can see in the flowchart at the beginning of this post, I regularly update and revise my literature review as well as refining my research questions. At this point in my PhD, I think that most of my research questions are quite well defined, so I’m mostly just adding any newly published work into my review. I don’t spend much time reading literature at the moment but I’m sure I’ll return to it more regularly when I’m in the write-up phase of my PhD. There is a balance to be had between reading and writing for your literature review and actually getting on with your own research!

Here’s the link to my Notion Literature Review Template . You can duplicate it and adapt it however you want, but this should save you some time setting up the initial databases if you’d like to use my method for organizing your own literature review.

literature review template notion

Here are some resources on how to do a literature review that I’ve found useful during my PhD:

  • The Literature Review: Step-by-Step Guide for Students
  • 3 Steps to Save You From Drowning in Your Literature Review
  • How to write a literature review
  • How to become a literature searching ninja
  • Mind the gap
  • 7 Secrets to Write a PhD Literature Review The Right Way

If you like my work, I’d love your support!

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11 thoughts on “Doing a literature review using digital tools (with Notion template)”

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Thank you so much for your insight and structured process. This will help me a lot kicking off my Master Thesis.

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The perfect method to organize the literature that I have read and will read in the future. I am so glad to have found your website, this will save me from thrashing around in the swamp of literature. I was already feeling the limits of my memory when I was doing my master thesis and this will be so helpful during my PhD.

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Thank you so much for this detailed post! Lily 🙂

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Thank you very much for this. I’m doing my undergrad atm and reading a lot of papers. This seems like an excellent way of tracking everything.

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Thank you, you made my beginning less stressful. I like your system and i helped me a lot. I have one question (more might come later), What do you mean by " journal club with my supervisor."

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This piece is really really helpful! I started from this one and went through the rest blog writings. I agree on many points with Daisy. I had an unhappy experience of PhD two years ago and now just started a new one in another country. I will take it as an adventure and enjoy it.

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This is an AMAZING template. I've found this so helpful for my own workflow. Thank you so much!

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I found this post really helpful. Thank you.

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thank you very much!

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Hi! Thank you very much for posting this guide and sharing your notion template! I do have a question—do you manually enter the references into Notion, or is there any way to speed up the process? Ta x

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Notion for Academic Research & Note-Taking

I have to write a literature review for my master’s thesis. When I wanted to start, I didn’t know how to create a list of scientific papers to read and how to manage this growing list of literature. How do I keep track of all open tabs on my browser? How to find a paper X which used such a method? How to order and classify scientific papers?

There are Mendeley and Zotero , two well-known tools for saving articles and generating bibliographies, but these are only useful for keeping a list of papers. There is little customization possible at the folder or tag level. In any case, they never met my needs. Zotero only serves me as a bank of scientific articles, nothing more.

If you want to build yourself a real list of scientific articles classified according to your needs, as in the image below, continue reading this article to discover my method!

literature review template notion

Why use Notion for academic research?

I was looking for a tool that would allow me to create my own fields to filter out articles that I found during my literature search.

For example:

  • Rating to say how interesting the article is for my research
  • Reading priority
  • The main subject
  • Reading status: to read/read

What sets Notion apart from all competitors is that this note-taking tool offers the possibility of personalizing everything from A to Z, which allowed me to customize the tool exactly for my needs and what I needed for my literature review.

Of course, the main disadvantage of Notion is that since it is a very customizable tool, the learning curve is quite steep: it is difficult to understand how Notion works when you start.

I started using Notion with the current project I’m going to explain in this blog post, so if you have never used Notion before, you should be able to get started with this project!

Related | 14 Ways to Get Motivation to Study NOW!

How to use notion to manage literature for graduate students, first steps on notion & creating the database.

Start by creating an account on Notion . From the left menu, create a new page. Enter a title, and you can also choose an icon to represent the page! Then, select “Table” under “Database” to create a new database to start entering your scientific papers.

Now that the database is created, we need to fill it up! To do so, I used the Google Chrome extension from Notion . 

Add scientific papers with the Notion Chrome Extension

When I’m on the website with the paper or PDF, I click on Notion’s Chrome extension and then select the database I want to add the new article. That’s it! The article is then automatically added to the database with a direct link to the web page.

Then, you can delete the 3 empty rows that were entered in the database automatically.

So, after adding a few papers, you get a database in which ALL of your papers are referenced, regardless of their research subject or methodology. Later, we’ll see how to create different “views” to sort through the papers.

Adding a paper using the Notion Chrome extension is very easy!

How to get the reference of the papers in the Notion database?

I use the Google Scholar Chrome extension to get the BibTex entry for that paper. All that I need to do is to select the title of the paper before clicking on the Google Scholar icon. 

Add properties to the research papers

Now that you’ve learned how to add papers to the database, the next step is to customize the properties you want for the papers! Properties are certain fields we can create to describe the papers in the database. There are many different kinds of properties one can create:

  • Select (1 choice only), Multi-Select (Multiple choices)
  • Dates (Custom date, Created date, Last Updated Date)
  • Files & Media 
  • Tag a Person 

Now that you know what a property is, it’s time to create some! To do this, click on a paper’s title to open the page. Then click on “Add a Property” and add the properties you want. Every property you add will be added to the complete database. You can start with just a few properties that you think will be useful to you, and you can always add more later as you learn to use Notion and discover new ideas for sorting your academic literature!

Here are some ideas of properties: 

  • Status: To Read, Currently Reading, Finished Reading, which is a Select
  • Interesting? : 1 to 3 stars rating, using Select
  • Link to the article, using an URL property
  • The date that you read the article, using a Date property 

Screenshot of the properties a paper can contain: status, rating if it's interesting or not, the URL and the date the paper was read.

Then you can add properties that are directly related to your search. For example, as I’m working on three specific Parkinson’s disease symptoms, I added a “selection” property that lists the symptoms the paper discusses.

The following image shows the properties that I created in my main database to give you some ideas and inspire you. I have a lot ! You don’t have to create that many properties. For me, my database grew from week to week, and I added more and more properties that I found interesting for my research.

Screenshot of a paper about Parkinson's Disease that I added to my Papers database. We can see all the different properties that I created for my own research.

Add different views to sort your papers 

The next step is to create different views to visualize the papers. A view is a way of filtering your main database and saving the filter with a specific name so that you can return to it later. You can filter the papers according to the properties we just created. For example, I created a view that will only show me the papers that I added the tag “To-Read”:

Screenshot of a Notion filter applied to the papers database. It says where Interesting properties contains "TO-READ"

For example, the image below shows all of the different “views” I have of my main database.

Screenshot of the list of views created for the Papers database on Notion

  • All: The main database that will show all the papers with no filter 
  • Comparison Table: A view that shows certain properties that I have selected. It’s a little bit like an Excel table for me. I use this view to compare the papers for my literature review.
  • To Read:  List of papers that I identified as a priority to read for my research.
  • Read: List of papers that I finished reading.
  • Symptoms: 3 different views showing only papers that are related to a specific Parkinson’s Disease symptom
  • Uncontrolled Env: List of studies that were done in controlled laboratory environments  
  • Scripted Tasks: Again, this view is for my research, but it’s a distinction between different ways to evaluate the disease with smartwatches 

Finally, here is an example of what my Reading List looks like, listing papers I identified as absolutely wanting to read:  

Database containing scientific papers to read using Notion

And here is a screenshot of my “Comparison table” view that I use very often: 

literature review template notion

Related | My Research Internship at Johns Hopkins University

Conclusion .

I hope this article has been useful for you and helps you build the basics of your own Notion system for managing your scientific papers! Adapt this method to your needs, and don’t hesitate to share your projects with me. I’m curious to know what you will come up with!

literature review template notion

Marie likes to push her limits and always keep learning new things. She shares her weekly learnings because "if you can't explain it simply, it means you didn't understand it well enough".

14 Ways to Get Motivation to Study NOW!

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Thanks for this post Marie ! I recently discovered it and I am using your template to manage the papers of my Master thesis. I never truly benefited from using Zotero and because I am using Notion for everything else, it seemed like the right decision to use it too for my research.

Hello Irene! Thank you so much for your comment. I’m happy to know this was helpful! Marie

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Hi I am a PhD student and working on climate change. I also work a lot with big data and just started stepping on ML too. This blog post is very useful and what I have been looking for. Thank you so much for sharing it.

Hello Kyoung, Thank you so much for your comment! 🙂 Very happy to know my post was helpful! Marie

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Thank you for your helpful article! I did have a question because I tried using your template and wasn’t sure how to get it to work the way you demonstrated. When I’ve tried using the Google Chrome extension to add articles, I’ve only been able to add them as a separate page, not as an entry into the database.

Hello! Yes, that is possible. When that happens, I actually drag and drop the item afterward in the database. Best, Marie

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Oh my gosh, this is one of the most helpful articles I’ve found. Why didn’t I know about this before? It makes it easier to navigate and research. Thank you so much for these tips.

Hello Miranda, I’m so glad I was able to help 🙂 Marie

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Thanks for this very informative blog-post.

I have been doing some google searching and I found an idea of have two linked tables. it says for Machine learning but it is applicable to all fields.

Just wondering if you have worked with two linked tables and if you find this idea useful ?

The only time I used a linked database is to keep some important citations. I created a “citations” database, and when I wanted to keep an argument that might be useful for my thesis, I would add it to the citations database and link it to the actual paper in my Reading List database.

But for sure, the dashboard that I’m sharing in this blog post can definitely be pushed further!

Best, Marie

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Hi Marie! This is super helpful, and exactly what I was looking for. Such a sophisticated and useful way of storing research notes. I just wondered how you capture all of the details of the academic paper? Do you manually copy and paste author name, year, journal etc? I didn’t really understand the BibTex google scholar extension part? Thank you for the template! Emma

Hello Emma! I’m glad I was able to help!

Yes, at the moment, I manually copu and paste the information that I want to have in my Reading List database on Notion.

Since I published this blog post, Notion has released their API, allowing some automation to be done. I haven’t looked into it yet, but you could search around that if automation is possible now for papers information 🙂

For the BibTex Google Scholar Extension part, did you see the gif I shared about that? Basically, I downloaded the Google Scholar extension for the browser Chrome. This means that I can highlight the title of a paper, and then, when I click on the extension, I can directly get all the BibTex information.

Hope this helps! Marie

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Can we make the thesis report or write a research article in notion? Many prefer latex. Can we do it in Notion?

I don’t think I would suggest writing a research article on Notion. I prefer to use Overleaf, as it supports LaTeX, version history, collaboration, comments, etc.

Notion is better for Markdown!

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Hi, I was wondering is it possible to import Mendeley’s library to notion? I have a 1000+ library and I would love to use my attention pdf. How are you dealing with the annotation of pdf? Are you using any pdf file or just doi with your own annotations for the paper within notion?

Hello! I am basically using this as a way to write notes instead of annotating a PDF on my iPad most of the times. I haven’t done a workflow that does both. Since your comment, Notion has released their API, so it might be possible to import your articles from Mendeley to Notion with such a tool:

But I haven’t tried it! Marie

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I am considering adopting Notion and your post (forwarded to me by a dear colleague) is very useful! I have a quick question to help me appreciate better the power of Notion: what would be the difference between the Notion database of articles and a spredsheet (Google sheets, Excel, OO)? Thanks!

Hello Patricia! Glad to know people are sharing my blog posts! 🙂

I would say that Notion can be like a Google Sheet, but the opposite isn’t true. In a way, Notion can be more powerful. The interface is also prettier to work with, at least in my opinion, and more instinctive!

It also allows to add “properties” to each paper, which you can’t really do on Google sheets (or would be more complicated to implement), it would mostly just be columns and rows. In Notion you can do that, but also have more information and see it from different views.

Hope that helps! Marie

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OMG, this is crazy <3 , exactly what I am looking for! Thank you so much!

Glad to hear that!

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She Sciences

  • Research Advice

How to Use Notion as a Research Lab Notebook for Ph.D. Research

Notion is one of my favorite tools for organizing my research lab experiments, notes, data, and tasks! Notion is a free and premium cloud-based app that allows you to create highly customizable and visual pages and dashboards for keeping your life organized.

I first started using Notion in 2021 during my Ph.D., when I created the free Simple Graduate Student Notion Dashboard . As I learned more about using Notion , I developed this Research Lab Notebook template to keep track of all my research lab-related tasks, protocols, and notes, all while storing important information like literature reviews and data. This research lab notebook is an excellent Notion template for Ph.D., master’s, and undergraduate students engaged in research. Sign up for a Notion account here if you don’t already have an account!

This Research Lab Notebook template is only for organizing research lab experiments. I currently do not have this template integrated with any manuscript, thesis, or dissertation writing tools aside from literature review. But this template is certainly designed to be used and referenced during the writing process!

What is Notion?

Notion is freemium software that allows you to create pages, templates, and databases for organizing information. This app is more than a basic note-taking app! It allows you to customize your pages and databases to what you need to work smarter and more efficiently. Notion is available across devices, so you can always access your Notion from your phone, computer, or tablet. Notion offers several subscription levels. The free version offers all basic tools for using and creating Notion templates. The premium subscriptions provide more tools and functionality for small and large teams or even entire organizations. The free software is sufficient for individuals, but if you work on a small team, like with a research group, the Plus subscription offers features like unlimited file uploads and more!

In addition to signing up for Notion, you can add on the Notion AI tool as well. This newly launched tool integrates the power of AI into your Notion workspace. I’ve enjoyed using Notion AI for summarizing, paraphrasing, brainstorming, and organizing my thoughts. The AI tool is seamlessly integrated into Notion and works very well!

Sign up for a Notion account here !

Why do I love using Notion?

I’ve been using Notion for several years now and have found it to be one of the best (and most fun) software to use for note-taking and organizing. Firstly, it’s plain fun to organize and design your template! You can easily create your own Notion aesthetic and design pages to fit your needs. I also love how I can use it across all my devices. It’s also very affordable for students, as there is a free version. And Notion AI is well-priced at just $8 a month.

Research Lab Notebook Notion Template Features

What is included in the research lab notebook notion template.

The Research Lab Notebook Notion Template includes

  • Homepage with daily and weekly experiment and task trackers
  • Daily lab notebook database for tracking the day’s experiments and taking notes.
  • Project management database views so you can manage all your research projects in a single view
  • Detailed literature review template/literature review database
  • Data management plan page
  • Protocols database that can be related to lab notebook tasks and entries so you never forget which protocol you used!

Research Tasks and Experiments Database – The Brain of the Notion Template

The Daily and Weekly Tasks and Experiments databases are linked copies of the “All Research Projects Tasks and Experiments” database, so I will start by explaining this database first. The “Research Projects Tasks and Experiments” database is where you can input all of your research-related tasks and experiments. Each task or experiment can be labeled with the project, the goals, the due date, and the status.

literature review template notion

After you input this information, if the date is “Today” the tasks will populate the Today’s Tasks and Experiments Table. And if the date is “Today or within one week from today,” it will populate the This Weeks Tasks and Experiments Table! On the master Research Projects Tasks and Experiments database, you can create additional views by simply adding a view along the top of the database. I’ve included views by project, status, or the calendar view. The project view is beneficial when you want to look at everything you’ve completed for a single project.

Daily Research Lab Notebook

Now, once you’re in the lab and working, you’ll want to keep track of everything you do during the day! You can do this in the Research Lab Notebook. Here, when you create a new entry, custom template will be generated so you can begin planning and tracking your day! The “Tasks and Experiments” property allows you to link to the associated tasks you created in the Research Projects Tasks and Experiments database. This way, your tasks and lab notebook are always linked! In this column, you can link to multiple tasks and experiments in case you do multiple experiments in one day.

n the next column, you can similarly link to any protocols stored in the protocol database. And when you go back to your protocol database, you can see all the lab notebook entries that used that protocol! Cool right? Everything links together so you can easily reference your experiments, lab notebook, and protocols from multiple pages on this template. You can also use different views to visualize your lab notebook by project.

Protocols Manager

literature review template notion

Here is a quick view of the protocol database! Create your protocol here and use the relation property to link it to any of your lab notebook entries! For each protocol entry, you can write out your methodology, take notes, and link to any associated literature.

Literature Review Template

Like the protocols database, there is a designated page for reviewing literature! This database uses properties that will guide you through your reading, offers a space for file uploads and note taking, and a property for relating your entries to lab notebook entries and protocols!

I hope this template is helpful for you to keep all of your research notes organized in Notion! Let us know in the comments what other ways you use Notion to keep your research life organized!

How can I get the Research Lab Notebook Notion Template?

This template is a premium template, so it is for sale on the She Science Gumroad Shop or Etsy Shop . Once you purchase, you have lifetime access to the template and will receive any major updates via email!

Is there a subscription cost?

The Research Lab Notebook Notion Template can be used with a free Notion account.

How Much is the Research Lab Notebook Notion Template?

The Research Lab Notebook Notion Template is $9.

How do I get my Notion Template?

After your purchase, you will receive a PDF eBook with a link to lifetime access to the template and a guide on how to use the template.

Are you ready to organize your research?

The Research Lab Notebook Notion Template is here to help keep your research lab notes, experiments, tasks, and data organized!

✓ Maximize your productivity

✓ Never miss an experiment ✓ Manage your projects

Learn more about She Science’s Notion Templates

  • Simple grad student Notion template
  • All-in-one grad student Notion template for grad school, personal life, and professional development.
  • Ph.D. Degree and Dissertation Planner template

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literature review template notion

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  • How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates

How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates

Published on January 2, 2023 by Shona McCombes . Revised on September 11, 2023.

What is a literature review? A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources on a specific topic. It provides an overview of current knowledge, allowing you to identify relevant theories, methods, and gaps in the existing research that you can later apply to your paper, thesis, or dissertation topic .

There are five key steps to writing a literature review:

  • Search for relevant literature
  • Evaluate sources
  • Identify themes, debates, and gaps
  • Outline the structure
  • Write your literature review

A good literature review doesn’t just summarize sources—it analyzes, synthesizes , and critically evaluates to give a clear picture of the state of knowledge on the subject.

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Table of contents

What is the purpose of a literature review, examples of literature reviews, step 1 – search for relevant literature, step 2 – evaluate and select sources, step 3 – identify themes, debates, and gaps, step 4 – outline your literature review’s structure, step 5 – write your literature review, free lecture slides, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions, introduction.

  • Quick Run-through
  • Step 1 & 2

When you write a thesis , dissertation , or research paper , you will likely have to conduct a literature review to situate your research within existing knowledge. The literature review gives you a chance to:

  • Demonstrate your familiarity with the topic and its scholarly context
  • Develop a theoretical framework and methodology for your research
  • Position your work in relation to other researchers and theorists
  • Show how your research addresses a gap or contributes to a debate
  • Evaluate the current state of research and demonstrate your knowledge of the scholarly debates around your topic.

Writing literature reviews is a particularly important skill if you want to apply for graduate school or pursue a career in research. We’ve written a step-by-step guide that you can follow below.

Literature review guide

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Writing literature reviews can be quite challenging! A good starting point could be to look at some examples, depending on what kind of literature review you’d like to write.

  • Example literature review #1: “Why Do People Migrate? A Review of the Theoretical Literature” ( Theoretical literature review about the development of economic migration theory from the 1950s to today.)
  • Example literature review #2: “Literature review as a research methodology: An overview and guidelines” ( Methodological literature review about interdisciplinary knowledge acquisition and production.)
  • Example literature review #3: “The Use of Technology in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Thematic literature review about the effects of technology on language acquisition.)
  • Example literature review #4: “Learners’ Listening Comprehension Difficulties in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Chronological literature review about how the concept of listening skills has changed over time.)

You can also check out our templates with literature review examples and sample outlines at the links below.

Download Word doc Download Google doc

Before you begin searching for literature, you need a clearly defined topic .

If you are writing the literature review section of a dissertation or research paper, you will search for literature related to your research problem and questions .

Make a list of keywords

Start by creating a list of keywords related to your research question. Include each of the key concepts or variables you’re interested in, and list any synonyms and related terms. You can add to this list as you discover new keywords in the process of your literature search.

  • Social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok
  • Body image, self-perception, self-esteem, mental health
  • Generation Z, teenagers, adolescents, youth

Search for relevant sources

Use your keywords to begin searching for sources. Some useful databases to search for journals and articles include:

  • Your university’s library catalogue
  • Google Scholar
  • Project Muse (humanities and social sciences)
  • Medline (life sciences and biomedicine)
  • EconLit (economics)
  • Inspec (physics, engineering and computer science)

You can also use boolean operators to help narrow down your search.

Make sure to read the abstract to find out whether an article is relevant to your question. When you find a useful book or article, you can check the bibliography to find other relevant sources.

You likely won’t be able to read absolutely everything that has been written on your topic, so it will be necessary to evaluate which sources are most relevant to your research question.

For each publication, ask yourself:

  • What question or problem is the author addressing?
  • What are the key concepts and how are they defined?
  • What are the key theories, models, and methods?
  • Does the research use established frameworks or take an innovative approach?
  • What are the results and conclusions of the study?
  • How does the publication relate to other literature in the field? Does it confirm, add to, or challenge established knowledge?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the research?

Make sure the sources you use are credible , and make sure you read any landmark studies and major theories in your field of research.

You can use our template to summarize and evaluate sources you’re thinking about using. Click on either button below to download.

Take notes and cite your sources

As you read, you should also begin the writing process. Take notes that you can later incorporate into the text of your literature review.

It is important to keep track of your sources with citations to avoid plagiarism . It can be helpful to make an annotated bibliography , where you compile full citation information and write a paragraph of summary and analysis for each source. This helps you remember what you read and saves time later in the process.

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literature review template notion

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To begin organizing your literature review’s argument and structure, be sure you understand the connections and relationships between the sources you’ve read. Based on your reading and notes, you can look for:

  • Trends and patterns (in theory, method or results): do certain approaches become more or less popular over time?
  • Themes: what questions or concepts recur across the literature?
  • Debates, conflicts and contradictions: where do sources disagree?
  • Pivotal publications: are there any influential theories or studies that changed the direction of the field?
  • Gaps: what is missing from the literature? Are there weaknesses that need to be addressed?

This step will help you work out the structure of your literature review and (if applicable) show how your own research will contribute to existing knowledge.

  • Most research has focused on young women.
  • There is an increasing interest in the visual aspects of social media.
  • But there is still a lack of robust research on highly visual platforms like Instagram and Snapchat—this is a gap that you could address in your own research.

There are various approaches to organizing the body of a literature review. Depending on the length of your literature review, you can combine several of these strategies (for example, your overall structure might be thematic, but each theme is discussed chronologically).


The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time. However, if you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order.

Try to analyze patterns, turning points and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred.

If you have found some recurring central themes, you can organize your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic.

For example, if you are reviewing literature about inequalities in migrant health outcomes, key themes might include healthcare policy, language barriers, cultural attitudes, legal status, and economic access.


If you draw your sources from different disciplines or fields that use a variety of research methods , you might want to compare the results and conclusions that emerge from different approaches. For example:

  • Look at what results have emerged in qualitative versus quantitative research
  • Discuss how the topic has been approached by empirical versus theoretical scholarship
  • Divide the literature into sociological, historical, and cultural sources


A literature review is often the foundation for a theoretical framework . You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts.

You might argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach, or combine various theoretical concepts to create a framework for your research.

Like any other academic text , your literature review should have an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion . What you include in each depends on the objective of your literature review.

The introduction should clearly establish the focus and purpose of the literature review.

Depending on the length of your literature review, you might want to divide the body into subsections. You can use a subheading for each theme, time period, or methodological approach.

As you write, you can follow these tips:

  • Summarize and synthesize: give an overview of the main points of each source and combine them into a coherent whole
  • Analyze and interpret: don’t just paraphrase other researchers — add your own interpretations where possible, discussing the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole
  • Critically evaluate: mention the strengths and weaknesses of your sources
  • Write in well-structured paragraphs: use transition words and topic sentences to draw connections, comparisons and contrasts

In the conclusion, you should summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance.

When you’ve finished writing and revising your literature review, don’t forget to proofread thoroughly before submitting. Not a language expert? Check out Scribbr’s professional proofreading services !

This article has been adapted into lecture slides that you can use to teach your students about writing a literature review.

Scribbr slides are free to use, customize, and distribute for educational purposes.

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If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility


  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources (such as books, journal articles, and theses) related to a specific topic or research question .

It is often written as part of a thesis, dissertation , or research paper , in order to situate your work in relation to existing knowledge.

There are several reasons to conduct a literature review at the beginning of a research project:

  • To familiarize yourself with the current state of knowledge on your topic
  • To ensure that you’re not just repeating what others have already done
  • To identify gaps in knowledge and unresolved problems that your research can address
  • To develop your theoretical framework and methodology
  • To provide an overview of the key findings and debates on the topic

Writing the literature review shows your reader how your work relates to existing research and what new insights it will contribute.

The literature review usually comes near the beginning of your thesis or dissertation . After the introduction , it grounds your research in a scholarly field and leads directly to your theoretical framework or methodology .

A literature review is a survey of credible sources on a topic, often used in dissertations , theses, and research papers . Literature reviews give an overview of knowledge on a subject, helping you identify relevant theories and methods, as well as gaps in existing research. Literature reviews are set up similarly to other  academic texts , with an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion .

An  annotated bibliography is a list of  source references that has a short description (called an annotation ) for each of the sources. It is often assigned as part of the research process for a  paper .  

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McCombes, S. (2023, September 11). How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates. Scribbr. Retrieved April 9, 2024, from

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literature review template notion

  • Sep 29, 2020
  • 10 min read

How I Use Notion as a PhD Student (With Template)

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

For the most up-to-date version of this template, click the button to head to my new website

Or check out my other PhD template – the Ultimate PhD Notion Template

Here's the YouTube video I made about this Notion setup:

I discovered Notion about a month ago, and it has honestly changed my life, both at my PhD and personally. If you don't know what Notion is, it's self-described as an "all-in-one workspace", but is basically a program / app where you create databases and pages to store any and all kinds of information. Personally, I use it to track the books I'm reading, my recipes, and I've even set up my Christmas planning in there. I also use it for organising my Instagram and blog, and keeping track of my overall career progress.

But most importantly, I now use Notion on a daily basis for my PhD. So if you're interested in how I use Notion in my PhD, then keep on reading! And if you're just interested in my template at the end, then scroll down to the bottom where I'll leave a link to it.

(For the purposes of this post I'm going to talk you through the PhD template I made instead of my own actual PhD pages, as they contain unpublished information and cannot actually be shared. However, it's important that you know they are identical to each other, just the template has the sensitive information removed!)

In a PhD, there is a lot to keep track of. Things to do and things you've done, papers to read and papers to write up. So it helps to have a space to keep track of all these things. I originally had a million and one excel spreadsheets and word documents, but once I discovered Notion, I realised how much easier it was to have it all stored in the one place! And one of the best things about Notion is it's free for students!

literature review template notion

I start my overarching PhD page with a header of a brain, because as you all probably know, I'm studying neuroscience. Then my little emoji of choice for the page is a graduation cap. One of the things I love about Notion is the widespread use of emojis, where every page can be assigned an emoji. I then have a quote about doing a PhD which I found to be quite funny, alongside a countdown to my PhD submission date. I made this countdown using this website I found called Indify, which specialises in making free Notion widgets that you can embed into your page. I've left my countdown in the template, but if you want to use this template for yourself, you can either remove the countdown entirely, or go to Indify and create your own!

literature review template notion

As you scroll down, I have my list of different pages, which I'll go through with you all in just a moment. But they basically cover everything you need to know or keep track of.

literature review template notion

Scrolling down further, you reach my tasks planner. I use Google Calendar for my overall diary but I do like to just have a space for planning out my PhD tasks. First up on my tasks section is the Calendar View, where I can see everything laid out for each day. For illustrative purposes, I've put in a few example tasks that I may need to do for my PhD in the month of September so you can see what it would look like.

literature review template notion

Next we have the "Task Inbox", which was inspired by a YouTube video I watched on creating a "Getting Things Done" (GTD) Dashboard! I did modify this a little bit from the video, but if you're interested in the original source of the idea, here's the link!

But basically, when you need to add a new task in, you click for a new item in the inbox. You then enter all the information you need in, including the due date and whether it's a high priority task, and once you assign it to a specific project in the last column, it disappears from the inbox. You won't then see that task again unless you look forward on the calendar or unless it's due that week in which case it'll show up in the "Tasks Due This Week" table.

I've added some example tasks to the week to show what it may look like when you have some tasks in your "Tasks Due This Week" section. Notice "random task 2" is missing? That's because I've ticked it as "Done", at which point it automatically removes it from the table. That way, I only see my to do list for the week with items that haven't been done yet!

At the very bottom of this front page, is a link to the master list page for the tasks, in case you want to view all the tasks you've created, past, present and future.

And that just about covers my main dashboard for my PhD template! Now onto the individual specific pages from further up the page.

literature review template notion

First up we have "Meetings / Seminar Notes". This is a pretty self explanatory one. Every time I have an important meeting, I type up my meeting notes that I took on my iPad into Notion. I can then tag for specific meetings, the meeting date and who was in attendance. This last feature is particularly great, because I could then say for example filter for all meetings where my supervisor was or was not present.

literature review template notion

If you go into each meeting's page, you can then take or type up your notes. I've created a few different templates for different types of meetings / seminars, but you can take this one step further. If you know a particular set of people are always in your team meeting for example, you can edit the "Team Meeting" template so that it automatically lists those people as being in attendance when you use that template.

I also need to shout out to Jacqueline Beaulieu's Youtube channel , which has talked about using Notion as a student multiple times. In particular, I want to mention the video I've linked below, which was the genius behind some of the templates in this part of my PhD workspace.

literature review template notion

The next page is pretty self-explanatory too, in that it's where I store my various protocols. As scientists, we can use a lot of different techniques, and it's easy to lose track of the protocols for it. So I use this section to make a page per protocol, and write it up so I have them stored in one place!

literature review template notion

Next up is the "New Papers to Read" page. I use this as a dashboard to put in new papers that have come out that I'm yet to read but need to read. I've left in two papers from my HUGE reading list, one research and one review, so that you can see what it would look like with papers inputted in. At the very end of the table is a spot for the URL, so you can easily link, but you could also make a file heading and upload the PDF instead so you already have that ready to go for later.

literature review template notion

Following on from this is a "Publication Record" page to store all of your publications. Simply write up each citation and embed the papers beneath, and voilà , you have an easy place to find all the papers you've published! This may seem like overkill, but you don't know how many times I've searched for my own publications in Google Scholar because I needed to find something out from them...

literature review template notion

Next is the "Thesis Figures Tracker". This might be my favourite page of the whole thing! Basically, I use this page to keep track of my figures in my thesis within each chapter. The headings for this table are: "Finished?", "Chapter", "Figure Title", "Image" (which is basically a place to upload your figure), "Data or Schematic?", "Created on?", "Date Started", "Date Completed", "Based on..." (for if you've based your figure on another papers and need to cite), "Figure Legend" (yes/no), "Scale Bar" (yes/no), and "Comments". This may sound a lot, but it really helps you keep track of what stage your figures are up to.

literature review template notion

But the pièce de résistance is when you view the figures tracker in "Board View" rather than "Table View". This allows you to actually visualise all of your figures, as the figure images you upload become the display pictures, and you can see all the information you need beneath!

literature review template notion

The last main page is "Literature Notes", which is exactly what it sounds like, a place to make notes on the literature. I've put in an example article so you can see what it looks like, but basically the headers are "Title", "Authors", "Year", "Journal", "Type of Article", "In vitro or in vivo", "Species", "Tissue", and "File" (so you can upload the PDF if you want to).

literature review template notion

If you actually go into the article's page, there is a template to use, with headers for summarising the paper, noting what the key findings were, and writing down your critiques of the paper. Overall, this part of the template is great for new PhD students, but if you're already established and have written the bulk of your lit review, it may not be of much use!

literature review template notion

Finally, we have the pages for specific papers. These are all the same as each other, so I'll just go through one of them.

literature review template notion

Within each paper, you have a space to write the paper title, and the core aims / hypotheses. Then there are two pages within, a figures tracker and an experiments tracker.

literature review template notion

The figures tracker is much the same as the thesis figures tracker, with the same headings and the same "Board View" effect option. This is just a way for you to keep track of the figures for each paper, so that you don't lose track.

literature review template notion

Last but not least is the experiments tracker, which is useful for keeping track of experiments. You can go into each experiment's page and write down the information about the experiment you need, such as antibody concentrations or suppliers / manufacturers. Then when you come to write up the paper, you have all that information at hand.

literature review template notion

My favourite thing to do is view this database in "Board View" again, so that I can just glance at it and see which experiments are at which stage in the experimental process. I've made the tags so they're applicable to my immunohistochemistry experiments, but you could change them to be whatever you need them to be!

UPDATE 16/1/21

I've now added a "word count" page to my Notion template! It's really easy to use, and it's just a way to keep yourself accountable for how much writing you've achieved each day. You can find it under the main "pages" section on the template, and it's really simple to fill out. My goal is to write 500 words a day over the rest of my PhD, as I'm now in my final year and need to be making daily progress on writing up.

literature review template notion

In the template, I've added some example days of writing so you can see how to use the template. Basically, you put the word count for each of your papers / chapters in for each day. For example, on day 1 you had only written 100 words of your first PhD paper, but on day 2 you had a total word count of 200. Don't add in these columns the amount of words you wrote each day, just the total word count you can see for each document.

literature review template notion

Then, at the end of the table, it will tally up your total word count across all your documents. In the next column, just write in what the word count was the day before, and then in the next column it will automatically calculate how much you've written specifically that day. Since my goal is to write 500 words a day, I've included a formula checkbox that ticks itself when I've hit my writing target.

literature review template notion

It's important to note however that you can change that word goal if you'd like. Just go in to edit the formula, and change the "500" value to be whatever you'd like your word goal to be. Then it'll automatically tick the box when you've hit your daily target!

UPDATE 1/3/22

I've now also added two professional development pages to my Notion template - "Opportunities" and "Professional Contacts"! These pages are there to simply make your life easier when trying to optimise your CV and network connections ready for applying for work when you graduate from your postgraduate degree. Let's start by looking at the "Opportunities" page...

literature review template notion

This page is great because it is a place for you to store all professional opportunities you encounter. I've made it to encompass volunteering and internships, although you can edit the tags to include any other opportunity types that are applicable. The opportunities are grouped into two sections, "Apply Now" and "Future Opportunity". This means that not only do you have somewhere to store opportunities that you want to actively apply for, but if you also stumble across something that would be great maybe more towards the end of your degree that you don't want to forget about, then that can also be housed here!

literature review template notion

Inside each page, you can then also include any extra things you need to know, such as any eligibility requirements or anything you may need to apply for the opportunity, eg. your resume, cover letter, academic transcripts, etc. There is also a place to directly link to where the opportunity is being advertised, as well as attach a relevant file, eg. an advertising flyer.

literature review template notion

The other new page in this template is the "Professional Contacts" page. This is the place to collect and store information about all of the important professional contacts you meet during your studies and beyond. This includes their name, their association, their field of work, their relationship to you, and two emails (in case you have both a professional and a personal email for certain people). There is also a checkbox that you can tick if you have connected with them on LinkedIn, as well as a checkbox that you can tick if you believe they would make a good referee for you on future job applications. Finally, there's a place to record the last date you contacted each person to ensure you don't leave it too long before reaching out, as well as a place to write a brief update from the last time you spoke.

So that's it for my Notion PhD Dashboard. I hope that me stepping through my Notion was of some use to you all! If you have any questions, or any improvements you want to suggest, definitely reach out to me! I'm always happy to talk all things Notion.

And now for the moment you've all been waiting for, the template download! When you access the template, just go to the top right hand corner and click "Duplicate" to copy it into your own Notion account!

To access the most up-to-date version of this template, head over to my new website at:

Amazing explanation of Notion and such a helpful template to get me started. Thanks so much, Lily. ☺️

Thank you sooooo much for this. I am just starting my PhD and this is just brilliant. Well done you and thank you again.

Academic Writing in Notion (with Template)

You’ve got that paper to write but no idea where to start? You are drowning in literature that’s scattered all over the place? And you just don’t have a system to turn all your research into some tangible results? Whenever I had some sort of Academic Writing to tackle, it usually started with the feeling of being overwhelmed. So much literature to go through. No structure in place to sort what I’ve found. And certainly no time to take a deep breath and look for a good system to do it all. I usually ended up writing notes in Word while copypasting links to sources in a frantic attempt to organise all my readings. Needless to say, it wasn’t a very effective approach. Luckily, Notion is absolutely amazing at organising any Academic Writing project. And with this Academic Writing in Notion Template, you can easily master your reading list, set your writing project up for success and start connecting the dots .

Read on for more explanations or jump to the bottom of the page to get this ( free ) Academic Writing in Notion Template

YouTube video

Your Academic Writing Hub in Notion

The main page of the template is designed to be the command center of your writing projects.

Up top, you’ll find the the Navigation Bar that will let you jump quickly between sections.

You can customise your Quick Links section according to your most used resources. Quick Notes lets you create a new note without interrupting your workflow. And with Active Writings , you never lose track of what you’re working on.

Next, you’ll find your Inbox that will keep track of all new readings that you’ve collected.

Tip: Use the Save to Notion Webclipper instead of Notion’s native clipper to customise how you import your sources.

And directly below, there’s your reading list, sorted by priority, so that you always know what to work on next.

Your Readings List in Notion

If you’ve ever struggled to organise your readings list or deal with all the material you’ve already worked through, then this is the section for you.

Your Readings shows you various views of your sources, so that you can focus on what really matters: working through the list and using your insights for your writing projects.

It contains an Inbox for new material that needs to be sorted and a Reading List that shows you what you should read next.

Further down the page, you’ll see your Most Used Readings . If you write a lot of articles, then this will become a treasure trove of your most useful resources so that you don’t have to sort through piles of documents to find that one article that you keep referencing everywhere.

See where you stand at a glance with the Status View. What are you currently reading? Which articles need to be summarised? Track your progress and make sure that nothing falls through the cracks

Lastly, the Master Table provides you with a comprehensive overview. Add the correct citation so that you can easily export your readings list to your literature cataloguing software of choice. Add a short summary and the relevance of this reading to sort through them quickly at a later time.

Think of your Readings section as your own personal knowledge management system , dedicated to a specific purpose: producing great writing.

Most importantly, add the Topics of the Reading to make some magic in Notion happen. How? We’ll get to that in a moment.

Your Topics in Notion

Topics are one of the coolest features of this Academic Writing for Notion Template.

Everyone who’s ever written an academic paper knows the struggle: how do you best match your readings to the content that you want to write? Your sources rarely only cover one aspect. Most of the times, a reading is relevant for several parts of your paper and on top of that, it might be useful for a different writing project too.

Enter Topics .

Simply tag each writing with the topics covered in it. Go as granular as you need – you can always delete topics later or add more, but try to get the gist of them.

This has three major benefits over the traditional let’s-take-notes-in-word-and-hope-we-find-it-again-later-when-we-need-it-approach.

First, you can open the My Topics to sort through your Topics and see recurring themes immediately. What topics keep popping up? It’s the first step to start connecting the dots.

Second, you can use a Topic to write so called Evergreen Notes . Evergreen Notes are notes that – like evergreen songs – are timeless and can be reused in a variety of ways. If you keep referencing certain concepts in your articles, then you can simply use your Evergreen Notes on that topic to quickly insert text snippets instead of having to start from 0 every single time.

Each Topic comes with it’s own dashboard to show you every single reading, writing or note that you’ve ever created for this topic. That way, creating your Evergreen Notes is a breeze.

The underlying concept for this part of the Academic Writing in Notion template is called Global Tags in Notio n and it’s super powerful.

The third thing is the magic we’ve talked about above and you’ll find it in the next step.

Your Writings in Notion

Now to the heart of the template, your personal Writing HQ.

First of, you have a general dashboard to keep track of all your writing projects.

Use the Master Table to add information to your projects. You can both create standalone Articles as well as Books and their respective Chapters for longer projects.

The Status View is your personal project management tool. Never forget an idea for a writing project again. And simply drag & drop a project into a different status once you’re ready to take the next step.

What’s even better though is the specific dashboard for each writing project. Any time you add a new project in your Academic Writing in Notion Template, the system will create it automatically.

Once you pick all related Topics for a writing project, it will automatically pull in all the relevant information that you’ve ever collected. Never dig through your notes again or frantically try to remember where you saved that paper that could come in handy now. They will all resurface on their own.

Like Magic.

( speaking of magic: have you tried my method to replace Siri with ChatGPT ? )

Your Notes in Notion

Lastly, no template would be complete without a dedicated section for Notes .

The Academic Writing in Notion Template comes pre-loaded with two types of notes:

  • Meeting Notes to keep track of talks with your supervisor or colleagues, so that you always have their input within arms reach
  • Brainstorming Notes to quickly jot down some thoughts that can be sorted later

Just remember to assign a Topic or Related Writing and your notes will automatically appear in the right context, wherever you need them.

Don’t forget to use the Quick Note feature on the main page of the template to make a quick note without interrupting your workflow.

Tip: You could easily integrate this part of the Academic Writing in Notion Setup with another template of mine: Zettelkasten for Notion , a simple tool for networked thoughts. If you need help setting this up, just tweet me @mfreihaendig .

Get Your Free Academic Writing In Notion Template Now

Streamline your workflow and start connecting the dots with my (free) Academic Writing in Notion Template:

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Literature Organization Notion Template

Easily Organize Your Research Articles In Notion

  • Easily organize your research articles in Notion
  • Sync your articles from Research Rabbit into Notion
  • Sync your articles from Zotero to Notion with Notero
  • Add research articles to a research paper and review planning
  • Set dates to read your articles
  • A list that contains the articles set to be read this week
  • Add pdfs to your notion template
  • Make your research articles searchable

Who is this template for?

Graduate students (Master or Ph.D.) and researchers that want to organize their literature in Notion

Test the Template:

You can explore the template by clicking the link below:

Click here to explore the template!

Please Note: This template is included in Research Accelerator!

Frequently Asked Questions

Once you purchase the template, you will get access to a product in the membership area. In this product, there will be videos to show you how to duplicate and use the template.

There will also be links to duplicate the template in the lessons!

Due to the nature of Notion Templates, I do not offer refunds for Notion templates.

You cannot share my template. This template is my intellectual property and cannot be shared for free or sold in part or whole.

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"Really useful tool for me embarking upon my MA dissertation :)"

"This changed my life, as I'm 40 references deep for just one exam for one class in my DrPH program. Thanks for creating this amazing resource!"

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What’s Included: Literature Review Template

This template is structure is based on the tried and trusted best-practice format for formal academic research projects such as dissertations and theses. The literature review template includes the following sections:

  • Before you start – essential groundwork to ensure you’re ready
  • The introduction section
  • The core/body section
  • The conclusion /summary
  • Extra free resources

Each section is explained in plain, straightforward language , followed by an overview of the key elements that you need to cover. We’ve also included practical examples and links to more free videos and guides to help you understand exactly what’s required in each section.

The cleanly-formatted Google Doc can be downloaded as a fully editable MS Word Document (DOCX format), so you can use it as-is or convert it to LaTeX.

PS – if you’d like a high-level template for the entire thesis, you can we’ve got that too .

FAQs: Literature Review Template

What format is the template (doc, pdf, ppt, etc.).

The literature review chapter template is provided as a Google Doc. You can download it in MS Word format or make a copy to your Google Drive. You’re also welcome to convert it to whatever format works best for you, such as LaTeX or PDF.

What types of literature reviews can this template be used for?

The template follows the standard format for academic literature reviews, which means it will be suitable for the vast majority of academic research projects (especially those within the sciences), whether they are qualitative or quantitative in terms of design.

Keep in mind that the exact requirements for the literature review chapter will vary between universities and degree programs. These are typically minor, but it’s always a good idea to double-check your university’s requirements before you finalize your structure.

Is this template for an undergrad, Master or PhD-level thesis?

This template can be used for a literature review at any level of study. Doctoral-level projects typically require the literature review to be more extensive/comprehensive, but the structure will typically remain the same.

Can I modify the template to suit my topic/area?

Absolutely. While the template provides a general structure, you should adapt it to fit the specific requirements and focus of your literature review.

What structural style does this literature review template use?

The template assumes a thematic structure (as opposed to a chronological or methodological structure), as this is the most common approach. However, this is only one dimension of the template, so it will still be useful if you are adopting a different structure.

Does this template include the Excel literature catalog?

No, that is a separate template, which you can download for free here . This template is for the write-up of the actual literature review chapter, whereas the catalog is for use during the literature sourcing and sorting phase.

How long should the literature review chapter be?

This depends on your university’s specific requirements, so it’s best to check with them. As a general ballpark, literature reviews for Masters-level projects are usually 2,000 – 3,000 words in length, while Doctoral-level projects can reach multiples of this.

Can I include literature that contradicts my hypothesis?

Yes, it’s important to acknowledge and discuss literature that presents different viewpoints or contradicts your hypothesis. So, don’t shy away from existing research that takes an opposing view to yours.

How do I avoid plagiarism in my literature review?

Always cite your sources correctly and paraphrase ideas in your own words while maintaining the original meaning. You can always check our plagiarism score before submitting your work to help ease your mind. 

Do you have an example of a populated template?

We provide a walkthrough of the template and review an example of a high-quality literature research chapter here .

Can I share this literature review template with my friends/colleagues?

Yes, you’re welcome to share this template in its original format (no editing allowed). If you want to post about it on your blog or social media, all we ask is that you reference this page as your source.

Do you have templates for the other dissertation/thesis chapters?

Yes, we do. You can find our full collection of templates here .

Can Grad Coach help me with my literature review?

Yes, you’re welcome to get in touch with us to discuss our private coaching services , where we can help you work through the literature review chapter (and any other chapters).

Free Webinar: Literature Review 101


  1. Doing a literature review using digital tools (with Notion template)

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  2. Doing a literature review using digital tools (with Notion template)

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  5. 50 Smart Literature Review Templates (APA) ᐅ TemplateLab

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    The template is an easy solution for students preparing their thesis or essays. It provides space for notes on important articles and tags, which are helpful for sorting the papers by topic, key words or status. The template includes few sections: Project description, table with Papers, Literature notes and Literature Tracker. Categories.

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