In this post, I discuss using Google Forms to organize a literature review with co-authors. Google Forms is designed to be used as survey software, but I have found it works for article reviews as well. Google Forms gathers responses to form fields and sends that data to a Google Sheet. It’s not complicated, but the beauty is that if you are working with multiple collaborators, all the data goes into the same place and in the same format.
Keep you data consistent
One of the challenges of gathering data with other researchers is achieving consistency and version control across users. Google Forms allows you to pre-set the type of answers that are acceptable, whether it be paragraph text, numbers, drop-down menues, or other types of data.
In the screenshot below, I am working in the survey field editor. You can see a form field with pre-set choices for the type of article: theory, practice, or teaching. Each form is editable and you can enable as many people as you wish to have various levels of permission in terms of changing, duplicating, or inviting others to collaborate.
For articles I’m reading for literature reviews, I use the following form field headers:
- Research Question
- Contribution to the Literature
- Main Argument or Findings
- Research Design & Data Sources
- Theoretical Approach
- Implications for Theory or Practice
- Additional Research Cited
- My Thoughts
Once you’ve created your form field questions to gather the information you want, just begin filling our the form. In the case of literature reviews, I use one form per citation.
You can preview the entered data either directly in the Google Sheets or use the summary tools Google provides in the Forms application which are formatted for easy viewing of the data in each form field.
If you want to use Google Forms in conjunction with other applications, you can browse Google approved Ad-ons or create your own workflows. One workflow I created was to send each form entry (article review) to my Evernote email address which automatically populates to Evernote notes. Of course you can also export the data to other formats such as Excel.
Google allows you to customize your forms in both appearance and content. For example, in the screenshot below you can see I selected a gray-green header with a light gray background for my form. The dropdown box provides additional color palette options. You can also change the font size and style.
Now, all that is left is to write #acwri