8 good reasons for doing your literature review using ATLAS.ti 8 Windows

The literature review stage is inevitable in any research process, in fact, it is a highly important stage in doing research. Not only literature review helps to build the researchers’ knowledge in the subject matter being investigated, it also allows the researchers to learn about previous researchers and methodologies – so as to avoid the researchers from duplicating an existing research! In due course, the researchers would be able to develop their own conceptual and theoretical frameworks, as well as the methodological focus for their own research at hand.

However, very often, people get stuck in doing the literature review. Most common problems are a lack of proper system to manage their literature, lack of proper system to manage the important points in their literature, and the writer’s block problem.

This article introduces 8 good reasons for doing literature review using ATLAS.ti 8 Windows.


ATLAS.ti belongs to the group of ‘Computer Aided Qualitative Data Analysis Software’ (CAQDAS) and developed by ATLAS.ti Scientific Software Development GmbH based in Berlin, Germany. ATLAS.ti has a wide range of users from many parts of the world, including Americas, Europe, Asia, Australasia, and many others. The most current version ATLAS.ti belongs to the group of ‘Computer Aided Qualitative Data Analysis Software’ (CAQDAS) and developed by ATLAS.ti Scientific Software Development GmbH based in Berlin, Germany. ATLAS.ti has a wide range of users from many parts of the world, including Americas, Europe, Asia, Australasia, and many others. The most current version to date – ATLAS.ti 8 Windows – contains amazing features to help with the literature review stage.


Listed below are the eight good reasons why I am a strong believer of the use of ATLAS.ti 8 Windows for your literature review purpose.

  1. Complete system for managing literature

ATLAS.ti provides a complete system for managing our diverse range of literature, comprising of various authors, journals, methodologies, themes, and other features. Its ‘Document Manager’ allows all our literature to be centrally stored at a single location within the software itself, which translates into easier retrieval and proper management of the literature (See Image 1). We can also preview the literature from the Document Manager and add in the description for the literature in the ‘Comments’ section of the said literature.

Image 1: Document Manager in ATLAS.ti


  1. Ability to import references from bibliographic reference managers

Are you using bibliographic reference managers (BRM), such as Mendeley, EndNote, RefWorks, or Zotero? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to so-called ‘transfer’ the references you stored in your BRM straight into ATLAS.ti for literature review, without having to locate the original location of the native PDF files of this literature? Well, now you can! Simply export your references in the BRM into EndNote XML format, and in ATLAS.ti, import the XML file as Documents in ATLAS.ti – with a single mouse-click! (See Image 2) The best part? ATLAS.ti will help to group your literature into specific groups based on shared characteristics such as author, publication year, journal title, and the like! (See Image 3)

Image 2: Importing literature from bibliographic reference managers

Image 3: Document groups in ATLAS.ti

  1. The ‘pen and paper’ concept enables reading the literature in context

Are you still using the pen and paper to read literature, highlighting the important points and scribbling comments or ideas on the paper? Are you advocating that you are the ‘pen and paper’ sort of researchers? Guess what? ATLAS.ti also advocates the same! The interface of ATLAS.ti maintains the pen and paper concept so that you will retain the same feeling reading through your literature in ATLAS.ti as how you would be reading anyway, traditionally. (See Image 4)

Image 4: ‘Pen and paper’ concept in ATLAS.ti


  1. Complete system for managing important points in the literature

Now, how many times when you read an article, and you find a familiar point, then you ask yourselves: “I think I have read this somewhere, but I cannot remember where?” This is a very common question if you do not have a system for managing the important points in the literature. No issue at all in ATLAS.ti. The ‘Code Manager’ helps with the coding a.k.a. tagging a.k.a. labeling of the important points in the literature – and presents itself in context (See Image 5). This rule applies similarly if you are doing coding from a list of codes (deductive coding) or open coding (inductive coding) (See Image 6).

Image 5: Code Manager in ATLAS.ti

Image 6: Deductive and inductive codings in context


  1. Exploration of key concepts in the literature

Do you have fresh literature that you have searched and collected, or are you doing cold research on a subject matter new to you? It would be great to have a helicopter view of the word frequency used in the literature (or groups of literature) so as to give you an exploration of the key concepts used in the literature. You can either generate a word frequency table using the ‘Word Crunch’ feature in ATLAS.ti (See Image 7), or a visual word cloud using the ‘Word Cloud’ feature (See Image 8).

Image 7: Word Crunch in ATLAS.ti

Image 8: Word Cloud in ATLAS.ti


  1. Exploration of context in which the key concepts are used

Following up from point (5) above, now that you have a general idea of the word frequency in the literature, let us explore the context in which the key concepts are used in the literature itself. By using the ‘Autocoding’ feature in ATLAS.ti (See Image 9), you would be able to get ATLAS.ti to: – search for that specific keyword – in all (or one of, or some) of our literature – highlight the sentence (or word, or paragraph) containing that keyword – code it (or tag it, or label it) with a specific code name.

Image 9: Autocoding feature in ATLAS.ti


  1. Conceptualise your entire literature review in visual form

OK, we have now gone through all (or some of) our literature in ATLAS.ti. We can conceptualise the entire reading of the literature in visual form using the ‘Network view’ feature in ATLAS.ti. We can import various elements into the Network view, such as Codes, Quotations, Memos, Documents, and others (See Image 10). This would definitely make it easier for you to make sense of your reading, and further, examine and understand the various concepts making up your literature review write up.

Image 10: Sample Network view in ATLAS.ti


  1. Retrieval of important points upon demand

If you would prefer the textual format of the important points from your literature, rather than the visual format as in the Network views, no issue at all! You can generate a report to retrieve all (or some of) the important points in your literature upon demand – by giving the instructions to ATLAS.ti in only a few clicks (See Image 11). The textual output can either be saved in .PDF or .DOC formats.

Image 11: Textual report from ATLAS.ti



These eight reasons are only a fraction of the many cool features of ATLAS.ti 8 Windows that can help with our literature review process. I handpicked these eight features of ATLAS.ti to give you an overview of what you can expect from this amazing software. Hopefully, you would agree with me that indeed ATLAS.ti holds a strong potential for helping us with our literature review.


To learn more tips and tricks about ATLAS.ti for both literature review and qualitative analysis, follow the author at her website: http://www.ATLAStiMalaysia.com and subscribe to her Youtube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/animunirah.

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Ani Munirah

Ani Munirah holds a PhD in Law from Universiti Teknologi MARA Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia. Her research interest are cyber law, ICT law, and research methodologies. Earlier, she graduated from the ...

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    • This an eye opener on the available modern technique that can be employed to organize and synchronize literature. The graphical display of procedures makes the usage of the software looks simple. Is there a website link where the software can be download for free?

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