Question & Answer
Doing Qualitative Research Using Your Computer:
A Practical Guide
(Sage Publications)

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Tips for a Literature Review Database in Access

If you are comfortable with Access and you don't want to spend the money for EndNote or a similar product (see pages 44-45) you might want to consider using Access to store articles, your notes, and citation data related to your literature review.

Question: I have been trying to use Access to develop a literature review database but have been unsuccessful so far because of the limits of characters for quotations. I thought it would be useful because I could develop themes in the literature which might support arguments as the research unfolds.

Answer: You are probably trying to enter your literature review quotations in a database field that is formatted as a "text" field. Text fields are limited to 255 characters. If this is the case, the solution is to change the field's data type from "text" to "memo". Memo fields are relatively huge, storing up to 65,536 characters. For tips about changing from one data type to another, search Microsoft Access' Help for "change data type".

You can also write your thoughts/reviews in memo fields (or paste them into a memo field). Note: In memo fields you can search and filter only on the first 255 characters.

The "OLE Object" data type can be useful for a literature review database. OLE Object fields allow you to directly store .pdf files, pictures, video clips, as well as all forms of Office documents. This means that virtually all of your digitally-stored literature can be available directly from your database; thus eliminating the need to search frantically for "lost" articles. OLE stands for Object Linking and Embedding.

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