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Literature Reviews: An Overview

Types of Literature Reviews

Systematic literature review

Implemented in response to specific questions about clinical practice; designation of criteria for including/excluding literature is important part of this type of review.

Purpose: aims at producing an inclusive list of the entire literature on a topic; set apart the literature on a topic based on predefined criteria; assess and synthesize these sources

Traditional or narrative review

Summarizes, synthesizes and discusses literature on chosen topic; selective with regard to sources included.

Purpose: to give a comprehensive overview of the literature in a chosen area; to identify gaps in existing research; to develop conceptual framework; to refine research topic/question

(Cronin et al. 2008, 38)

Questions your lit review should answer

  • Why is this subject important?
  • Who else thinks it is important?
  • Who has worked on this subject before?
  • Who has done something similar to what I am doing?
  • What can be adapted to my own study?
  • What are the gaps in the research?
  • Who is going to use my material?
  • What use will my project be?
  • What will my contribution be?
  • What specific question will I answer?
  • What specific questions will my research not be able to address?

(Murray 2006:115)