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Michigan State University

Conducting a Literature Review

Step by step guide on how to conduct a literature review.


There are many types of literature reviews, but all should follow a similar search process.  Below are a few types of literature reviews, as well as definitions and examples. Much of this information can be found in the article A Typology of Reviews: An Analysis of 14 Review Types and Associated Methodologies.

Literature Review: This is a generic term that can cover a wide range of subjects, and varies in completeness and comprehensiveness. They are typically narrative, and analysis may be chronological, conceptual, thematic, or however the author decides to organize the material.  Addressing the burden of stroke caregivers: a literature review

Scoping Review: A preliminary assessment of the size and scope of available published literature. A scoping review is intended to identify current research and the extent of such research, and determine if a more comprehensive review is viable. Can include research in progress, and the completeness of searching is determined by time/scope. Social isolation, loneliness and health in old age: a scoping review

Mapping Review: Looks at existing literature and maps out future directions and current gaps in the research literature. Search may be determined by time/scope. Classification of Mild Stroke: A Mapping Review

Rapid Review: Assessment of what is already known about a policy or practice issue. Uses systematic review methods to search and critically evaluate existing research, but search is limited by time constraints. The Current State Of Telehealth Evidence: A Rapid Review

State-of-the-art/state-of-the-literature review: Addresses current matters as opposed to other types of reviews that address retrospective and current approaches. Comprehensive searching of the literature, and looks for current state of knowledge and sets priorities for future investigation and research. Artificial Intelligence for the Otolaryngologist: A State of the Art Review

Integrative Review: Combines empirical and theoretical research to examine research on a given area. Includes non-experimental research, and can include case studies, observational studies, theories, guidelines, etc., and is generally used to inform healthcare policy and practice. An Integrative Review of Yoga and Mindfulness-Based Approaches for Children and Adolescents with Asthma

Systematic Review: Seeks to systematically search, appraise, and synthesize research evidence. Requires exhaustive, comprehensive searching, including searching of grey literature. Effectiveness of paediatric occupational therapy for children with disabilities: A systematic review

Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis: Includes all of systematic review, but requires quantitative analysis for the meta-analysis piece. Management of paediatric obstructive sleep apnoea: A systematic review and network meta-analysis

Umbrella Review: Specifically refers to searching for reviews only-usually systematic reviews only. Should discuss what is known, unknown, and recommendations for future research. Patient- and family-centered care interventions for improving the quality of health care: A review of systematic reviews

Which Type of Review Should I Do?

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