A literature review discusses published information such as scholarly articles, books and other sources (e.g. dissertations, conference proceedings) in a particular subject area, theory or time period. It may includes a summary or an overview The purpose is to offer an overview of significant literature published on a topic.
Definition and Use/Purpose:
A literature review may be a chapter of a thesis, a dissertation, or a self-contained review of writings on a subject. The literature review itself, however, does not present new primary scholarship.
Step 1: Define research topic = find a focus
The problems addressed by the review should be in clear, structured questions. Once the review questions have been set, modifications should be allowed only if alternative ways of defining the populations, interventions, outcomes or study designs become apparent.
Step 2: Identify relevant work
Read review articles. The search for studies should be extensive. Multiple resources should be searched without language restrictions. The study selection criteria should flow directly from the review questions and be specified a priori. Reasons for inclusion and exclusion should be recorded.
Step 3: Assess the quality of sources
Study quality assessment is relevant to every step of a review. Selected studies should get a critical appraisal and design-based quality checklists.
Step 4: Summarize the evidence
Data synthesis consists of study characteristics, quality and effects of statistical methods.
Step 5: Interpret the findings = keep your own voice
Be careful of bias, determine whether the overall summary can be trusted, and, if not, the effects observed in high-quality studies should be used for generating inferences.
Annual Reviews critically reviews significant primary research literature. Each article provides a gateway to the essential primary research literature referenced within each topic.
BIOSIS Previews: enter your search, use limit to "Literature Types" and Review (if available).
Coverage: 1926 - present
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: enter your search, limit to review.
Coverage: date varies | Some full text |
Embase: enter your search, left menu, use limit to "Literature types" and select reivew / apply.
Embase is a key resource for systematic reviews and researching evidence-based medicine. Coverage: dates vary
PubMed: enter your search, select filter - 'review'. Includes Systematic Reviews search limit, and peer review. (Guide: HTML | PDF).
Covers: 1946 - present