LITERATURE REVIEWS survey scholarly articles, books and other sources (e.g. dissertations, conference proceedings) relevant to a particular issue, area of research, or theory, providing a description, summary, and critical evaluation of each work.
SYSTEMATIC REVIEW reviews literature focused on a research question that identifies, appraises, selects and synthesizes all quality research evidence relevant to that question. Systematic reviews of high-quality randomized controlled trials are crucial to evidence-based medicine.
Similar to primary research, development of the literature review has four stages:
Literature reviews should include the following elements:
In assessing each piece, consider:
Definition and Use/Purpose:
A literature review may be a chapter of a thesis or dissertation, or may be a self-contained review of writings on a subject. In either case, its purpose is to:
The literature review itself, however, does not present new primary scholarship.
1. Define a topic and audience:
must be interesting to you
an important aspect of the field
a well-defined issue
2. Search and Re-Search the Literature:
3. Take NOTES while reading
4. Choose the type of review to write:
5. Keep the review focused, but broad interest. (could discuss other disciplines affected)
6. Be Critical and consistent:
A reader should have an idea of
- The major achievements in the reviewed field.
- The areas of debate.
- The outstanding research questions.
7. Find a logical structure.
It can be helpful to use a mind-map to draw a conceptual scheme of the review.
8. Make use of feedback. Can be peer-reviewed or someone reading a draft.
9. Include your own relevant research but be objective.
10. Be Up-to-date, do not forget older studies.
Original by Marco Pautasso. PLOS. July 2013, vol. 9, issue 7.
AVOID these traps:
Questions: Your Librarian, Susan Koskinen, email@example.com
Reviews primary research literature, provides a gateway to essential primary research literature referenced within topics.
enter your search, use limit to "Literature Types" and Review (if available). [1926 - present]
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews:
enter your search, limit to review. [dates vary | Some full text |]
enter your search, limit to "Literature types" and select review / apply. Key resource for systematic reviews and evidence-based medicine. [dates vary]
enter your search, select filter - 'review'. Includes Systematic Reviews. (Guide: HTML | PDF). [1946 - present]