Not to be confused with a book review, a literature review surveys 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. The purpose is to offer an overview of significant literature published on a topic.
Systematic reviews are reviews of high-quality randomized controlled trials often crucial to evidence-based medicine. Systematic reviews are common to all sciences where data are collected, published in the literature, and an assessment of methodological quality for a precisely defined subject would be helpful.
Ten Simple Rules for doing a Systemic Review. Pautasso, Marco. “Ten Simple Rules for Writing a Literature Review.” Ed. Philip E. Bourne. PLoS Computational Biology 9.7 (2013): e1003149. PMC. Web. 27 July 2016.
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, Shannon Kealey.
Each article provides essential primary research literature referenced within each topic.
Limit to literature reviews in left menu.
Coverage: 1926 - present
Databases of evidence to inform decision-making.
Coverage: date varies | Some full text
Key resource for conducting systematic reviews and researching evidence-based medicine.
Coverage: dates vary
Components: four stages:
Literature reviews should comprise the following elements:
In assessing each piece, consider:
Definition and Use/Purpose
A literature review may constitute an essential chapter of a thesis or dissertation, or may be a self-contained review of writings on a subject.
In either case, it should:
The literature review itself, however, does not present new primary scholarship.