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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Systematic Reviews

About Literature Reviews

There are many types of reviews of literature in addition to systematic reviews. You might want to consider an alternative if:

  • You do not have a focused research question (PICOT)
  • Your time is limited - Systematic reviews generally take between 12 and 18 months to complete
  • You don't have the manpower to complete a systematic review - typically teams of 4 to 5 individuals contribute to a systematic review
  • Your topic is more exploratory in nature

Literature Review

Generic term for published materials that provide examination of recent or current literature. Can cover wide range of subjects at various levels of completeness and comprehensiveness. May include research findings.

SEARCH may or may not be comprehensive

APPRAISAL may or may not include quality assessment

SYNTHESIS is narrative

ANALYSIS may be chronological, conceptual, thematic, etc.

From: A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Grant MJ & Booth A. Health information and Libraries Journal year: 2009 26(2):91 -108. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00848.x.

Critical Review

Aims to demonstrate writer has extensively research literature and critically evaluated its quality. Goes beyond mere description to include degree of analysis and conceptual innovation. Typically results in hypothesis or model.

SEARCH seeks to identify most significant items in the field

APPRAISAL attempts to evaluate according to contribution; no formal quality assessment.

SYNTHESIS is narrative, perhaps conceptual or chronological.

ANALYSIS seeks to identify conceptual contribution to embody existing or derive new theory.

From: A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Grant MJ & Booth A. Health information and Libraries Journal year: 2009 26(2):91 -108. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00848.x.

Mapping Review

Map out and categorize existing literature from which to commission further reviews and/or primary research by identifying gaps in research literature.

SEARCH is determined by time/scope constraints.

APPRAISAL does not include formal quality assessment

SYNTHESIS may be graphical and tabular.

ANALYSIS characterizes quantity and quality of literature, perhaps by study design and other key features. May identify need fo primary aor secondary research. Numerical analysis of measures of effect assuming absence of heterogeneity.

From: A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Grant MJ & Booth A. Health information and Libraries Journal year: 2009 26(2):91 -108. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00848.x.

Meta-analysis

A quantitative method of combining the results of independent studies (usually drawn from the published literature) and synthesizing summaries and conclusions which may be used to evaluate therapeutic effectiveness, plan new studies, etc., with application chiefly in the areas of research and medicine.

Source: MeSH: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/mesh/68015201

Technique that statistically combines the results of quantitative study to provide a more precise effect of the results.

SEARCH aims for exhaustive, comprehensive searching. May use funnel plot to assess completeness. requires either very sensitive search to retrieve all studies or separately conceived quantitative and qualitative strategies.

APPRAISAL includes quality assessment that may determine inclusion/exclusion and/or sensitivity analyses.

SYNTHESIS is graphical and tabular with narrative commentary.

ANALYSIS includes numerical analysis of measures of effect assuming absence of heterogeneity.

Source: A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Grant MJ & Booth A. Health information and Libraries Journal year: 2009 26(2):91 -108. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00848.x.

 

Narrative Review

Narrative Review

  • summarizes, synthesizes and critiques the body of literature on a specific issue or topic
  • provides context for research, identifies gaps in the literature, and situates research within an area of study
  • often included with introduction to research study
  • can be publication in its own right, and provides a deeper look at a specific issue or topic
  • Publication does not include methods

Rapid Review

Assessment of what is already known about a policy or practice issue, by using systematic review methods to search and critically appraise existing research.

SEARCH is determined by time constraints.

APPRAISAL is a time-limited formal quality assessment.

SYNTHESIS is narrative and tabular.

ANALYSIS includes quantities of literature and overall quality/direction of effect of literature.

Source: A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Grant MJ & Booth A. Health information and Libraries Journal year: 2009 26(2):91 -108. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00848.x.

Scoping Review

Preliminary assessment of potential size and scope of available research literature. Aims to identify nature and extent of research evidence (usually including ongoing research).
 

SEARCH is determined by time/scope constraints. May include research in progress.

APPRAISAL does not include formal quality assessment.

SYNTHESIS is tabular with some narrative commentary.

ANALYSIS characterizes quantity and quality of literature, perhaps by study design and other key features.

Source: A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Grant MJ & Booth A. Health information and Libraries Journal year: 2009 26(2):91 -108. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00848.x.

Systematic Review

Systematic Review

  • comprehensive review and analysis of literature related to a focused question
  • uses specific criteria for inclusion
  • reports search strategy and methods for inclusion/exclusion
  • inclusive studies address the same issue, in similar populations, in similar circumstances

Seeks to systematically search for, appraise and synthesize research evidence, often adhering to guidelines on the conduct of a review.

SEARCH aims for exhaustive, comprehensive searching.

APPRAISAL includes quality assessment that may determine inclusion/exclusion.

SYNTHESIS is narrative with tabular accompaniment.

ANALYSIS includes what is known; recommendations fo practice. What remains unknown; uncertainly around findings, recommendations for future research.

Source: A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Grant MJ & Booth A. Health information and Libraries Journal year: 2009 26(2):91 -108. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00848.x.

Umbrella Review

Specifically refers to review compiling evidence from multiple reviews into one accessible and usable document. Focuses on broad condition or problem for which there are competing interventions and highlights reviews that address these intervention and their results.

SEARCH incudes identification of component reviews, but no search for primary studies.

APPRAISAL includes quality assessment of studies within component reviews and/or of reviews themselves.

SYNTHESIS is graphical and tabular with narrative commentary.

ANALYSIS includes what is known; recommendations for practice. What remains unknown; recommendations for future research.

ource: A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Grant MJ & Booth A. Health information and Libraries Journal year: 2009 26(2):91 -108. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00848.x.