types of literature review

types of literature review

Types of Literature Review

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1. Introduction

Besides enlarging your knowledge about the topic, writing a literature review lets you gain and demonstrate skills in two areas: information seeking and critical appraisal and analysis. Information seeking involves the ability to scan the literature efficiently, using manual or computerized methods, to identify a set of useful articles and books. Critical appraisal and analysis involve the ability to apply principles of analysis to identify unbiased and valid studies.

A literature review is an account of what has been published on a topic by accredited scholars and researchers. In writing the literature review for the dissertation, your purpose is to convey to your reader what knowledge and ideas have been established on a topic and what their strengths and weaknesses are. As a piece of writing, the literature review must be defined by a guiding concept (e.g., your research objective, the problem or issue you are discussing, or your argumentative thesis). It is not just a descriptive list of the material available, or a set of summaries.

2. Systematic literature review

According to Tranfield et al. (2003), a systematic literature review is a means to rigorously identify, evaluate, and interpret existing research that is relevant to a particular field or topic. This crucial step in the identification of an area of study for your research serves to avoid duplication of existing research. It also assists in the identification of the scope and nature of the problem and gives an overall insight into the research focused. In this way, the SRR can be viewed as a work package to simply getting to know what already lies within the problem area. By knowing what lies ahead, the likelihood of failure is lessened, and a clearer decision on the specific problem that the research is relevant to is more attainable. This, in turn, makes the findings and end result more valid and relevant to the initial problem.

3. Narrative literature review

A narrative review is just like telling a bedtime story. It is easier, there is no specific pattern or how to start and stop it. It’s like riding a bicycle, just hop on and go. You can also tell a grim story about good and bad if the literature has pros and cons, or tell a story with a happy ending if all the literature has the same purpose. But in the process, the power of a narrative review lies in its ability to be persuasive. This type of review can take what feels like a random yellow brick road of scattered research and turn it into a cohesive analysis of the literature. In a bedtime story case, you can make any type of story in one book as an alternative to the literature, and it can make sense. This will be easier for readers to understand the overview of your analysis compared to other methods, and leave a greater impression on audiences. But make sure you are not telling any fable while ignoring the truth of the literature content. It is just the same as making a biased analysis of the literature.

A narrative or traditional literature review is a review of the literature on a specific topic. It analyzes the sources and includes information about the sources themselves. For instance, you could use a table to display the key findings from each of the articles and report the author’s qualifications, experience level, and conclusions drawn. A narrative review gives the writer free rein to cover any topics that he/she feels are important in the understanding of the topic, and is generally untethered to form. Due to this freeform quality, a narrative provides a much richer and detailed description. This method is helpful for students who aren’t quite sure how to piece together a review of the material in the social sciences, for instance. The writer has more freedom to do a more qualitative review of the material, something humanities students might be more comfortable with.

4. Scoping literature review

The scoping review does not answer a specific clinical query. It differs from the systematic review in that it typically addresses broader topic areas by searching for and identifying the nature and extent of research evidence available. In the case of this study, the literature on research utilization is so diverse and spread across so many fields, that a scoping review is the most appropriate way to tackle the research questions. (Formulate this more as a scoping imbues the research process in order to narrow down relevant research). A scoping approach would also identify and analyze research traditions and consider where it is that the range of different research approaches has been most successful. Due to the particular breadth and diversity of our topic area, scoping must be carried out in order to narrow down research areas, and identify where and what kind of research has been done and to determine its potential utility. A key aspect of scoping involves consultation and collaboration with others who are knowledgeable about the research topic. This can be done through informal contact with experts, or more systematic methods such as focus groups or surveys. As members of the CARN Int group, we believe a scoping approach with a member checking process would allow maximum input from those immersed in the research topic. Using scoping methods, we hope to identify potential stakeholders in the research. This could aid the further development of research utilization allowing stakeholder involvement in the research process itself.

5. Meta-analysis

A meta-analysis is typically a systematic review that uses quantitative methods to synthesize and summarize results from a set of studies. The main advantage of this approach is that it makes it possible to indirectly compare findings from different areas and assess where findings are consistent and where they differ. An essential feature of meta-analysis is that it provides an estimate of the size of effect (the difference between experimental and control group) in addition to a test of its statistical significance. This information can be used to compare the relative effectiveness of interventions and can inform decisions about the importance of applying interventions in various contexts. Another advantage of meta-analysis is that it serves to resolve a controversy in the literature by providing evidence that is more precise than is available from individual studies. Finally, meta-analysis can also be used to identify new directions for research and to inform the design of future studies.

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