Skip to main content

Literature Review: Types of Lit Reviews

This guide will introduce you to the methods of doing a literature review.

Types of Literature Reviews

There are four main types of literature reviews:

Narrative or Traditional

  • Summarizes and analyzes a body of literature on a particular subject. This type of lit review is useful for providing background and overview and for illuminating areas for further research. The least methodologically rigorous type of lit review makes this type appropriate for academic courses and can be helpful in focusing a topic and in further refining a research question.
  • Example article:

Aphramor, L. (2010). Validity of claims made in weight management research: a narrative review of dietetic articles. Nutrition Journal, 930-38.

Systematic

  • Employs strict methodology and selection criteria to address a clearly defined research question. Systematic reviews include as many relevant published and unpublished studies as possible using careful evaluation for quality, rigorous methods to limit bias, and strict controls to avoid selective inclusion or exclusion. Multiple reviewers are common and methods are carefully detailed for replicability.
  • Example article (log into Esearch for access):

Bandera, E.V., Kushi, L.H., Moore, D. F., Gifkins, D.M., McCullough, M.L. (2007, November). Consumption of animal foods and endometrial cancer risk: A systematic literature review and meta-analysis. Cancer Causes & Controls, 18(9), 967-988. 

Meta-analysis 

  • A type of quantitative systematic literature review which involves statistical analysis of multiple research studies to reveal patterns, relationships, and to integrate findings from many studies on the same subject.
  • Example article (log into Esearch for access):

Faragher, E.B., Cass, M., & Cooper, C.L. (2005, February). The relationship between job satisfaction and health: A meta-analysis. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 62(2), 105-112.

Meta-synthesis

  • A type of non-statistical review which analyzes and synthesizes qualitative research studies to locate common elements, themes, and core similarities to build theory and develop new conceptualizations.
  • Example article (log into Esearch for access):

Priddis, H., Dahlen, H., Schmied, V. (2013, April).Women’s experiences following severe perineal trauma: a metaethnographic synthesis. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 69(4), 748–759. doi: 10.1111/jan.12005