There are several types of literature reviews that you can write. Depending on the area of study, as well as the goal of the study, you can pick a type that helps you clearly answer your specific focus question in the best way possible.
Sometimes, the area of study may also dictate the kind of literature review that you can write. All said the bottom line is to ensure that you show a ‘gap’ in the existing studies, and come up with a ‘seal’ to that gap that is viable. Below are the widely acceptable types of lit reviews that you can use:
Systematic Literature Review
Here, you use a well-formulated question to investigate and write your lit review based on systematic methods that can be easily replicated by others to come to the same results and conclusions. It uses all published and unpublished sources available. The systematic lit review is of two types; quantitative and the qualitative reviews:
Systematic Quantitative Literature Review
This one uses other studies’ numerical data as the source of your gap-filling information.
Systematic Qualitative Literature Review
This systematic review uses data harvested from observations, interviews and interactions that are verbal. It examines the actual interpretations of the sample research participants.
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Traditional Narrative Literature Review
Unlike a systematic review, a narrative review uses a select few sources from relevant databases. It is very selective in general, only using sources that are extremely relevant to the review. It’s thus open to suggestions of bias since it may not be very thorough.
This traditional review is also not very open to the reader on the literature that was used. It simply gives a comprehensive overview of the topic, with a matching summary and critique of the same to show a gap in the research, which is the main purpose of these types of reviews.
These reviews are very similar to systematic reviews. The only difference is that they append no restrictions to the materials resourced. They employ a ‘find all sources’ approach to try and get all the materials that relate to the topic in question.
Importantly so, is that you need to apply a systematic process to ensure that your search strategies are replicate-able while also filling in any gaps in the previous researches, and also while keeping to proper organization and good theme sorting.
These internationally recognized reviews are mainly used in human health and care policies. They are simply, the highest level of evidence-based research methods used in human care to investigate treatment, preventions and rehabilitation.
Besides direct interventions as indicated above, these lit reviews are used to assess how accurate a diagnostic test is based on outlined conditions for specific patient settings and groups.
At the basics, these reviews are also systematic reviews, only that they are the highest standard of it primarily for the medical studies field of research.
Although not really a literature review per se, the Campbell collaboration is simply a network of researchers that produce systematic reviews across the globe. These reviews cut across the fields of international development, crime and justice, social welfare and education as social interventions.
As earlier insinuated, the different types of literature reviews that you may be required to conduct are heavily informed by the area of study. However, they all have one thing in common; they try to answer a very specific and focused question that tries to fill a research gap that was left out by previous researchers. Be guided by your area of study, as well as the team you wish to collaborate with in your lit review to ensure that you pick the right type of lit review for your specific case.