This is Linköping university library’s guide to systematic literature reviews. Scientific literature reviews are generally aimed at providing an idea of what has already been written in a field of research, which research methods have been used, which theories have been developed in relation to observations carried out or which practical applications may be demonstrated with regard to research results – especially within medical research.
A literature review can be conducted in a variety of contexts such as
Two main categories of literature reviews may be distinguished:
The table below presents a comparison of the traditional and systematic review method.
Descriptive study to achieve broad understanding
Specified aim and review question, clearly delimited objectives.
|Planning the review
|No defined method of approach, allows for creativity and exploration
|Transparent process and documented audit trail
|Searching is probing, moving from one study to another, following up leads, ad hoc.
|Rigorous and comprehensive search for as many relevant studies as possible
|Selection of studies
|Purposive and goal-oriented selection on the part of the reviewer
|Predetermined criteria for including and excluding studies
|Based on the reviewer's judgment
|Checklists to assess the methodological quality of studies
|Analysis and synthesis
Short tabular summaries
Precondition for transparency
Source: Karolinska University Library (2021), with reference to Jesson, Matheson & Lacey, 2011.
LiU researchers and PhD students can consult a librarian, for example when doing a literature review for a dissertation or a systematic review. Together we will look at your specific research questions and discuss topics such as:
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