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Library Orientation for Nursing

This information was developed for nurses conducting research via the Emory Libraries

Review Articles

The types of reviews most commonly done in the health sciences are:

Traditional or narrative literature review - aka Review Article (example: PMID 24824020)

A review article summarizes experts' various thoughts, ideas and viewpoints about a particular field of study and places the recent research in context. It provides an overview and identifies gaps or inconsistencies in a body of knowledge. It summarizes arguments from various sources pointing out strengths and weaknesses of their arguments, in fact, sources may contradict each other. 

Many databases have limits or filters to search for review articles. You can also search by keywords like review article, overview, summary, etc.

Systematic reviews (example: PMID 29514480)

A systematic review attempts to collate or synthesize all empirical evidence that fits pre-specified eligibility criteria to answer a specific research question.  It uses rigorous and well-defined methods that are selected with a view to minimizing bias, thus providing more reliable findings from which conclusions can be drawn and decisions made. This type of review will provide details the time frame within which the literature was selected and the methods used to search for, evaluate and synthesize the findings of the studies in question. A systematic review may include a meta-analysis.

Meta-Analysis (example: PMID 29979221)

A meta-analysis is a form of research study that takes findings from two or more separate studies on the same subject and analyzes them using standardized statistical procedures. This allows investigators to detect patterns and relationships and answer questions not posed by individual studies. A meta-analysis may be done as part of a systematic review.

Conference proceedings, abstracts and reports (example: ACM proceedings)

Conference articles are presented and published much more quickly than scholarly articles and offer insight into research that is currently underway which may not yet be published in a peer-reviewed journal.. You can find conference papers in many of the same databases as scholarly articles, but the best way to find them may be an internet search.  Because they usually have not been officially published in a peer-reviewed journal, they may be defined as "grey literature".

About Literature Reviews

What is a literature review?

A literature review does not present an original argument.

The purpose is to provide an overview of what is known about the topic and to evaluate the strength of the evidence on that topic. It usually contains a summary, a synthesis, or an analysis of the key arguments in the existing literature. The literature may come from books, articles, reports, or other formats.  Sources may even contradict each other.  A literature review also helps distinguish what research has been done and identify what needs further research.

You will review...

  • The current status of the knowledge or research about a topic, question or field
  • The theoretical approach(es) used in studying this particular topic or question
  • The data collection tools and procedures used and their implications on the body of knowledge
  • The future direction(s) on a topic in terms of theory, methodology, questions for further study, and so on