Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Literature Review: Lit Review Types

Types of literature Reviews

[For a compiled list of review types, see: "Meeting the review family: exploring review types and associated information retrieval requirements" : ]

Traditional or Narrative literature Review

  • Critiques and summarizes a body of literature
  • Draws conclusions about the topic
  • Identifies gaps or inconsistencies in a body of knowledge
  • Requires a sufficiently focused research question


  • A large number of studies may make it difficult to draw conclusions
  • The process is subject to bias that supports the researcher's own work.

Systematic Literature Review

  • More rigorous and well-defined approach
  • Comprehensive
  • Published and unpublished studies relating to a particular subject area
  • Details the time frame within which the literature was selected
  • Details the methods used to evaluate and synthesize findings of the studies in question

Example of systematic review


  • A form of systematic review (reductive)
  • Takes findings from several studies on the same subject and analyzes them using standardized statistical procedures
  • Integrates findings from a large body of quantitative findings to enhance under-standing (study=unit of analysis)
  • Draws conclusions and detect patterns and relationships

Example of meta-analysis


  • Non-statistical technique
  • Integrates, evaluates and interprets findings of multiple qualitative research studies
  • Identifies common core elements and themes
  • May use findings from phenomenological, grounded theory or ethnographic studies
  • Involves analyzing and synthesizing key elements
  • Goal:  transform individual findings into new conceptualizations and interpretations

Example of meta-synthesis

Systematic Review Resources