Skip to main content
The HS/HSL is a part of the University of Maryland, Baltimore | My UMB The Elm UM Shuttle Google Apps@UMaryland Blackboard

601 West Lombard Street
Baltimore MD 21201-1512

Reference: 410-706-7996
Circulation: 410-706-7928

Systematic Review Service

Review Types

According to Maria J. Grant and Andrew Booth, "the expansion of evidence-based practice across sectors has lead to an increasing variety of review types."  

Some review types have explicit methods (i.e. systematic reviews) while others have more ambiguous methodologies.  

If you plan to conduct a review of the literature, it is important to determine which type of review is most appropriate for your purposes. This guide contains brief descriptions of common review types in the health and social sciences, as well as resources for more in depth information.

Literature Reviews

A literature review is an account of what has been published by scholars and researchers, on a particular topic. You may be asked to write one as an assignment for class, or you may be writing one as part of the introduction to a research article or dissertation. In writing your literature review, you will identify the theories and previous research which have influenced your topic area. - Dena Bain Taylor

A literature review should:

  • Tell the reader what is known, or not known, about a particular issue/topic/subject
  • Demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of a topic
  • Establish context or background for your argument
  • Help you develop your own ideas and perspective


Scoping Reviews

A scoping review "provides a preliminary assessment of the potential size and scope of available research literature. It aims to identify the nature and extent of research evidence." (Grant & Booth, 2009) These reviews, also called mapping reviews or scoping studies, can be used to identify key concepts within a field and clarify definitions in terminology. Scoping reviews can be useful for examining emerging evidence in instances when it is unclear what specific question should be addressed. This makes scoping reviews a good approach for laying the foundation for future systematic reviews. (Peters et al., 2017)

The Scoping Review Process (Arksey & O'Malley, 2005; Peters e al., 2015)

  • Defining the research question
  • Searching the evidence
  • Selecting the evidence
  • Extracting or "charting" the data
  • Summarizing and reporting the evidence

Authors of scoping reviews may find it helpful to use the PCC (population, concept, context) framework when formulating a research question. The JBI template may be used to plan your review and develop a protocol.


Rapid Reviews

Rapid reviews aim to be rigorous in their methodology, similar to a systematic review, but set limits on the process in order to shorten the timeframe of review completion (Grant & Booth 2009). Several stages of the review process may be limited, including the scope of the question, the comprehensiveness of the search strategy, or the quality appraisal. The review authors explore the effects these limited methods may have had on the results.