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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 can help determine whether a full systematic review is justified, but do not generally include any quality assessment, so cannot be used to recommend changes in practice or policy.

The Scoping Review Process (Arksey & O'Malley, 2005)

  • Identifying the research question
  • Identifying relevant studies
  • Study selection
  • Charting the data
  • Collating, summarizing, and reporting the results

The scoping review is a highly iterative process. The search process, study selection, and analysis may require several iterations to fully develop the review and get the most useful information.


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.