Researchers, academics and librarians all use various terms to describe different types of literature reviews. Indeed there is often inconsistency between the ways the types are discussed. Here are a couple of simple explanations.
The image below describes common review types in terms of speed, detail, risk of bias and comprehensiveness:
"Schematic of the main differences between the types of literature review" by Brennan, M. L., Arlt, S. P., Belshaw, Z., Buckley, L., Corah, L., Doit, H., Fajt, V. R., Grindlay, D., Moberly, H. K., Morrow, L. D., Stavisky, J., & White, C. (2020). Critically Appraised Topics (CATs) in veterinary medicine: Applying evidence in clinical practice. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 7, 314. https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2020.00314 is licensed under CC BY 3.0
The table below has been adapted from a widely used typology of fourteen types of reviews, (Grant & Booth, 2009). Here are four of the most common types:
|NO. OF REVIEWERS
|Seeks to systematically search for, appraise and synthesise research evidence in order to aid decision-making and determine best practice. Systematic reviews can vary in their approach, and are often specific to the type of study: studies of effectiveness, qualitative research, economic evaluation, prevalence, aetiology or risk, diagnostic test accuracy and so on.
|8 months to 2 years
|2 or more
|Assesses what is known about an issue by using a systematic review method to search and appraise research and determine best practice.
|Assesses the potential scope of the research literature on a particular topic. Helps determine gaps in the research.
|Traditional (narrative) literature review
|A generic review which identifies and reviews published literature on a topic, which may be broad. Typically employs a narrative approach to reporting the review findings. Can include a wide range of related subjects.
For a more detailed list of review types, see:
Grant, M.J. & Booth, A. (2009). A typology of reviews: An analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Health Information & Libraries Journal, 26(2), 91-108. DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00848.x
The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) outlines standards of practice completing a systematic review to ensure consistency and high-quality results.
Techniques from the PRISMA process can also be used with other types of reviews to have a systematic process for searching and evaluating results.
LibKey Nomad is a browser extension that connects you with articles that are library-licensed or open access. LibKey Nomad is available for Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Microsoft Edge, Brave, and Vivaldi.
Here is a short demonstration of how it works:
When using LibKey Nomad, you will automatically be directed to the best available version of an article so you don't need to search in multiple places. When the full text of an article is not available, you will be provided with options to request the article through Interlibrary Loan (ILL).
LibKey Nomad does not require you to create a personal account. It does not track users or hold credentials, and it is only active when you are on the web page of a scholarly publisher or database.
When you're browsing publisher sites and other web pages, LibKey Nomad provides a link to download the PDF of an article available through the JMU Libraries. It is not necessary to first connect through the JMU Libraries website. If the full text of the article is not available through the JMU Libraries subscriptions, an "Access Options" button will appear, and you will see options for requesting the article through ILL. See example in the image below.
LibKey Nomad also works with Wikipedia. When you're viewing the list of references for an entry, a "Download PDF" button will appear after the citations, if the full text of the article is available from JMU Libraries. An "Article Link" button may appear for citations that are from sources that do not support linking directly to the PDF. For articles not available from JMU Libraries, an "Access Options..." button will appear that provides options for requesting the articles through ILL. See example in the image below.
When you're searching PubMed, LibKey Nomad shows options for downloading a PDF, linking to an article, or additional access options. You can also view the cover images of the journals that articles appear in. LibKey Nomad also provides a link to the complete issue of a journal. Click "View Complete Issue" to browse the table of contents for the issue in which an article appears, helping you find similar articles from the same publication. See example in the image below.