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Systematic Reviews for Social Sciences

Review Planning

An initial step in planning a literature review project is deciding on the type of review you will use. The resources below provide overviews of different review types you might use and the related considerations.

Types of Reviews

'Literature review' is a generic term that is often used to describe a range of different review types. Listed below are some common review types with brief descriptions for a quick comparison of characteristics.

  • Narrative Review 
    Identifies and synthesizes a range of sources and may incorporate a 'systematized approach.'
  • Meta-Analysis 
    Uses statistical methods to evaluate relevant research studies and may be part of a systematic review.
  • Rapid Review 
    Applies systematic review methods but sets a time limit on locating and appraising sources for a shorten timeframe.
  • Scoping Review 
    Explores research questions to map key concepts, evidence, and gaps in the literature and may take longer to complete than a systematic review,
  • Systematic Review 
    Aims to be comprehensive, adheres to transparent procedures, and provides evidence synthesis that can be used in intervention decisions and policy making.
  • Systematized Review 
    Incorporates some systematic review procedures that can be included as part of a narrative (traditional) review.
  • Umbrella Review 
    Compiles evidence from multiple reviews based on a broad problem for which there are competing interventions.