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Engineering -- Computer Science

A guide to computer science resources in UVic Libraries

Types of Literature Reviews

  1. Traditional/narrative.  This type of review critiques and summaries a body of literature and draws conclusions about the topic in question. Cronin, P. BJN, 2008, vol 17, No 1 p. 38-39. 
  2. Systematic literature review.  These reviews use a rigorous and well-defined approach to reviewing the literature in a specific subject area. Cronin, P. BJN, 2008, Vol 17, No 1 p.42
  3. Scoping reviews aim to map the key concepts underpinning a research area and the main sources and types of evidence available. They provide wide coverage of the literature but can vary enormously in the degree to which they extract, analyse and represent the available evidence. Arksey, H.& O'Malley, 2005, "Scoping studies: towards a methodological framework,"
  4. Meta-analysis.  A form of systematic review which is largely a statistical technique.  It takes findings from several studies on the same subject and analyses them using stardardized statistical procedures. Cronin, P. BJN, 2008, Vol 17, No 1 p.42
  5. Meta-synthesis.  A non-statistical technique used to integrate, evaluate and interpret the findings of multiple qualitative research studies. Cronin, P. BJN, 2008, Vol 17, No 1 p.42
  6. Rapid evidence reviews are used to summarise the available research within the constraints of a given timetable, typically three months or less.  Consequently there are limitations on the extent of the searches and other review activities and should be viewed as provisional appraisals rather than full systematic reviews. Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, 2009,"Systematic Reviews"

How to Write a Literature Review

Organizing the Literature Review

Various approaches can be used to organize the review.

  1. Themes or Categories - this is popular and allows integration of theoretical and empirical(research) literature.
  2. Chronological - can demostrate the emergence of a topic over time.
  3. Theoretical/Methodological - this method allows for discussion of the theoretical literatures followed by exploration of methodological literature to indicate why a particle research design might be appropriate for the topic.  Useful when there is little empirical(research) literature. 
  4. Theoretical and Methodological in two sections - allows both types to be discussed separately.  May be more of a descriptive rather than a critical review.

Adapted from Cronin, P. BJN, 2008, Vol 17, No 1 p.42

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