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Clinical and Research Support


Narrative Review

Type of literature review in which the articles are discussed around an organising theme in a user friendly format.

May not use or report formal methodology.

Narrative and literature reviews draw more on the reviewers experience than on formal critical appraisal. They are intended to give an overview or introduction to a topic, rather than guiding practice.

Literature Review

Generic term for published materials that provide examination of recent or current literature.

Implies but does not require some adherence to process and structure (and reports same).

Can cover wide range of subjects at various  levels of completeness and comprehensiveness.

Scoping review

Identify and map literature in a field.

Describe the evidence rather than answering a clinical question.

No formal quality assessment but still done with systematic method.

Often done in preparation for more focused research.

Rapid Review

Assessment of what is already known about a policy or practice issue, using systematic review methods.

Much quicker timeframe hence less rigour.

Used for time constrained  projects

Systematic Review

Seeks to systematically search for, appraise and synthesis research evidence.

Aims for exhaustive, comprehensive searching and elimination of bias in evaluation of results.

Requires a high degree of rigour/


Systematic review with additional statistical technique that combines the results of multiple quantitative studies to provide a more meaningful measure of effects.

Umbrella review

Also known as  a Review of Reviews.

Summarizes results from multiple systematic reviews on a topic.

Useful if research question is broad and significant evidence base exists.

Other reviews  

Qualitative synthesis

Synthesizes the results of qualitative research using a narrative analysis.

Mixed studies review

Synthesizes the results of experimental and non-experimental research using a statistical approach and/or a narrative analysis with integration of results.

Integrative review

Use a systematic approach to make thematic analysis of quantitative and qualitative research on a topic.

Methodology is sophisticated, requiring insight and attention to detail..

Realist review

Looks at ways in which interventions work or not.

Identifies and explains evidence

Requires substantial stakeholder involvement.


adapted from 'A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies.'

Grant, M & Booth,A. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 26. 2009