Types Of Literature Review

A literature review is the most important section of a dissertation. It is the part where you justify your research problem in the light of the existing body of knowledge. Researchers have to identify the existing gaps in the study and make room for their research problem. In the same vein, there are some main types of literature review that every student needs to know. This article will tell you about the main types of literature review essential in all kinds of research.

Types Of Literature Review

Narrative Or Traditional Literature Reviews

Narrative or traditional literature reviews are among the main types of literature review. Researchers conduct a narrative or traditional literature review to critically evaluate and summarise the existing knowledge on the research topic. Researchers search for the relevant literature from relevant databases and are highly selective in choosing the sources. Also, Researchers do not describe the inclusion and exclusion criteria for selecting the documents.

A narrative or traditional literature review is an effective technique for collecting and combining the available literature. A narrative review’s main goal is to provide the researcher and reader with a full overview of the issue and identify critical investigation areas. Narrative reviews can also help discover research gaps and enhance and specify research objectives. It is often a preliminary step taken by researchers to understand the context of the topic.

Critically Appraised Topic (CAT)

A critically appraised topic is a concise synthesis of the most relevant studies to a research topic. It is a sort of systematic review that is less thorough and evaluates common knowledge about an issue by searching and evaluating relevant research. The critically appraised topic is among the main types of literature review common in the following subjects:

  • Veterinary Science
  • Physiotherapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Dermatology
  • Urology
  • Radiology
  • Nursing
  • Business Management
  • Education

A critically appraised topic aims to know about the known and unknown things regarding a clinical intervention, especially in medical fields. Researchers use a systematic review methodology and critically examine the primary studies. But as mentioned earlier critically appraised topic is a quick method to review the literature and generate insights. Researchers select a few relevant databases crucial for the research issue and review the selective studies. In other cases, a critically appraised method encompasses a limited meta-analysis of research studies. Researchers collect limited data using this review methodology, such as key findings. Studies argue that critically appraised topic is prone to selection bias compared to systematic literature review.

Scoping Reviews

Scoping reviews are among the main types of literature review. According to a research study conducted by Grant and Booth in 2009, scoping reviews are “preliminary assessment of potential size and scope of available research literature. Aims to identify nature and extent of research evidence (usually including ongoing research)”. Scoping reviews are important for putting together a summary of research findings. They’re typically used to categorise or classify studies in a given field. The literature review is divided into three categories: kind, features, and volume.

Scoping review is a foundational assessment of the range and extent of commonly available research material. Its purpose is to figure out how extensive the scientific evidence is. When a complete literature evaluation is not available, scoping reviews are useful. They’re also handy when dealing with a large, diversified, or heterogeneous corpus of literature. Scoping reviews are among the important main types of literature review. They are useful for identifying the scope and depth of previous research. They give a clear picture of the amount of literature available. Moreover, scoping reviews enable the researchers to provide a detailed summary of the research topic.

Systematic Literature Reviews

Systematic literature reviews are among the main types of literature review. A systematic review examines the literature based on a specific research question or problem. Researchers use pre-defined processes to conduct a systematic literature review. It is contrary to the scoping review, which does not use pre-defined methods to review the literature. Researchers conduct the scoping review as a prelude to a systematic review in most cases. Systematic literature reviews encompass structured approaches to assess the literature’s credibility. Researchers employ rigorous and systematic techniques to identify, choose, and assess relevant material.

Additionally, it allows a researcher to collect information from the available literature and evaluate the evidence. It helps researchers to reduce subjectivity and selection biasness. As a result, researchers can gather valid data and analyse it to arrive at key findings and conclusions. If you ae facing any issue in conducting this type of review, you can hire best dissertation writing services.

Annotated Bibliographies

Annotated bibliographies are among the main types of literature review essential for conducting a critical literature review. It entails providing citations from a collection of books, journal articles and documents. After every citation, the researchers provide an annotation of 150-200 words. The purpose of providing an annotation after every citation is to describe and evaluate the evidence. It informs the readers about the relevance of the source. Moreover, annotated bibliographies also help inform the readers about the credibility and value of the provided citation. Researchers may choose to include annotated bibliographies in literature to serve the following purposes:

Provide a Summary

When researchers have to summarise the citations, they can use annotated bibliographies. It provides the following information:

  • What is the key argument of the source?
  • What are the aims and objectives of the cited study?
  • And what aspects of the topic has the cited study covered?
  • Give a general idea to the readers about the source.


After summarising the source, researchers also have to evaluate the source to justify its relevance to the research problem. In an evaluation of annotated bibliographies, researchers provide the following information:

  • What is the relevance of the cited source to the current study?
  • Compare the cited source with other sources and synthesise the evidence
  • Assess the reliability of the source
  • Examine and evaluate the objectivity of the source key findings
  • Analyses the purpose of the source and its impact on the literature


After summarising and evaluating the source, researchers have to reflect on the source. It provides the following information:

  • How the cited source relates to the research problem of the study?
  • Did the source help you find the relevant information for your research topic?
  • Does it have an impact on forming your arguments?
  • Has the source provided new insights and perspectives to look at the topic?


The above-mentioned main types of literature review are important for every research student to learn. The usage of each type depends upon the nature of your research. You can use more than one kind of literature review for conducting a literature review.