Choosing a Review Type

Not every review is a systematic review. Be sure to select the review type that matches the purpose and scope of your project. All reviews should be methodical and done in a careful and deliberate manner with a defined protocol. 

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What is the purpose of this review? 
  • What is the research question?
  • How long do I have to complete it?
  • Am I doing it alone or part of a team?
  • How much of the literature do I need to capture?
  • Does my literature search have to be transparent and replicable?
  • Are there standard methods that need to be followed

Review Types

Integrative Review

Summarizes past empirical or theoretical literature to provide a more comprehensive understanding of a particular phenomenon or healthcare problem

Narrative Review

Useful in tracing concept development
Scope is broad and comprehensive
Methodology is not standardized 
Journal requirements vary - check the journal's instruction for authors

Rapid Review

Used on emerging issues needing quick answers
Use “reduced” systematic review methods
Often completed  =3 months

Realist Review

Focuses on context and process
Uses an iterative protocol
Useful for complex policy interventions  

Reviews of Reviews or Umbrella Review

Systematic review of systematic reviews 
Synthesizes systematic reviews of same topic
Assesses scope and quality of individual 
systematic reviews

Scoping Review

Looks at broad research question
Creates broad literature map to find gaps
Uses qualitative synthesis

Systematic Review

Addresses a specific question
Uses specified methodology
Assesses quality of the literature
Requires a team and long term commitment