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Biology

Literature Review

Literature Review is a comprehensive survey of the works published in a particular field of study or line of research, usually over a specific period of time, in the form of an in-depth, critical bibliographic essay or annotated list in which attention is drawn to the most significant works.

Also, we can define a literature review as the collected body of scholarly works related to a topic:

  • Summarizes and analyzes previous research relevant to a topic
  • Includes scholarly books and articles published in academic journals
  • Can be an specific scholarly paper or a section in a research paper

The objective of a Literature Review is to find previous published scholarly works relevant to an specific topic

  • Help gather ideas or information
  • Keep up to date in current trends and findings
  • Help develop new questions

A literature review is important because it:

  • Explains the background of research on a topic
  • Demonstrates why a topic is significant to a subject area
  • Helps focus your own research questions or problems
  • Discovers relationships between research studies/ideas
  • Suggests unexplored ideas or populations
  • Identifies major themes, concepts, and researchers on a topic
  • Tests assumptions; may help counter preconceived ideas and remove unconscious bias
  • Identifies critical gaps, points of disagreement, or potentially flawed methodology or theoretical approaches

 

Source: "What is a Literature Review?", Old Dominion University, https://guides.lib.odu.edu/c.php?g=966167&p=6980532

Systematic Review

systematic review answers a defined research question by collecting and summarizing all empirical evidence that fits pre-specified eligibility criteria.

Systematic reviews, just like other research articles, can be of varying quality. They should have:

  • clearly stated objectives with pre-defined eligibility criteria for studies
  • explicit, reproducible methodology
  • a systematic search that attempts to identify all studies
  • assessment of the validity of the findings of the included studies (e.g. risk of bias)
  • systematic presentation, and synthesis, of the characteristics and findings of the included studies

Not all systematic reviews contain meta-analysis. 

 

Source: "Systematic reviews vs. Meta-Analysis," Old Dominion University, https://guides.lib.odu.edu/c.php?g=966167&p=7021863

Meta-Analysis

Meta-analysis is the use of statistical methods to summarize the results of independent studies. By combining information from all relevant studies, meta-analysis can provide more precise estimates of the effects of health care than those derived from the individual studies included within a review. 

meta-analysis goes beyond critique and integration and conducts secondary statistical analysis on the outcomes of similar studies.  It is a systematic review that uses quantitative methods to synthesize and summarize the results.

An advantage of a meta-analysis is the ability to be completely objective in evaluating research findings. Not all topics, however, have sufficient research evidence to allow a meta-analysis to be conducted. In that case, an integrative review is an appropriate strategy. 

 

Source: "Systematic reviews vs. Meta-Analysis," Old Dominion University, https://guides.lib.odu.edu/c.php?g=966167&p=7021863