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Types of Literature Review – Expert Guide

A Literature Review Help to summarize what has been written on a specific topic. It is a broad term. Literature reviews come in a wide variety of forms and can be completed to varying degrees of completeness and depth, covering a wide range of topics. The type of review you conduct will be based on the goal of your review, as well as the resources and time available to you.


This blog post will define the most common literature review types in the academic paper as well as provide dissertation examples for better understanding.


Definition of a literature review?

A literature review is a piece of writing that demonstrates knowledge and understanding of scholarly papers on a specific topic. For this reason, a literature review is referred to as a review rather than a report because it also includes a thorough analysis of the sources. It is both a method of reviewing literature and a type of writing.


Consider articles about movies or television shows to demonstrate the distinction between reporting and reviewing. These articles contain information like a concise synopsis of the major themes of the movie or program in addition to the critic’s own assessment.


Similar to this, a literature review has two main goals: first, it should cover the research, theories, and supporting data that are already in existence; and second, it should include your critical assessment of the information. It is used to strengthen any thesis or dissertation by conducting an investigation on the research question (dissertationwritinghelp, 2022).


In a dissertation, research project, or lengthy essay, a literature review typically constitutes a section or part of the work. It can, however, be assigned and graded as a separate piece of work.


What is the purpose of conducting a literature review?

A literature review is typically one of the first tasks accomplished after selecting a topic in a larger piece of writing, such as a dissertation or project. It is possible to improve a topic and develop research questions by reading critically and analyzing it. Before beginning a new investigation, conducting a literature review will demonstrate that you are knowledgeable about and comprehend the state of the art in a particular field. After conducting a literature review, you must be aware of what research has already been conducted and be able to identify what remains unknown about your topic. Following these guidelines is a good idea when conducting and writing a literature review:


  • Past studies and theories should be summarized and analyzed
  • Identify points of contention and contested claims
  • Highlight any gaps in previous research


Types of literature review

A literature review summarizes important previous research on a topic. It is an essential component of the research. The researcher learns what is missing from a field of research that already exists from the literature review. A thesis can use a variety of literature review techniques. They vary according to the study’s objectives and research design.


Critical review

The critical review is more than just a summary of current research. It involves a thorough investigation of a topic or study from a variety of perspectives (Eaton, 2018). The critical review is an exercise in careful thought that takes into account both strengths and weaknesses. A critical review necessitates effective information gathering and literature review. The goal is to perform a critical analysis of the research topic of interest.


The most important feature is that it makes a rational decision. A well-written critical review reveals a problem’s suitability and relevance. It also considers the significance of the study. This type of review is employed when the study must be critically examined. The conclusion it draws about the issue is precise and accurate. The critical review is presented so that an unbiased, critical analysis can be made. It entails strong and convincing arguments and opinions. In this type of review technique, the reasoning is critical.


Theoretical review

A theoretical review in a thesis serves to support the study with existing theory. A study becomes more solid and trustworthy when the theory supporting the idea is explained. A single idea may be supported by several theories. It is crucial to pick the option that best conveys the key ideas and their relationship. It has the potential to improve the research’s success rate. Theories and concepts represent the researcher’s understanding as well. It also serves as the study’s blueprint in some ways.


Particularly in fields like the social sciences, economics, and consumer psychology, a theoretical framework is crucial. New discoveries in these fields are based on theories already in existence

that are constantly updated while remaining relevant. At least two theories must be identified in such a thesis. Diagrammatic presentations of theories are preferred because they aid the reader’s visualization.


Systematic literature review

A systematic review of the literature aids in locating and evaluating the investigation. It is performed in order to receive a response to the defined question. In order to solve the research problem, it aims to determine the best solution. This seems to be similar to the narrative literature review, but there are a few key differences, including:


  • There are specific research questions.
  • A set of criteria is used to choose the studies.
  • The evaluation method is rigorous and critical.
  • The conclusions are usually evidence-based.
  • The review is usually presented in a specific format that includes tables.


To make decisions, a systematic review is used. As a result, it cannot be included in all kinds of theses. Science, medicine,  psychology, and social sciences are the main fields that use the systematic literature review methodology. While using the systemic review technique, certain principles should be kept in mind. In order to reduce the likelihood of bias, these include accessibility, equality, focus, and transparency in the representation of results.




Any type of literature review used in a study needs to be written using the right structure and format. Avoid using emotive language or making claims that aren’t supported by evidence. Furthermore, the researcher should avoid using irrelevant or non-scholarly sources. The emphasis must be on selecting the appropriate type of review and developing a logical structure.


Reference list

Eaton, S.E., 2018. Educational research literature reviews: Understanding the hierarchy of sources.


DWH., (2022). Chapter 2 literature reviews. Online Available at <https://dissertationwritinghelp.uk/chapter-2-literature-review/> [Accessed on 18th August 2022]







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