Types of reviews
There are many different types of reviews, and systeamtic reviews are just one of them. Read the short descriptions below, and find referendes to relevant literature on the subject of review types.
Research literature reviews
Overall term describing reviews that use the systematic and transparent approach advocated in systematic reviews. You conduct a comprehensive search of all available literature on a topic or problem area in a structured and systematic way, but do not necessarily apply review protocols, standards for the search, search protocols and reporting standards. The purpose is to map what has been written on a subject or problem. research literature reviews can be similar to scoping reviews.
The literature search aims to identify everything that has been written on a problem area/clinical question (including grey literature) and avoid or reduce as much as possible bias in the evidence/literature. There are establihed protocols and standards for designing and conducting the search, how to evaluate the quality of the identified literature/evidence (critical appraisal) and how to structure the review and report the findings, e.g. PRISMA.
Often the prepatory work to a systematic review, in that you map the existing literature within a topic - how much is written, how the topic is written about, where there are gaps in the literature and identify the need for revision and updates. In other words, a scoping review sets the context for a given research area. Typically a scoping review covers a wide subject area and includes many different types of studies.
Meta-analysis use statistical techniques to combine data from the examined individual research studies identified in a systematic review, and use the pooled data to come to new statistical conclusions.The validity of the meta-analysis depends on the comparibility of the data from the disparate studies produces.
Traditional narrative reviews
In a narrative review, the author subjectively reviews a selection of literature to illustrate a problem of interest. The purpose is to present their expert opinion on ”the current state of knowledge” on a topic or problem, and also to provoke new perspecives or understanding.
All the aforementioned review types are used in psychology:
In Social Sciences, systematic reviews are not yet common practice. Examples are found across many subjects, such as criminality, education, social welfare, transport and health. The usefuleness of a SR is being investigated in polical science, where SR give stakeholders and decision-makers the possibility to:
As of yet, SR are not used to their full potential in political science. There is some disagreement on the suitability of the method (read more in the recommended readings on the "Literature" page of this website).