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Systems Design Engineering: Types of Review Articles


This page identifies resources that help demystify three common types of review articles:

  • Literature reviews
  • Systematic reviews
  • Scoping reviews 

Each of these review articles has a unique purpose and a unique methodology.

Why are Review Articles Important?

Review articles may be an introduction to a project or your dissertation (Literature Review), or a publishable article (Scoping & Systematic Reviews).

Generally, they:

  • provides a context for the research topic
  • identifies major themes and concepts of the research topic
  • outlines gaps and flaws in previous research
  • enables the researcher to learn from previous theory on the subject
  • identifies what has been already covered to prevent duplication
  • position the work within the existing literature
  • discusses further research questions

Guides for the systematic review process

What is the Project's Goal?

Always ask yourself:

  • Do I want to systematically/comprehensively search the literature?
  • Or, do I want to conduct a systematic review?

Conducting a comprehensive search of the literature involves very different methods than a systematic review. If you are unsure as to which project best meets your needs, consult the your Liaison Librarian, Kate Mercer

Literature Reviews

What is a literature review? A literature review gives readers a way to easily access research on a particular topic by providing a peer reviewed paper that includes high quality articles and/or studies that are relevant, meaningful, and valid, summarizing the data and results into one source.  

These resources offer practical insight into literature reviews:

Scoping Reviews

What is a scoping review? "Scoping reviews are a type of literature review that aims to provide an overview of the type, extent and quantity of research available on a given topic. By ‘mapping’ existing research, a scoping review can identify potential research gaps and future research needs, and do so by using systematic and transparent methods." Source  

These resources offer practical insight into scoping reviews:

Systematic Reviews

What is a systematic review? "Systematic reviews seek to collate all evidence that fits pre-specified eligibility criteria in order to address a specific research question" and "...aim to minimize bias by using explicit, systematic methods." Source

These resources offer practical insight into systematic reviews:

Systematic Review Template Files

Use the "UW Library Systematic Review Protocol" to identify the various aspects of your systematic review (SR) project. This protocol will help minimize the likelihood of bias throughout the SR process, which is vital to a SR.

Use the "Study Flow Diagram (PRISMA) & RefWorks Folders" document to help guide you as you build your PRISMA diagram for your systematic review/meta-analysis.