How the systematic literature review search strategy conduct and literature review search strategy how does literature review help in research
Subject Librarian : Natural Sciences
mjrooneytcd.ie TRINITY COLLEGE LIBRARY
What is a literature review?
• Reviews have always been part of Scientific Literature
• Experts have always sought to collate existing knowledge
and publish summaries on specific topics. What is a Literature Review ?
A literature review is a critical, in-depth evaluation
of research already undertaken on a specific topic
by accredited scholars and researchers. What a literature review is
• A literature review surveys scholarly articles, books and
other sources (e.g. dissertations, conference proceedings)
relevant to a particular issue, area of research or theory.
• It provides a description, summary and critical evaluation
of each work.
• It’s overall purpose is to provide a critical evaluation of
significant literature published on a topic.
What it is not
N.B. A literature review itself, does not present any
new primary scholarship
Purpose of a literature review
• Assess the contribution of existing literature to the subject
• Allows you to demonstrate your ability to identify relevant
information and to outline existing knowledge.
• Allows you to identify any gap in the research thereby
providing a rationale for your own. What is a systematic literature review?
• A clearly formulated question
• Definition of methods that will be used to perform the
• Defined search strategy to identify all available research
data relevant to a particular research question.
• Evaluates, appraises, selects and synthesizes the data by
use of explicit methodology
Systematic Review Process
Why is it important to be systematic?
• Summarises existing knowledge on topic effectively
• Peer reviewed protocol to establish
- search strategy
- selection criteria for resources to be included /excluded
• Findings can be replicated.
• Single research paper published in 1998, based on 12
children suggested mmr vaccine could cause Autism
• Worldwide scare – reduced uptake of vaccine, potentially
very serious consequences for public health.
• Definitive systematic review by Demicheli et al disputed
• Example of where a systematic review helped clarify a vital
public health issue. Systematic Review
• Well defined methodology means results are less likely to
• If studies give consistent results systematic reviews
provide evidence phenomenon is robust and transferable.
• Most needed when there is a substantive question and
several primary studies. TRINITY COLLEGE LIBRARY
How to formulate a search strategy
Prior to searching any resource, look at your topic and decide :
1. What are the component issues?
2. What are the primary keywords / phrases in my topic ?
3. What alternative keywords or synonyms represent each of
these key topics? Remember
Remember, a well defined research question
A clearly defined research question will help
is central to an effective search strategy.
with you plan an effective research strategy.
Is your research question?
- Specific -
- Focused -
- Clearly formulated -
- Well defined -
Stages of a literature review
What do you need to find out ?
What are the component issues?
Decide your keywords
A list of primary keywords (incl synonyms) TRINITY COLLEGE LIBRARY