The Literature Review: 1. Introduction
- 1. Introduction
- 2. Why Do a Literature Review?
- 3. Methods for Searching the Literature
- 4. Analysing the Literature
- 5. Organizing the Literature Review
6. Writing the Review
1. About This Guide
This guide provides an introduction to the literature review process:
1. Introduction 1. About This Guide | 2. What is the Literature? | 3. What is a Literature Review? | 4. What a Literature Review is Not! | 5. Literature Reviews: An Overview for Graduate Students
2. Why Do a Literature Review? 1. Reasons for Doing a Literature Review | 2. Purposes of a Literature Review | 3. Components of a Literature Review
3. Methods for Searching the Literature 1. Tasks Involved in a Literature Review | 2. Skills Required for Conducting a Literature Search | 3. Searching Techniques | 4. Sorting the Literature | 5. Notetaking | 6. Questions to Keep in Mind
4. Analysing the Literature 1. Recording the Literature | 2. The Evolving Literature Review | 3. Questions to Ask
5. Organizing the Review 1. Organizing Principles | 2. Structure of the Literature Review | 3. Tips on Structure | 4. Selected Online Resources | 5. A Final Checklist
1. Writing the Literature Review Part 1: Step-by-Step Tutorial for Graduate Students | 2. Writing the Literature Review Part 2: Step-by-Step Tutorial for Graduate Students | 3. Tips for Effective Literature Reviews | 4. Literature Review Samples | 5. Resources @ UWISA Libraries
2. What is the "Literature"?
The works you consult in order to identify the ideas and knowledge that have been established on your topic:
Journal articles are the most common sources of materials for literature reviews. They provide:
- concise and up-to-date information
- some guarantee of the quality of the work they publish
Books are usually less up-to-date than journal articles. They are:
- useful for providing overall summaries of the state of knowledge in an area
- a starting point for finding more detailed information sources
Conference proceedings may contain research not yet published in journals.
Reports of government and international agencies
Theses and dissertations can be valuable sources of original research
Newspapers and magazines may inlcude news stories on research that you can follow up to find more detail
Web pages/documents on the Internet
3. What is a Literature Review?
" The analysis, critical evaluation and synthesis of existing knowledge relevant to your research problem, thesis or the issue you are aiming to say something about " (Hart, 2018, p. 3 & 4)
"A literature review uses as its database reports of primary or original scholarlship and does not report new primary scholarship itself.... Second, a literature review seeks to describe, summarize, evaluate, clarify and/or interrogate the content of primary reports." (Cooper, 1998, p. 7)
"A literature review is a written document that presents a logically argued case founded on a comprehensive understanding of the current state of knowledge about a topic of study. This case establishes a convincing thesis to answer a study's question." (Machi & McEvoy, 2016, p. 5)
- Writing a Literature Review A useful guide with respect to the where, when, why, what and how of the literature review.
4. What a Literature Review is Not!
It is not an annotated bibliography!
An annotated bibliography "is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited." Definition from Cornell University Library, available at http://guides.library.cornell.edu/annotatedbibliography
- Written in essay style and organized around a central idea or thesis
- A single source may be referred to numerous times depending on its importance in the field or its relationship to other sources
- An alphabetical list of sources accompanied by summaries
- A single source appears just once
5. Literature Reviews: An Overview for Graduate Students - NCSU Video
Research guide updated and maintained by petronetta pierre - robertson indexer/documentalist.
Sincere thanks to Jennifer Warburton of the University of Melbourne for permission to draw on some of the content of her Guide .
- Next: 2. Why Do a Literature Review? >>
- Last Updated: Feb 8, 2022 5:25 PM
- URL: https://libguides.uwi.edu/litreviewsoe
Literature Review Guide: How to organise the review
- What is a Literature Review?
- How to start?
- Search strategies and Databases
- Examples of Literature Reviews
- How to organise the review
- Library summary
- Emerald Infographic
How to structure your literature review (ignore the monotone voice as advice is good)
How to structure and write your literature review
- Chronological, ie. by date of publication or trend
- Use Cooper's taxonomy to explore and determine what elements and categories to incorporate into your review
- Revise and proofread your review to ensure your arguments, supporting evidence and writing is clear and precise
Cronin, P., Ryan, F. & Coughlan, M. (2008). Undertaking a literature review: A step-by-step approach . British Journal of Nursing, 17 (1), pp.38-43.
Different ways to organise a Literature Review
CHRONOLOGICAL (by date): This is one of the most common ways, especially for topics that have been talked about for a long time and have changed over their history. Organise it in stages of how the topic has changed: the first definitions of it, then major time periods of change as researchers talked about it, then how it is thought about today.
BROAD-TO-SPECIFIC : Another approach is to start with a section on the general type of issue you're reviewing, then narrow down to increasingly specific issues in the literature until you reach the articles that are most specifically similar to your research question, thesis statement, hypothesis, or proposal. This can be a good way to introduce a lot of background and related facets of your topic when there is not much directly on your topic but you are tying together many related, broader articles.
MAJOR MODELS or MAJOR THEORIES : When there are multiple models or prominent theories, it is a good idea to outline the theories or models that are applied the most in your articles. That way you can group the articles you read by the theoretical framework that each prefers, to get a good overview of the prominent approaches to your concept.
PROMINENT AUTHORS : If a certain researcher started a field, and there are several famous people who developed it more, a good approach can be grouping the famous author/researchers and what each is known to have said about the topic. You can then organise other authors into groups by which famous authors' ideas they are following. With this organisation it can help to look at the citations your articles list in them, to see if there is one author that appears over and over.
CONTRASTING SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT : If you find a dominant argument comes up in your research, with researchers taking two sides and talking about how the other is wrong, you may want to group your literature review by those schools of thought and contrast the differences in their approaches and ideas.
Ways to structure your Literature Review
Different ways to organise your literature review include:
- Topical order (by main topics or issues, showing relationship to the main problem or topic)
- Chronological order (simplest of all, organise by dates of published literature)
- Problem-cause-solution order
- General to specific order
- Known to unknown order
- Comparison and contrast order
- Specific to general order
- << Previous: Videos
- Next: Library summary >>
- Last Updated: Jan 11, 2023 10:06 AM
- URL: https://ait.libguides.com/literaturereview
Conducting a Literature Review
- Getting Started
- Define your Research Question
- Finding Sources
- Evaluating Sources
Organizing the Review
- Cite and Manage your Sources
Organizing your literature review involves examining the sources you have and determining how they best fit together to form a coherent and complete narrative. However you choose to do this, the goal should be to organize your literature in a way that naturally flows and makes sense to your reader.
- Literature Review: Conducting & Writing by the University of West Florida Libraries
- Literature Reviews: Organizing Your Research by the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Hunt Library
A literature review is structured similarly to other research essays, opening with an introduction that explains the topic and summarizes how the review will be conducted, several body paragraphs organized to share your findings, and a concluding paragraph.
There are many different ways to organize the body of your review. Some possible approaches are listed below.
While they all share the same overarching topic, each source approaches it in a slightly different way, valuing certain aspects or methods more than others. For example, with a literature review about the impacts of the Affordable Care Act, some literature might focus on the demographic changes in access to healthcare, or the actions taken by private health insurance companies, or even the way healthcare is discussed in politics. By combining sources that discuss the same subtopics, you can organize your review to show how the articles overlap and complement one another to create a more complete view of the existing research.
For a thematic literature review, each body paragraph would consist of one of these themes, or subtopics, and the literature associated with it.
Alternatively, you can group your resources by their relevance to your research question. Again using the ACA as an example, it might be a good idea to begin with the sources that most broadly address the impacts of the Affordable Care Act and then order the literature by increasing specificity.
It may be the case that your literature can be neatly defined into different types of research, such as different methods to treat an illness or ways to test a hypothesis. Examining the literature by the ways in which the authors tried to answer questions associated with the topic is a useful way to compare and contrast research results, as well as identify potential strengths or weaknesses in the methodologies used.
Varying Opinions/Problem & Solution(s)
Your various sources might not all come to the same conclusions about the topic; in fact, especially with controversial subject matter, there may be widely differing opinions on the issues and how best to approach them. Related to the thematic review, this type of literature review structure uses the first body paragraph to pose a question, then each of the body paragraphs illustrating the differing answers found in the literature. It is an excellent way to address arguments and counter-arguments if your topic is hotly contested in academic and popular works.
If you find yourself struggling to differentiate your sources by topic or relevance because they are all about equal in these regards, it might be a good idea to organize them chronologically.
There are two major types of chronology literature reviews tend to be grouped by:
- Publication date : Start with the earliest-published research and finish with the most current
- By trend : Organize sources into eras based on the time period and relative events associated with the topic. For example, regarding the Affordable Care Act, it could be split into the time before the ACA was passed, the immediate aftermath (2010-2011), Obama's second term (2012-2016), etc.
Using a Synthesis Matrix
A literature review doesn't merely summarize the current research on a topic: part of your responsibility is to take this information and make something new out of it that can be used by future researchers. This process of combining other sources of information and making an original argument out of them is called synthesis , which literally means "the combination of ideas to form a theory or system." You will synthesize the literature you've selected for review to form an argument about where more research needs to be done on your topic.
One of the most important elements of synthesis in a literature review is analysis: rather than simply repeating the results of each source you've found, you are going to analyze it for similarities to your other resources, limitations and strengths of the methodology, and an examination of the conclusions drawn by the author(s) compared to the rest of the research on the topic. This is why proper organization of the literature is so important; it will allow you to group your sources by theme so that they can be more easily compared and contrasted.
In addition to the recommendations elsewhere on this page, a common method for preparing to organize your literature is by using a synthesis matrix. This is a tool to help pick out the most important aspects of each source and see where the most common themes lie.
With the major information organized like this, it is easy to see which resources used similar methods of research, which had similar or differing results, and when chronologically the research was conducted. Grouping the literature by any of these similarities could be a useful way to organize your review.
- How to Synthesize Your Literature Review by Britt McGowan & UWF Libraries
- Synthesizing Sources by Purdue Online Writing Lab
Questions the Literature Review Should Answer
The University of the West Indies (linked below) provides a useful checklist of questions that a good literature review should address. When outlining your review, pay attention to how you will answer the following:
These will likely be answered throughout your body paragraphs, but it might be worthwhile to address some of these in the conclusion instead or in addition.
- Organizing the Literature Review by the University of the West Indies
- << Previous: Evaluating Sources
- Next: Writing the Review >>
- Last Updated: Dec 19, 2022 1:17 PM
- URL: https://libraryservices.acphs.edu/lit_review
- University of Texas Libraries
- What is a literature review?
- Steps in the Literature Review Process
- Define your research question
- Determine inclusion and exclusion criteria
- Choose databases and search
- Review Results
- Synthesize Results
- Analyze Results
- Librarian Support
What is a Literature Review?
A literature or narrative review is a comprehensive review and analysis of the published literature on a specific topic or research question. The literature that is reviewed contains: books, articles, academic articles, conference proceedings, association papers, and dissertations. It contains the most pertinent studies and points to important past and current research and practices. It provides background and context, and shows how your research will contribute to the field.
A literature review should:
- Provide a comprehensive and updated review of the literature;
- Explain why this review has taken place;
- Articulate a position or hypothesis;
- Acknowledge and account for conflicting and corroborating points of view
From S age Research Methods
Purpose of a Literature Review
A literature review can be written as an introduction to a study to:
- Demonstrate how a study fills a gap in research
- Compare a study with other research that's been done
Or it can be a separate work (a research article on its own) which:
- Organizes or describes a topic
- Describes variables within a particular issue/problem
Limitations of a Literature Review
Some of the limitations of a literature review are:
- It's a snapshot in time. Unlike other reviews, this one has beginning, a middle and an end. There may be future developments that could make your work less relevant.
- It may be too focused. Some niche studies may miss the bigger picture.
- It can be difficult to be comprehensive. There is no way to make sure all the literature on a topic was considered.
- It is easy to be biased if you stick to top tier journals. There may be other places where people are publishing exemplary research. Look to open access publications and conferences to reflect a more inclusive collection. Also, make sure to include opposing views (and not just supporting evidence).
Source: Grant, Maria J., and Andrew Booth. “A Typology of Reviews: An Analysis of 14 Review Types and Associated Methodologies.” Health Information & Libraries Journal, vol. 26, no. 2, June 2009, pp. 91–108. Wiley Online Library, doi:10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00848.x.
Meryl Brodsky : Communication and Information Studies
Hannah Chapman Tripp : Biology, Neuroscience
Carolyn Cunningham : Human Development & Family Sciences, Psychology, Sociology
Larayne Dallas : Engineering
Janelle Hedstrom : Special Education, Curriculum & Instruction, Ed Leadership & Policy
Susan Macicak : Linguistics
Imelda Vetter : Dell Medical School
For help in other subject areas, please see the guide to library specialists by subject .
Periodically, UT Libraries runs a workshop covering the basics and library support for literature reviews. While we try to offer these once per academic year, we find providing the recording to be helpful to community members who have missed the session. Following is the most recent recording of the workshop, Conducting a Literature Review. To view the recording, a UT login is required.
- October 26, 2022 recording
- Last Updated: Oct 26, 2022 2:49 PM
- URL: https://guides.lib.utexas.edu/literaturereviews
× Spring Break: Monday, 03/13/2023 - Sunday, 03/19/2023: Library Pickups are by Appointment. Need an appointment? Email us at Sherrill Library: [email protected] or Moriarty Library: [email protected]
× welcome back our remote services guide has everything you need to know about library services we're offering this semester, including research help, study spaces, and more for other campus plans, see the lesley university covid-19 response. any other questions ask us.
- Literature Review
- What type of literature review should you write?
- Hide Menu Thingy Widget
- Additional Guides & Reading Materials
Library & Research Help
- Sherrill Library: 617-349-8850
- Moriarty Library: 617-349-8070
- Text: 617-340-8008
- Research Help: Ask Us!
- Email: [email protected]
- Art & Design Research Email: [email protected]
There are different methods to organize and present the materials collected for the literature review.
The list below goes over different organizational frameworks that can be used to present the research conducted. If you are not sure what method to use, check with your professor.
- Chronological: The chronological framework organizes the literature in the order in which they are published. For example, if you were writing about a specific teaching method, you would begin with the materials that first introduced the method. You would then follow with case studies applying that method. You would conclude your review with contemporary papers that may even give a historical perspective on the method from when it was first conceived and how it is applied today.
- by publication: This framework is useful if you notice a series of articles that are written in response to one another that are all within one publication. You still follow chronological order, but you break it so that the articles responding to one another are grouped together.
- by trend: This framework looks at specific trends and organizes them chronologically. For example, if you were looking at the history of assistive technology in helping students with disabilities, you may organize the reviews by what disability was being treated, and then present the history of using assistive technology to treat that particular disability in chronological order.
- Thematic: The thematic framework is similar to organizing by trend, except that you are not organizing the reviews in the order that they were published. This does not mean that you do not consider the timeline for how a topic or issue developed, but that you will not focus on organizing your reviews chronologically. Rather, the emphasis will be on the themes you find within the topic or issue — such as commonalities — and from there you fit your reviews into the separate ideas in which they fit. For example, if the review topic was arts-based research, your review may focus on different ways artistic inquiry was used to understand the creative process, focusing then on the concepts rather than the development.
- Methodological: The method or practice applied in a case study can be the basis for organizing a literature review. This framework focuses on how the author(s) or the person(s) administering a study applied similar methods as another study. As a result, the types of literature in a literature review that applies the methodological framework tends to review similar materials. For example, if you reviewed methods used to treat post traumatic stress syndrome, the review would organize the studies by the methods used to treat the patients and not the order that the studies were published.
Note: After choosing the organizational framework for the literature review, it should be easier to write because you should have a clear idea of what sections you need to include in the paper. For example, a chronological review will have subsections for each vital time period. A thematic review will have subtopics based upon factors that relate to the theme or issue.
In some cases the literature does not quite fit the framework you have chosen. In this case, you should determine where it makes sense to place the literature and confirm this choice with your professor.
- << Previous: Literature Review
- Next: Additional Guides & Reading Materials >>
- Last Updated: Dec 15, 2022 2:41 PM
- URL: https://research.lesley.edu/LitReview
Porter Campus 1801 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02140 617-349-8070
South Campus 89 Brattle Street Cambridge, MA 02138 617-349-8850
Penn State University Libraries
Soc 001: introductory sociology.
- Literature Reviews: Strategies for Writing
- Fake News and Evaluating Sources
Welcome to Intro to Sociology!
This guide has information related to specific databases and journals for your sociology project.
- PsycINFO (via ProQuest) This link opens in a new window Great place to look for articles on psychology and psychiatry more... less... PsycINFO provides access to international literature in psychology and related disciplines. Unrivaled in its depth of psychological coverage and respected worldwide for its high quality, the database is enriched with literature from an array of disciplines related to psychology such as psychiatry, education, business, medicine, nursing, pharmacology, law, linguistics, and social work. Nearly all records contain nonevaluative summaries, and all records from 1967 to the present are indexed using the Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms.
- PubMed (Medline) This link opens in a new window National Library of Medicine's biomedical research article database of citations and abstracts more... less... PubMed is a web interface that allows you to search MEDLINE, the National Library of Medicine's premier database of citations and abstracts for biomedical research articles. The core subject is medicine, but subject coverage also includes bioethics, biology, chemistry, dentistry, environmental health, genetics, gerontology, health care planning and administration, history of medicine, hospital administration, microbiology, nutrition, nursing (International Nursing Index), physiology, pre-clinical sciences, public health, sports medicine, veterinary medicine and zoology. MEDLINE covers over 4,800 journals published in the United States and 70 other countries. The database contains over 15 million citations dating back to 1950. Coverage is worldwide and updated weekly. Learn more about PubMed at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/pubs/factsheets/pubmed.html. or Try the Tutorial at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/bsd/pubmed_tutorial/m1001.html
- Sociological Abstracts This link opens in a new window Social and behavioral sciences database more... less... CSA Sociological Abstracts abstracts and indexes the international literature in sociology and related disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences. The database provides abstracts of journal articles and citations to book reviews drawn from over 1,700 serials publications, and also provides abstracts of books, book chapters, dissertations, and conference papers. Records added after 1974 contain in-depth and nonevaluative abstracts of journal articles.
- ProQuest Education Journals This link opens in a new window Good for education and younger population articles more... less... ProQuest Education Journals provides access to over 785 journals, more than 615 in full text, including all aspects of education, with coverage since 1991-.
- U. S. Census Government statistics
These are the journals by title that are going to be most useful to you in this course.
- American Journal of Sociology
- Journal of Social Issues
- Social Problems
- Social Forces
- Sociological Quarterly
- American Sociological Review
- Next: Literature Reviews: Strategies for Writing >>
- Last Updated: Jul 29, 2022 10:43 PM
- URL: https://guides.libraries.psu.edu/shenangosoc001
- Writing Center
- Current Students
- Online Only Students
- Faculty & Staff
- Parents & Family
- Alumni & Friends
- Community & Business
- Student Life
- Video Introduction
- Become a Writing Assistant
- All Writers
- Graduate Students
- ELL Students
- Campus and Community
- Supporting Your Students
- Strategies And Procedures
- Open Educational Resources
- Assignment: Writing Center Session Reflection
- How We Help
- Get to Know Us
- Conversation Partners Program
- Workshop Series
- Professors Talk Writing
- Computer Lab
- Starting a Writing Center
- A Note to Instructors
- Annotated Bibliography
- Research Proposal
- Argument Essay
- Rhetorical Analysis
A Note to Instructors . . .
COMPSS (Composition Open Materials Promoting Student Success) is a collection of free, high-quality course materials—readings, videos, discussion prompts, group activities, and sample assignment guidelines—available to you as you design and lead low- or no-cost courses in any modality (face-to-face, online, or hybrid). Almost everything about COMPSS can be adjusted to fit the goals of your courses. COMPSS materials can be used instead of or in addition to traditional textbooks; like traditional textbooks, COMPSS materials supplement (but do not replace) the lectures, activities, and other content you develop for your course.
This unit contains five sections, and each section includes materials for at least one week of instruction. Because one of the guiding principles behind COMPSS is choice, we have provided an abundance of content for you to sort, adopt, adapt, or reject at your discretion. Some sections include more materials than you might typically choose to assign; we invite you to make use of as many or as few of these materials as you like.
All materials created by the COMPSS team are licensed CC-BY and can be adopted, remixed, or shared at will as long as the materials are attributed (see items in bold font with the * symbol next to them); some linked materials may have stricter licensing guidelines, although they are all free to use.
One final note: Students who have already completed another COMPSS unit may already be familiar with some of the materials included here.
We hope you and your students will benefit from using these free, high-quality OER!
Major Assignment: Literature Review
This literature review assignment may be used as part of an ongoing research project, or it may be used as a stand-alone project. You are encouraged to adopt, adapt, or remix these guidelines to suit your goals for your class.
- Assignment Guidelines
Section 1: Preparing to Write a Literature Review
Students will. . ..
- Identify research topics that genuinely interest them.
- Conduct preliminary research.
- Develop research questions.
- Design research plans.
- Major Assignment Guidelines: Literature Review *
- "De-Coding Assignment Guidelines" *
- Literature review handout *
- "Identifying Common Academic Purposes"
- "The Purpose of Research Writing"
- "Narrowing and Developing"
- "Reading Like a Professional"
- "Art of Reading a Journal Article"
- Corresponding article: "De-Coding Assignment Guidelines" *
- Activity: See discussion prompts below.
- "Developing a Research Question"
- Initial post: Students complete the activity to generate a total of 25 potential topics.
- Responses: Students select 3-5 posts with potential topics they think are most interesting and write 5 questions about each potential topic for a total of 15-25 questions.
- Brainstorming Activity *
- Research Plan *
Section 2: Organizing, Analyzing, and Engaging with Sources
Students will . . ..
- Continue gathering, evaluating, recording, and engaging with information from sources.
- Use research logs to organize and engage with information.
- Students’ sources
- Research Log Guidelines *
- "Understanding and Using the Library and the Internet for Research"
- "Assessing Source Credibility"
- "Evaluating Sources"
- "Avoiding Plagiarism" *
- "How to Read a Paper Efficiently"
- Evaluation Checklist
- Option 1: In 3-5 thoughtful sentences, address all of the following questions: What did you know about your topic before you began conducting research? What have you learned? What do you want to know more about?
- Option 2: In 3-5 thoughtful sentences, address all of the following questions: What questions, ideas, possibilities, worries, etc. do you have at this point? What are your plans? What questions do you hope your sources will help answer?
- Research Log with 3+ sources *
Section 3: Drafting the Literature Review
- Analyze the major claims, commonalities, and divergences in their sources.
- Compose drafts of their literature reviews.
- Source Analysis Mini-Paper Guidelines *
- "Listening to Sources, Talking to Sources"
- "Integrating Sources" *
- "Annoying Ways People Use Sources"
- Corresponding handout: "Organizing Paragraphs with the 'MEAL Plan'" *
- Share a brief description (6-8 thoughtful sentences) of one or two of your most interesting sources. (Don’t forget to tell us the title and author(s)!) Then, tell us how you found the source(s), what research questions they seem to be answering, and what you find most interesting about the source(s) in the context of this project.
- What do you find most interesting or surprising about what we have learned so far?
- What are you most interested in learning more about?
- What questions or concerns do you have at this point?
- Source Integration Activity *
- Source Analysis Mini-paper *
- Begin or continue composing the literature review—a complete first draft will be due in the next section for peer review.
Section 4: Engaging in Peer Review and Revising the Literature Review
- Submit complete first drafts of their literature reviews.
- Engage in peer review.
- Revise their literature reviews.
- Literature Review Peer Review Guidelines *
- "Giving and Receiving Feedback"
- "How to Write Meaningful Peer Response Praise"
- "Revision" *
- "Reverse Outlining" *
- Activity: Peer review—see discussion prompt below.
- Literature Review Peer Review *
- Reverse Outlining + Revision *
- Peer review of literature review—see discussion prompt above.
Section 5: Finalizing the Literature Review
- Reflect on their peer review and revision processes.
- Edit and proofread their literature review drafts.
- Submit the final drafts of their literature reviews.
- "Editing" *
- "Proofreading" *
- "The Magic of Revision"
- What specific element(s) did your peer reviewer help you improve in your draft?
- What specific element(s) were you able to identify and highlight in your peer’s writing to help them improve, and how successful do you think you were in helping them improve?
- In what way(s) did reviewing and providing structured feedback on your peer’s writing help you look at your own writing with fresh or wizened eyes?
- What do you now understand or appreciate about the process, benefits, or challenges of peer review that you will carry with you as you tackle future writing assignments?
- Response: Respond to the person you partnered with for peer review.
- Letter to the Reader
- Literature Review: Final Draft *
These materials were compiled by the COMPSS team. All materials created by the COMPSS team (see items in bold with the * symbol next to them) are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License and are free to use: they can be adopted, adapted, and shared at will as long as the materials are attributed. Some linked materials may have stricter licensing guidelines, although they are all free to use.
Kennesaw Campus 1000 Chastain Road Kennesaw, GA 30144
Marietta Campus 1100 South Marietta Pkwy Marietta, GA 30060
Phone 470-KSU-INFO (470-578-4636)
- Financial Aid
- Degrees, Majors & Programs
- Job Opportunities
- Campus Security
- Global Education
- Diverse & Inclusive Excellence
© 2023 Kennesaw State University. All Rights Reserved.
- Privacy Statement
- Reporting Hotline
- Open Records
- Human Trafficking Notice
Similar articles being viewed by others
Slider with three articles shown per slide. Use the Previous and Next buttons to navigate the slides or the slide controller buttons at the end to navigate through each slide.
Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis: A Guide for Beginners
28 June 2021
Joseph L. Mathew
The ‘scientist’, the ‘analyst’ and the ‘novelist’: science or metrics?
22 December 2022
Systematic review and meta-analysis: a brief introduction
05 April 2022
Salil Vasudeo Deo & Vaishali Salil Deo
The Systematic Literature Review: Advantages and Applications in Nonprofit Scholarship
28 September 2021
Limited by our limitations
25 July 2019
Paula T. Ross & Nikki L. Bibler Zaidi
Assessing Publication Bias: a 7-Step User’s Guide with Best-Practice Recommendations
15 September 2022
Sven Kepes, Wenhao Wang & Jose M. Cortina
Open Synthesis: on the need for evidence synthesis to embrace Open Science
26 November 2018
Neal R. Haddaway
Reading and interpreting reviews for health professionals: a practical review
12 April 2020
Michele Antonelli, Fabio Firenzuoli, … Davide Donelli
Two decades of the bottom of the pyramid research: identifying the influencers, structure, and the evolution of the concept
23 May 2022
- Original Paper
- Open Access
- Published: 14 October 2022
Literature reviews as independent studies: guidelines for academic practice
- Sascha Kraus ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0003-4886-7482 1 , 2 ,
- Matthias Breier 3 ,
- Weng Marc Lim 4 , 8 , 22 ,
- Marina Dabić 5 , 6 ,
- Satish Kumar 7 , 8 ,
- Dominik Kanbach 9 , 10 ,
- Debmalya Mukherjee 11 ,
- Vincenzo Corvello 12 ,
- Juan Piñeiro-Chousa 13 ,
- Eric Liguori 14 ,
- Daniel Palacios-Marqués 15 ,
- Francesco Schiavone 16 , 17 ,
- Alberto Ferraris 18 , 21 ,
- Cristina Fernandes 19 , 20 &
- João J. Ferreira 19
Review of Managerial Science volume 16 , pages 2577–2595 ( 2022 ) Cite this article
Review articles or literature reviews are a critical part of scientific research. While numerous guides on literature reviews exist, these are often limited to the philosophy of review procedures, protocols, and nomenclatures, triggering non-parsimonious reporting and confusion due to overlapping similarities. To address the aforementioned limitations, we adopt a pragmatic approach to demystify and shape the academic practice of conducting literature reviews. We concentrate on the types, focuses, considerations, methods, and contributions of literature reviews as independent, standalone studies. As such, our article serves as an overview that scholars can rely upon to navigate the fundamental elements of literature reviews as standalone and independent studies, without getting entangled in the complexities of review procedures, protocols, and nomenclatures.
Working on a manuscript?
Avoid the most common mistakes and prepare your manuscript for journal editors.
A literature review – or a review article – is “a study that analyzes and synthesizes an existing body of literature by identifying, challenging, and advancing the building blocks of a theory through an examination of a body (or several bodies) of prior work (Post et al. 2020 , p. 352). Literature reviews as standalone pieces of work may allow researchers to enhance their understanding of prior work in their field, enabling them to more easily identify gaps in the body of literature and potential avenues for future research. More importantly, review articles may challenge established assumptions and norms of a given field or topic, recognize critical problems and factual errors, and stimulate future scientific conversations around that topic. Literature reviews Footnote 1 come in many different formats and purposes:
Some review articles conduct a critical evaluation of the literature, whereas others elect to adopt a more exploratory and descriptive approach.
Some reviews examine data, methodologies, and findings, whereas others look at constructs, themes, and theories.
Some reviews provide summaries by holistically synthesizing the existing research on a topic, whereas others adopt an integrative approach by assessing related and interdisciplinary work.
The number of review articles published as independent or standalone studies has been increasing over time. According to Scopus (i.e., search database ), reviews (i.e., document type ) were first published in journals (i.e., source type ) as independent studies in 1945, and they subsequently appeared in three digits yearly from the late 1980s to the late 1990s, four digits yearly from the early 2000s to the late 2010s, and five digits in the year 2021 (Fig. 1 ). This increase is indicative that reviewers and editors in business and management research alike see value and purpose in review articles to such a level that they are now commonly accepted as independent, standalone studies. This development is also reflected in the fact that some academic journals exclusively publish review articles (e.g., the Academy of Management Annals , or the International Journal of Management Reviews ), and journals publishing in various fields often have special issues dedicated to literature reviews on certain topic areas (e.g., the Journal of Management and the Journal of International Business Studies ).
Full-year publication trend of review articles on Scopus (1945–2021)
One of the most important prerequisites of a high-quality review article is that the work follows an established methodology, systematically selects and analyzes articles, and periodically covers the field to identify latest developments (Snyder 2019 ). Additionally, it needs to be reproducible, well-evidenced, and transparent, resulting in a sample inclusive of all relevant and appropriate studies (Gusenbauer and Haddaway 2020; Hansen et al. 2021 ). This observation is in line with Palmatier et al. ( 2018 ), who state that review articles provide an important synthesis of findings and perspectives in a given body of knowledge. Snyder ( 2019 ) also reaffirmed this rationale, pointing out that review articles have the power to answer research questions beyond that which can be achieved in a single study. Ultimately, readers of review articles stand to gain a one-stop, state-of-the-art synthesis (Lim et al. 2022a ; Popli et al. 2022) that encapsulates critical insights through the process of re-interpreting, re-organizing, and re-connecting a body knowledge (Fan et al. 2022 ).
There are many reasons to conduct review articles. Kraus et al. ( 2020 ) explicitly mention the benefits of conducting systematic reviews by declaring that they often represent the first step in the context of larger research projects, such as doctoral dissertations. When carrying out work of this kind, it is important that a holistic overview of the current state of literature is achieved and embedded into a proper synthesis. This allows researchers to pinpoint relevant research gaps and adequately fit future conceptual or empirical studies into the state of the academic discussion (Kraus et al., 2021 ). A review article as an independent or standalone study is a viable option for any academic – especially young scholars, such as doctoral candidates – who wishes to delve into a specific topic for which a (recent) review article is not available.
The process of conducting a review article can be challenging, especially for novice scholars (Boell and Cecez-Kecmanovic 2015 ). Therefore, it is not surprising that numerous guides have been written in an attempt to improve the quality of review studies and support emerging scholars in their endeavors to have their work published. These guides for conducting review articles span a variety of academic fields, such as engineering education (Borrego et al. 2014 ), health sciences (Cajal et al. 2020 ), psychology (Laher and Hassem 2020 ), supply chain management (Durach et al. 2017 ), or business and entrepreneurship (Kraus et al. 2020 ; Tranfield et al. 2003 ) – the latter were among the first scholars to recognize the need to educate business/management scholars on the roles of review studies in assembling, ascertaining, and assessing the intellectual territory of a specific knowledge domain. Furthermore, they shed light on the stages (i.e., planning the review, conducting the review, reporting, and dissemination) and phases (i.e., identifying the need for a review, preparation of a proposal for a review, development of a review protocol, identification of research, selection of studies, study quality assessment, data extraction and monitoring progress, data synthesis, the report and recommendations, and getting evidence into practice) of conducting a systematic review. Other scholars have either adapted and/or developed new procedures (Kraus et al. 2020 ; Snyder 2019 ) or established review protocols such as the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) flow diagram (Moher et al. 2015 ). The latter provides a checklist that improves transparency and reproducibility, thus reducing questionable research practices. The declarative and procedural knowledge of a checklist allows users to derive value from (and, in some cases, produce) methodological literature reviews.
Two distinct and critical gaps or issues provide impetus for our article. First, while the endeavors of the named scholars are undoubtedly valuable contributions, they often encourage other scholars to explain the methodology of their review studies in a non-parsimonious way ( 1st issue ). This can become problematic if this information distracts and deprives scholars from providing richer review findings, particularly in instances in which publication outlets impose a strict page and/or word limit. More often than not, the early parts (i.e., stages/phases, such as needs, aims, and scope) of these procedures or protocols are explained in the introduction, but they tend to be reiterated in the methodology section due to the prescription of these procedures or protocols. Other parts of these procedures or protocols could also be reported more parsimoniously, for example, by filtering out documents, given that scientific databases (such as Scopus or Web of Science ) have since been upgraded to allow scholars to select and implement filtering criteria when conducting a search (i.e., criterion-by-criterion filtering may no longer be necessary). More often than not, the procedures or protocols of review studies can be signposted (e.g., bracket labeling) and disclosed in a sharp and succinct manner while maintaining transparency and replicability.
Other guides have been written to introduce review nomenclatures (i.e., names/naming) and their equivalent philosophical underpinnings. Palmatier et al. ( 2018 ) introduced three clearly but broadly defined nomenclatures of literature reviews as independent studies: domain-based reviews, theory-based reviews, and method-based reviews. However, such review nomenclatures can be confusing due to their overlapping similarities ( 2nd issue ). For example, Lim et al. ( 2022a ) highlighted their observation that the review nomenclatures associated with domain-based reviews could also be used for theory-based and method-based reviews.
The two aforementioned issues – i.e., the lack of a parsimonious understanding and the reporting of the review methodology , and the confusion emerging from review nomenclatures – are inarguably the unintended outcomes of diving into an advanced (i.e., higher level) understanding of literature review procedures, protocols, and nomenclatures from a philosophical perspective (i.e., underpinnings) without a foundational (i.e., basic level) understanding of the fundamental (i.e., core) elements of literature reviews from a pragmatic perspective. Our article aims to shed light on these issues and hopes to provide clarity for future scholarly endeavors.
Having a foundational understanding of literature reviews as independent studies is (i) necessary when addressing the aforementioned issues; (ii) important in reconciling and scaffolding our understanding, and (iii) relevant and timely due to the proliferation of literature reviews as independent studies. To contribute a solution toward addressing this gap , we aim to demystify review articles as independent studies from a pragmatic standpoint (i.e., practicality). To do so, we deliberately (i) move away from review procedures, protocols, and nomenclatures, and (ii) invest our attention in developing a parsimonious, scaffolded understanding of the fundamental elements (i.e., types, focuses, considerations, methods, and contributions) of review articles as independent studies.
Three contributions distinguish our article. It is worth noting that pragmatic guides (i.e., foundational knowledge), such as the present one, are not at odds with extant philosophical guides (i.e., advanced knowledge), but rather they complement them. Having a foundational knowledge of the fundamental elements of literature reviews as independent studies is valuable , as it can help scholars to (i) gain a good grasp of the fundamental elements of literature reviews as independent studies ( 1st contribution ), and (ii) mindfully adopt or adapt existing review procedures, protocols, and nomenclatures to better suit the circumstances of their reviews (e.g., choosing and developing a well-defined review nomenclature, and choosing and reporting on review considerations and steps more parsimoniously) ( 2nd contribution ). Therefore, this pragmatic guide serves as (iii) a foundational article (i.e., preparatory understanding) for literature reviews as independent studies ( 3rd contribution ). Following this, extant guides using a philosophical approach (i.e., advanced understanding) could be relied upon to make informed review decisions (e.g., adoption, adaptation) in response to the conventions of extant review procedures, protocols, and nomenclatures (Fig. 2 ).
Foundational and advanced understanding of literature reviews as independent studies
2 Fundamental elements of literature reviews as independent studies
A foundational understanding of literature reviews as independent studies can be acquired through the appreciation of five fundamental elements – i.e., types, focuses, considerations, methods, and contributions – which are illustrated in Fig. 3 and summarized in the following sections.
Fundamental elements of literature reviews as independent studies
There are two types of literature reviews as independent studies: systematic literature reviews ( SLRs ) and non-systematic literature reviews ( non-SLRs ). It is important to recognize that SLRs and non-SLRs are not review nomenclatures (i.e., names/naming) but rather review types (i.e., classifications).
In particular, SLRs are reviews carried out in a systematic way using an adopted or adapted procedure or protocol to guide data curation and analysis, thus enabling transparent disclosure and replicability (Lim et al. 2022a ; Kraus et al. 2020 ). Therefore, any review nomenclature guided by a systematic methodology is essentially an SLR. The origin of this type of literature review can be traced back to the evidence-based medicine movement in the early 1990s, with the objective being to overcome the issue of inconclusive findings in studies for medical treatments (Boell and Cecez-Kecmanovic 2015 ).
In contrast, non-SLRs are reviews conducted without any systematic procedure or protocol; instead, they weave together relevant literature based on the critical evaluations and (subjective) choices of the author(s) through a process of discovery and critique (e.g., pointing out contradictions and questioning assertions or beliefs); they are shaped by the exposure, expertise, and experience (i.e., the “3Es” in judgement calls) of the author(s). Therefore, non-SLRs are essentially critical reviews of the literature (Lim and Weissmann 2021 ).
Unlike Palmatier et al. ( 2018 ) who considered domain-based reviews, theory-based reviews, and method-based reviews as review nomenclatures, we consider domain , theory , and method as three substantive focuses that can take center stage in literature reviews as independent studies. This is in line with our attempt to move away from review nomenclatures when providing a foundational understanding of literature reviews as independent studies.
A review that is domain-focused can examine: (i) a concept (e.g., customer engagement; Lim et al. 2022b ; digital transformation; Kraus et al. 2021 ; home sharing; Lim et al. 2021 ; sharing economy; Lim 2020 ), (ii) a context (e.g., India; Mukherjee et al. 2022a ), (iii) a discipline (e.g., entrepreneurship; Ferreira et al. 2015 ; international business; Ghauri et al. 2021 ), (iv) a field (e.g., family business; Lahiri et al. 2020 ; Rovelli et al. 2021 ; female entrepreneurship; Ojong et al. 2021 ), or (v) an outlet (e.g., Journal of Business Research ; Donthu et al. 2020 ; Management International Review ; Mukherjee et al. 2021 ; Review of Managerial Science ; Mas-Tur et al. 2020 ), which typically offer broad, overarching insights.
Domain-focused hybrids , such as the between-domain hybrid (e.g., concept-discipline hybrid, such as digital transformation in business and management; Kraus et al. 2022 ; religion in business and entrepreneurship; Kumar et al. 2022a ; personality traits in entrepreneurship; Salmony and Kanbach 2022 ; and policy implications in HR and OB research; Aguinis et al., 2022 ) and the within-domain hybrid (e.g., the concept-concept hybrid, such as customer engagement and social media; Lim and Rasul 2022 ; and global business and organizational excellence; Lim 2022 ; and the discipline-discipline hybrid, such as neuromarketing; Lim 2018 ) are also common as they can provide finer-grained insights.
A review that is theory-focused can explore a standalone theory (e.g., theory of planned behavior; Duan and Jiang 2008 ), as well as a theory in conjunction with a domain , such as the concept-theory hybrid (e.g., behavioral control and theory of planned behavior; Lim and Weissmann 2021 ) and the theory-discipline hybrid (e.g., theory of planned behavior in hospitality, leisure, and tourism; Ulker-Demirel and Ciftci 2020 ), or a theory in conjunction with a method (e.g., theory of planned behavior and structural equation modeling).
A review that is method-focused can investigate a standalone method (e.g., structural equation modeling; Deng et al. 2018 ) or a method in conjunction with a domain , such as the method-discipline hybrid (e.g., fsQCA in business and management; Kumar et al. 2022b ).
2.3 Planning the review, critical considerations, and data collection
The considerations required for literature reviews as independent studies depend on their type: SLRs or non-SLRs.
For non-SLRs, scholars often rely on the 3Es (i.e., exposure, expertise, and experience) to provide a critical review of the literature. Scholars who embark on non-SLRs should be well versed with the literature they are dealing with. They should know the state of the literature (e.g., debatable, underexplored, and well-established knowledge areas) and how it needs to be deciphered (e.g., tenets and issues) and approached (e.g., reconciliation proposals and new pathways) to advance theory and practice. In this regard, non-SLRs follow a deductive reasoning approach, whereby scholars initially develop a set of coverage areas for reviewing a domain, theory, or method and subsequently draw on relevant literature to shed light and support scholarly contentions in each area.
For SLRs, scholars often rely on a set of criteria to provide a well-scoped (i.e., breadth and depth), structured (i.e., organized aspects), integrated (i.e., synthesized evidence) and interpreted/narrated (i.e., describing what has happened, how and why) systematic review of the literature. Footnote 2 In this regard, SLRs follow an inductive reasoning approach, whereby a set of criteria is established and implemented to develop a corpus of scholarly documents that scholars can review. They can then deliver a state-of-the-art overview, as well as a future agenda for a domain, theory, or method. Such criteria are often listed in philosophical guides on SLR procedures (e.g., Kraus et al. 2020 ; Snyder 2019 ) and protocols (e.g., PRISMA), and they may be adopted/adapted with justifications Footnote 3 . Based on their commonalities they can be summarized as follows:
Search database (e.g., “Scopus” and/or “Web of Science”) can be defined based on justified evidence (e.g., by the two being the largest scientific databases of scholarly articles that can provide on-demand bibliographic data or records; Pranckutė 2021 ). To avoid biased outcomes due to the scope covered by the selected database, researchers could utilize two or more different databases (Dabić et al. 2021 ).
Search keywords may be developed by reading scholarly documents and subsequently brainstorming with experts. The expanding number of databases, journals, periodicals, automated approaches, and semi-automated procedures that use text mining and machine learning can offer researchers the ability to source new, relevant research and forecast the citations of influential studies. This enables them to determine further relevant articles.
Boolean operators (e.g., AND, OR) should be strategically used in developing the string of search keywords (e.g., “engagement” AND “customer” OR “consumer” OR “business”). Furthermore, the correct and precise application of quotation marks is important but is very frequently sidestepped, resulting in incorrect selection processes and differentiated results.
Search period (e.g., between a specified period [e.g., 2000 to 2020] or up to the latest full year at the time or writing [e.g., up to 2021]) can be defined based on the justified scope of study (e.g., contemporary evolution versus historical trajectory).
Search field (e.g., “article title, abstract, keywords”) can be defined based on justified assumptions (e.g., it is assumed that the focus of relevant documents will be mentioned in the article title, abstract, and/or keywords).
Subject area (e.g., “business, management, and accounting”) can be defined based on justified principles (e.g., the focus of the review is on the marketing discipline, which is located under the “business, management, and accounting” subject area in Scopus).
Publication stage (e.g., “final”) can be defined based on justified grounds (e.g., enabling greater accuracy in replication).
Document type (e.g., “article” and/or “review”), which reflects the type of scientific/practical contributions (e.g., empirical, synthesis, thought), can be defined based on justified rationales (e.g., articles selected because they are peer-reviewed; editorials not selected because they are not peer-reviewed).
Source type (e.g., “journal”) can be defined based on justified reasons (e.g., journals selected because they publish finalized work; conference proceedings not selected because they are work in progress, and in business/management, they are usually not being considered as full-fledged “publications”).
Language (e.g., “English”) can be determined based on justified limitations (e.g., nowadays, there are not many reasons to use another language besides the academic lingua franca English). Different spellings should also be considered, as the literature may contain both American and British spelling variants (e.g., organization and organisation). Truncation and wildcards in searches are recommended to capture both sets of spellings. It is important to note that each database varies in its symbology.
Quality filtering (e.g., “A*” and “A” or “4*”, “4”, and “3”) can be defined based on justified motivations (e.g., the goal is to unpack the most originally and rigorously produced knowledge, which is the hallmark of premier journals, such as those ranked “A*” and “A” by the Australian Business Deans Council [ABDC] Journal Quality List [JQL] and rated “4*”, “4”, and “3” by the Chartered Association of Business Schools [CABS] Academic Journal Guide [AJG]).
Document relevance (i.e., within the focus of the review) can be defined based on justified judgement (e.g., for a review focusing on customer engagement, articles that mention customer engagement as a passing remark without actually investigating it would be excluded).
Others: Screening process should be accomplished by beginning with the deduction of duplicate results from other databases, tracked using abstract screening to exclude unfitting studies, and ending with the full-text screening of the remaining documents.
Others: Exclusion-inclusion criteria interpretation of the abstracts/articles is obligatory when deciding whether or not the articles dealt with the matter. This step could involve removing a huge percentage of initially recognized articles.
Others: Codebook building pertains to the development of a codebook of the main descriptors within a specific field. An inductive approach can be followed and, in this case, descriptors are not established beforehand. Instead, they are established through the analysis of the articles’ content. This procedure is made up of several stages: (i) the extraction of important content from titles, abstracts, and keywords; (ii) the classification of this content to form a reduced list of the core descriptors; and (iii) revising the codebook in iterations and combining similar categories, thus developing a short list of descriptors (López-Duarte et al. 2016 , p. 512; Dabić et al. 2015 ; Vlacic et al. 2021 ).
Various methods are used to analyze the pertinent literature. Often, scholars choose a method for corpus analysis before corpus curation. Knowing the analytical technique beforehand is useful, as it allows researchers to acquire and prepare the right data in the right format. This typically occurs when scholars have decided upon and justified pursuing a specific review nomenclature upfront (e.g., bibliometric reviews) based on the problem at hand (e.g., broad domain [outlet] with a large corpus [thousands of articles], such as a premier journal that has been publishing for decades) (Donthu et al. 2021 ). However, this may not be applicable in instances where (i) scholars do not curate a corpus of articles (non-SLRs), and (ii) scholars only know the size of the corpus of articles once that corpus is curated (SLRs). Therefore, scholars may wish to decide on a method of analyzing the literature depending on (i) whether they rely on a corpus of articles (i.e., yes or no), and (ii) the size of the corpus of articles that they rely on to review the literature (i.e., n = 0 to ∞).
When analytical techniques (e.g., bibliometric analysis, critical analysis, meta-analysis) are decoupled from review nomenclatures (e.g., bibliometric reviews, critical reviews, meta-analytical reviews), we uncover a toolbox of the following methods for use when analyzing the literature:
Bibliometric analysis measures the literature and processes data by using algorithm, arithmetic, and statistics to analyze, explore, organize, and investigate large amounts of data. This enables scholars to identify and recognize potential “hidden patterns” that could help them during the literature review process. Bibliometrics allows scholars to objectively analyze a large corpus of articles (e.g., high hundreds or more) using quantitative techniques (Donthu et al. 2021 ). There are two overarching categories for bibliometric analysis: performance analysis and science mapping. Performance analysis enables scholars to assess the productivity (publication) and impact (citation) of the literature relating to a domain, method, or theory using various quantitative metrics (e.g., average citations per publication or year, h -index, g -index, i -index). Science mapping grants scholars the ability to map the literature in that domain, method, or theory based on bibliographic data (e.g., bibliographic coupling generates thematic clusters based on similarities in shared bibliographic data [e.g., references] among citing articles; co-citation analysis generates thematic clusters based on commonly cited articles; co-occurrence analysis generates thematic clusters based on bibliographic data [e.g., keywords] that commonly appear together; PageRank analysis generates thematic clusters based on articles that are commonly cited in highly cited articles; and topic modeling generates thematic clusters based on the natural language processing of bibliographic data [e.g., article title, abstract, and keywords]). Footnote 4 Given the advancement in algorithms and technology, reviews using bibliometric analysis are considered to be smart (Kraus et al. 2021 ) and technologically-empowered (Kumar et al. 2022b ) SLRs, in which a review has harnessed the benefits of (i) the machine learning of the bibliographic data of scholarly research from technologically-empowered scientific databases, and (ii) big data analytics involving various science mapping techniques (Kumar et al. 2022c ).
Content analysis allows scholars to analyze a small to medium corpus of articles (i.e., tens to low hundreds) using quantitative and qualitative techniques. From a quantitative perspective , scholars can objectively carry out a content analysis by quantifying a specific unit of analysis . A useful method of doing so involves adopting, adapting, or developing an organizing framework . For example, Lim et al. ( 2021 ) employed an organizing (ADO-TCM) framework to quantify content in academic literature based on: (i) the categories of knowledge; (ii) the relationships between antecedents, decisions, and outcomes; and (iii) the theories, contexts, and methods used to develop the understanding for (i) and (ii). The rapid evolution of software for content analysis allows scholars to carry out complex elaborations on the corpus of analyzed articles, so much so that the most recent software enables the semi-automatic development of an organizing framework (Ammirato et al. 2022 ). From a qualitative perspective , scholars can conduct a content analysis or, more specifically, a thematic analysis , by subjectively organizing the content into themes. For example, Creevey et al. ( 2022 ) reviewed the literature on social media and luxury, providing insights on five core themes (i.e., luxury brand strategy, luxury brand social media communications, luxury consumer attitudes and perceptions, engagement, and the influence of social media on brand performance-related outcomes) generated through a content (thematic) analysis. Systematic approaches for inductive concept development through qualitative research are similarly applied in literature reviews in an attempt to reduce the subjectivity of derived themes. Following the principles of the approach by Gioia et al. ( 2012 ), Korherr and Kanbach ( 2021 ) develop a taxonomy of human-related capabilities in big data analytics. Building on a sample of 75 studies for the literature review, 33 first-order concepts are identified. These are categorized into 15 second-order themes and are finally merged into five aggregate dimensions. Using the same procedure, Leemann and Kanbach ( 2022 ) identify 240 idiosyncratic dynamic capabilities in a sample of 34 studies for their literature review. They then categorize these into 19 dynamic sub-capabilities. The advancement of technology also makes it possible to conduct content analysis using computer assisted qualitative data analysis (CAQDA) software (e.g., ATLAS.ti, Nvivo, Quirkos) (Lim et al. 2022a ).
Critical analysis allows scholars to subjectively use their 3Es (i.e., exposure, expertise, and experience) to provide a critical evaluation of academic literature. This analysis is typically used in non-SLRs, and can be deployed in tandem with other analyses, such as bibliometric analysis and content analysis in SLRs, which are used to discuss consensual, contradictory, and underexplored areas of the literature. For SLRs, scholars are encouraged to engage in critical evaluations of the literature so that they can truly contribute to advancing theory and practice (Baker et al. 2022 ; Lim et al. 2022a ; Mukherjee et al. 2022b ).
Meta-analysis allows scholars to objectively establish a quantitative estimate of commonly studied relationships in the literature (Grewal et al. 2018 ). This analysis is typically employed in SLRs intending to reconcile a myriad of relationships (Lim et al. 2022a ). The relationships established are often made up of conflicting evidence (e.g., a positive or significant effect in one study, but a negative or non-significant effect in another study). However, through meta-analysis, scholars are able to identify potential factors (e.g., contexts or sociodemographic information) that may have led to the conflict.
Others: Multiple correspondence analysis helps to map the field, assessing the associations between qualitative content within a matrix of variables and cases. Homogeneity Analysis by Means of Alternating Least Squares ( HOMALS ) is also considered useful in allowing researchers to map out the intellectual structure of a variety of research fields (Gonzalez-Loureiro et al. 2015 ; Gonzalez-Louriero 2021; Obradović et al. 2021 ). HOMALS can be performed in R or used along with a matrix through SPSS software. In summary, the overall objective of this analysis is to discover a low dimensional representation of the original high dimensional space (i.e., the matrix of descriptors and articles). To measure the goodness of fit, a loss function is used. This function is used minimally, and the HOMALS algorithm is applied to the least squares loss functions in SPSS. This analysis provides a proximity map, in which articles and descriptors are shown in low-dimensional spaces (typically on two axes). Keywords are paired and each couple that appears together in a large number of articles is shown to be closer on the map and vice-versa.
When conducting a literature review, software solutions allow researchers to cover a broad range of variables, from built-in functions of statistical software packages to software orientated towards meta-analyses, and from commercial to open-source solutions. Personal preference plays a huge role, but the decision as to which software will be the most useful is entirely dependent on how complex the methods and the dataset are. Of all the commercial software providers, we have found the built-in functions of (i) R and VOSviewer most useful in performing bibliometric analysis (Aria and Cuccurullo 2017 ; R Core Team 2021 ; Van Eck and Waltman 2014 ) and (ii) Stata most useful in performing meta-analytical tasks.
Many different analytical tools have been used. These include simple document counting, citation analysis, word frequency analysis, cluster analysis, co-word analysis, and cooperation analysis (Daim et al. 2006 ). Software has also been produced for bibliometric analysis, such as the Thomson Data Analyzer (TDA), which Thomson Reuters created, and CiteSpace developed by Chen ( 2013 ). VOSviewer helps us to construct and visualize bibliometric networks, which can include articles, journals, authors, countries, and institutions, among others (Van Eck and Waltman 2014 ). These can be organized based on citations, co-citations, bibliographic coupling, or co-authorship relations. In addition, VOSviewer provides text mining functions, which can be used to facilitate a better understanding of co-occurrence networks with regards to the key terms taken from a body of scientific literature (Donthu et al. 2021 ; Wong 2018 ). Other frequently used tools include for bibliometric analysis include Bibliometrix/Biblioshiny in R, CitNetExplorer, and Gephi, among others.
Well-conducted literature reviews may make multiple contributions to the literature as standalone, independent studies.
Generally, there are three primary contributions of literature reviews as independent studies: (i) to provide an overview of current knowledge in the domain, method, or theory, (ii) to provide an evaluation of knowledge progression in the domain, method, or theory, including the establishment of key knowledge, conflicting or inconclusive findings, and emerging and underexplored areas, and (iii) to provide a proposal for potential pathways for advancing knowledge in the domain, method, or theory (Lim et al. 2022a , p. 487). Developing theory through literature reviews can take many forms, including organizing and categorizing the literature, problematizing the literature, identifying and exposing contradictions, developing analogies and metaphors, and setting out new narratives and conceptualizations (Breslin and Gatrell 2020 ). Taken collectively, these contributions offer crystalized, evidence-based insights that both ‘mine’ and ‘prospect’ the literature, highlighting extant gaps and how they can be resolved (e.g., flags paradoxes or theoretical tensions, explaining why something has not been done, what the challenges are, and how these challenges can be overcome). These contributions can be derived through successful bibliometric analysis, content analysis, critical analysis, and meta-analysis.
Additionally, the deployment of specific methods can bring in further added value. For example, a performance analysis in a bibliometric analysis can contribute to: (i) objectively assessing and reporting research productivity and impact ; (ii) ascertaining reach for coverage claims ; (iii) identifying social dominance and hidden biases ; (iv) detecting anomalies ; and (v) evaluating ( equitable ) relative performance ; whereas science mapping in bibliometric analysis can contribute to: (i) objectively discovering thematic clusters of knowledge ; (ii) clarifying nomological networks ; (iii) mapping social patterns ; (iv) tracking evolutionary nuances ; and (v) recognizing knowledge gaps (Mukherjee et al. 2022b , p. 105).
Independent literature reviews will continue to be written as a result of their necessity, importance, relevance, and urgency when it comes to advancing knowledge (Lim et al. 2022a ; Mukherjee et al. 2022b ), and this can be seen in the increasing number of reviews being published over the last several years. Literature reviews advance academic discussion. Journal publications on various topics and subject areas are becoming more frequent sites for publication. This trend will only heighten the need for literature reviews. This article offers directions and control points that address the needs of three different stakeholder groups: producers (i.e., potential authors), evaluators (i.e., journal editors and reviewers), and users (i.e., new researchers looking to learn more about a particular methodological issue, and those teaching the next generation of scholars). Future producers will derive value from this article’s teachings on the different fundamental elements and methodological nuances of literature reviews. Procedural knowledge (i.e., using control points to assist in decision-making during the manuscript preparation phase) will also be of use. Evaluators will be able to make use of the procedural and declarative knowledge evident in control points as well. As previously outlined, the need to cultivate novelty within research on business and management practices is vital. Scholars must also be supported to choose not only safe mining approaches; they should also be encouraged to attempt more challenging and risky ventures. It is important to note that abstracts often seem to offer a lot of potential, stating that authors intend to make large conceptual contributions, broadening the horizons of the field.
Our article offers important insights also for practitioners. Noteworthily, our framework can support corporate managers in decomposing and better understanding literature reviews as ad-hoc and independent studies about specific topics that matter for their organization. For instance, practitioners can understand more easily what are the emerging trends within their domain of interest and make corporate decisions in line with such trends.
This article arises from an intentional decoupling from philosophy, in favor of adopting a more pragmatic approach. This approach can assist us in clarifying the fundamental elements of literature reviews as independent studies. Five fundamental elements must be considered: types, focuses, considerations, methods, and contributions. These elements offer a useful frame for scholars starting to work on a literature review. Overview articles (guides) such as ours are thus invaluable, as they equip scholars with a solid foundational understanding of the integral elements of a literature review. Scholars can then put these teachings into practice, armed with a better understanding of the philosophy that underpins the procedures, protocols, and nomenclatures of literature reviews as independent studies.
Our manuscript has no associate data.
Our focus here is on standalone literature reviews in contrast with literature reviews that form the theoretical foundation for a research article.
Scoping reviews, structured reviews, integrative reviews, and interpretive/narrative reviews are commonly found in review nomenclature. However, the philosophy of these review nomenclatures essentially reflects what constitutes a good SLR. That is to say, a good SLR should be well scoped, structured, integrated, and interpreted/narrated. This observation reaffirms our position and the value of moving away from review nomenclatures to gain a foundational understanding of literature reviews as independent studies.
Given that many of these considerations can be implemented simultaneously in contemporary versions of scientific databases, scholars may choose to consolidate them into a single (or a few) step(s), where appropriate, so that they can be reported more parsimoniously. For a parsimonious but transparent and replicable exemplar, see Lim ( 2022 ).
Where keywords are present (e.g., author keywords or keywords derived from machine learning [e.g., natural language processing]), it is assumed that each keyword represents a specific meaning (e.g., topic [concept, context], method), and that a collection of keywords grouped under the same cluster represents a specific theme.
Aguinis H, Jensen SH, Kraus S (2022) Policy implications of organizational behavior and human resource management research. Acad Manage Perspect 36(3):1–22
Article Google Scholar
Ammirato S, Felicetti AM, Rogano D, Linzalone R, Corvello V (2022) Digitalising the systematic literature review process: The My SLR platform. Knowl Manage Res Pract. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/14778238.2022.2041375
Aria M, Cuccurullo C (2017) bibliometrix: An R-tool for comprehensive science mapping analysis. J Informetrics 11(4):959–975
Baker WE, Mukherjee D, Perin MG (2022) Learning orientation and competitive advantage: A critical synthesis and future directions. J Bus Res 144:863–873
Boell SK, Cecez-Kecmanovic D (2015) On being ‘systematic’ in literature reviews. J Inform Technol 30:161–173
Borrego M, Foster MJ, Froyd JE (2014) Systematic literature reviews in engineering education and other developing interdisciplinary fields. J Eng Educ 103(1):45–76
Breslin D, Gatrell C (2020) Theorizing through literature reviews: The miner-prospector continuum. Organizational Res Methods. https://doi.org/10.1177/1094428120943288 (in press)
Cajal B, Jiménez R, Gervilla E, Montaño JJ (2020) Doing a systematic review in health sciences. Clínica y Salud 31(2):77–83
Chen C (2013) Mapping scientific frontiers: The quest for knowledge visualization. Springer Science & Business Media
Creevey D, Coughlan J, O’Connor C (2022) Social media and luxury: A systematic literature review. Int J Manage Reviews 24(1):99–129
Dabić M, González-Loureiro M, Harvey M (2015) Evolving research on expatriates: what is ‘known’after four decades (1970–2012). Int J Hum Resource Manage 26(3):316–337
Dabić M, Vlačić B, Kiessling T, Caputo A, Pellegrini M(2021) Serial entrepreneurs: A review of literature and guidance for future research.Journal of Small Business Management,1–36
Daim TU, Rueda G, Martin H, Gerdsri P (2006) Forecasting emerging technologies: Use of bibliometrics and patent analysis. Technol Forecast Soc Chang 73(8):981–1012
Deng L, Yang M, Marcoulides KM (2018) Structural equation modeling with many variables: A systematic review of issues and developments. Front Psychol 9:580
Donthu N, Kumar S, Pattnaik D (2020) Forty-five years of Journal of Business Research: A bibliometric analysis. J Bus Res 109:1–14
Donthu N, Kumar S, Mukherjee D, Pandey N, Lim WM (2021) How to conduct a bibliometric analysis: An overview and guidelines. J Bus Res 133:285–296
Duan W, Jiang G (2008) A review of the theory of planned behavior. Adv Psychol Sci 16(2):315–320
Durach CF, Kembro J, Wieland A (2017) A new paradigm for systematic literature reviews in supply chain management. J Supply Chain Manage 53(4):67–85
Fan D, Breslin D, Callahan JL, Szatt-White M (2022) Advancing literature review methodology through rigour, generativity, scope and transparency. Int J Manage Reviews 24(2):171–180
Ferreira MP, Reis NR, Miranda R (2015) Thirty years of entrepreneurship research published in top journals: Analysis of citations, co-citations and themes. J Global Entrepreneurship Res 5(1):1–22
Ghauri P, Strange R, Cooke FL (2021) Research on international business: The new realities. Int Bus Rev 30(2):101794
Gioia DA, Corley KG, Hamilton AL (2012) Seeking qualitative rigor in inductive research: Notes on the gioia methodology. Organizational Res Methods 16(1):15–31
Gonzalez-Loureiro M, Dabić M, Kiessling T (2015) Supply chain management as the key to a firm’s strategy in the global marketplace: Trends and research agenda. Int J Phys Distribution Logistics Manage 45(1/2):159–181. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPDLM-05-2013-0124
Grewal D, Puccinelli N, Monroe KB (2018) Meta-analysis: Integrating accumulated knowledge. J Acad Mark Sci 46(1):9–30
Hansen C, Steinmetz H, Block J(2021) How to conduct a meta-analysis in eight steps: a practical guide.Management Review Quarterly,1–19
Korherr P, Kanbach DK (2021) Human-related capabilities in big data analytics: A taxonomy of human factors with impact on firm performance. RMS. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11846-021-00506-4 (in press)
Kraus S, Breier M, Dasí-Rodríguez S (2020) The art of crafting a systematic literature review in entrepreneurship research. Int Entrepreneurship Manage J 16(3):1023–1042
Kraus S, Durst S, Ferreira J, Veiga P, Kailer N, Weinmann A (2022) Digital transformation in business and management research: An overview of the current status quo. Int J Inf Manag 63:102466
Kraus S, Jones P, Kailer N, Weinmann A, Chaparro-Banegas N, Roig-Tierno N (2021) Digital transformation: An overview of the current state of the art of research. Sage Open 11(3):1–15
Kraus S, Mahto RV, Walsh ST (2021) The importance of literature reviews in small business and entrepreneurship research. J Small Bus Manage. https://doi.org/10.1080/00472778.2021.1955128 (in press)
Kumar S, Sahoo S, Lim WM, Dana LP (2022a) Religion as a social shaping force in entrepreneurship and business: Insights from a technology-empowered systematic literature review. Technol Forecast Soc Chang 175:121393
Kumar S, Sahoo S, Lim WM, Kraus S, Bamel U (2022b) Fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) in business and management research: A contemporary overview. Technol Forecast Soc Chang 178:121599
Kumar S, Sharma D, Rao S, Lim WM, Mangla SK (2022c) Past, present, and future of sustainable finance: Insights from big data analytics through machine learning of scholarly research. Ann Oper Res. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10479-021-04410-8 (in press)
Laher S, Hassem T (2020) Doing systematic reviews in psychology. South Afr J Psychol 50(4):450–468
Leemann N, Kanbach DK (2022) Toward a taxonomy of dynamic capabilities – a systematic literature review. Manage Res Rev 45(4):486–501
Lahiri S, Mukherjee D, Peng MW (2020) Behind the internationalization of family SMEs: A strategy tripod synthesis. Glob Strategy J 10(4):813–838
Lim WM (2018) Demystifying neuromarketing. J Bus Res 91:205–220
Lim WM (2020) The sharing economy: A marketing perspective. Australasian Mark J 28(3):4–13
Lim WM (2022) Ushering a new era of Global Business and Organizational Excellence: Taking a leaf out of recent trends in the new normal. Global Bus Organizational Excellence 41(5):5–13
Lim WM, Rasul T (2022) Customer engagement and social media: Revisiting the past to inform the future. J Bus Res 148:325–342
Lim WM, Weissmann MA (2021) Toward a theory of behavioral control. J Strategic Mark. https://doi.org/10.1080/0965254X.2021.1890190 (in press)
Lim WM, Kumar S, Ali F (2022a) Advancing knowledge through literature reviews: ‘What’, ‘why’, and ‘how to contribute’. Serv Ind J 42(7–8):481–513
Lim WM, Rasul T, Kumar S, Ala M (2022b) Past, present, and future of customer engagement. J Bus Res 140:439–458
Lim WM, Yap SF, Makkar M (2021) Home sharing in marketing and tourism at a tipping point: What do we know, how do we know, and where should we be heading? J Bus Res 122:534–566
López-Duarte C, González-Loureiro M, Vidal-Suárez MM, González-Díaz B (2016) International strategic alliances and national culture: Mapping the field and developing a research agenda. J World Bus 51(4):511–524
Mas-Tur A, Kraus S, Brandtner M, Ewert R, Kürsten W (2020) Advances in management research: A bibliometric overview of the Review of Managerial Science. RMS 14(5):933–958
Moher D, Shamseer L, Clarke M, Ghersi D, Liberati A, Petticrew M, Shekelle P, Stewart LA (2015) Preferred reporting items for systematic review and meta-analysis protocols (PRISMA-P) 2015 statement. Syst Reviews 4(1):1–9
Mukherjee D, Kumar S, Donthu N, Pandey N (2021) Research published in Management International Review from 2006 to 2020: A bibliometric analysis and future directions. Manage Int Rev 61:599–642
Mukherjee D, Kumar S, Mukherjee D, Goyal K (2022a) Mapping five decades of international business and management research on India: A bibliometric analysis and future directions. J Bus Res 145:864–891
Mukherjee D, Lim WM, Kumar S, Donthu N (2022b) Guidelines for advancing theory and practice through bibliometric research. J Bus Res 148:101–115
Obradović T, Vlačić B, Dabić M (2021) Open innovation in the manufacturing industry: A review and research agenda. Technovation 102:102221
Ojong N, Simba A, Dana LP (2021) Female entrepreneurship in Africa: A review, trends, and future research directions. J Bus Res 132:233–248
Palmatier RW, Houston MB, Hulland J (2018) Review articles: Purpose, process, and structure. J Acad Mark Sci 46(1):1–5
Post C, Sarala R, Gatrell C, Prescott JE (2020) Advancing theory with review articles. J Manage Stud 57(2):351–376
Pranckutė R (2021) Web of Science (WoS) and Scopus: The titans of bibliographic information in today’s academic world. Publications 9(1):12
R Core Team (2021) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. URL https://www.R-project.org/ Accessed 20th July 2022
Rovelli P, Ferasso M, De Massis A, Kraus S(2021) Thirty years of research in family business journals: Status quo and future directions.Journal of Family Business Strategy,100422
Salmony FU, Kanbach DK (2022) Personality trait differences across types of entrepreneurs: a systematic literature review. RMS 16:713–749
Snyder H (2019) Literature review as a research methodology: An overview and guidelines. J Bus Res 104:333–339
Tranfield D, Denyer D, Smart P (2003) Towards a methodology for developing evidence-informed management knowledge by means of systematic review. Br J Manag 14(3):207–222
Ulker-Demirel E, Ciftci G (2020) A systematic literature review of the theory of planned behavior in tourism, leisure and hospitality management research. J Hospitality Tourism Manage 43:209–219
Van Eck NJ, Waltma L (2014) CitNetExplorer: A new software tool for analyzing and visualizing citation networks. J Informetrics 8(4):802–823
Vlačić B, Corbo L, Silva e, Dabić M (2021) The evolving role of artificial intelligence in marketing: A review and research agenda. J Bus Res 128:187–203
Wong D (2018) VOSviewer. Tech Serv Q 35(2):219–220. https://doi.org/10.1080/07317131.2018.1425352
Open access funding provided by Libera Università di Bolzano within the CRUI-CARE Agreement.
Authors and affiliations.
Faculty of Economics & Management, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Bolzano, Italy
Department of Business Management, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
School of Business, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Lappeenranta, Finland
Sunway University Business School, Sunway University, Sunway City, Malaysia
Weng Marc Lim
Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia
School of Economics and Business, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Department of Management Studies, Malaviya National Institute of Technology Jaipur, Jaipur, India
Faculty of Business, Design and Arts, Swinburne University of Technology, Kuching, Malaysia
Weng Marc Lim & Satish Kumar
Chair of Strategic Management and Digital Entrepreneurship, HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management, Leipzig, Germany
School of Business, Woxsen University, Hyderabad, India
College of Business, The University of Akron, Akron, USA
Department of Engineering, University of Messina, Messina, Italy
Department of Finance, Santiago de Compostela University, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Rowan University, Rohrer College of Business, Glassboro, NJ, USA
School of Engineering Design, Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, Valencia, Spain
Department of Management and Quantitative Studies, Parthenope University, Naples, Italy
Paris School of Business, Paris, France
Department of Management, University of Turin, Turin, Italy
Department of Management and Economics & NECE Research Unit in Business Sciences, University of Beira Interior, Covilha, Portugal
Cristina Fernandes & João J. Ferreira
Centre for Corporate Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK
Laboratory for International and Regional Economics, Graduate School of Economics and Management, Ural Federal University, Yekaterinburg, Russia
School of Business, Law and Entrepreneurship, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia
You can also search for this author in PubMed Google Scholar
Correspondence to Sascha Kraus .
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Rights and permissions
Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ .
Reprints and Permissions
About this article
Cite this article.
Kraus, S., Breier, M., Lim, W.M. et al. Literature reviews as independent studies: guidelines for academic practice. Rev Manag Sci 16 , 2577–2595 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11846-022-00588-8
Received : 15 August 2022
Accepted : 07 September 2022
Published : 14 October 2022
Issue Date : November 2022
DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/s11846-022-00588-8
Share this article
Anyone you share the following link with will be able to read this content:
Sorry, a shareable link is not currently available for this article.
Provided by the Springer Nature SharedIt content-sharing initiative
- Literature reviews
- Meta Analysis
2. Structure of the Literature Review · organize the review into paragraphs that present themes and identify trends relevant to your topic · each
Consider possible ways of organizing your literature review: Chronological, ie. · Use Cooper's taxonomy to explore and determine what elements
A literature review is structured similarly to other research essays, opening with an introduction that explains the topic and summarizes how
Pick an organizational structure, i.e., themes, approaches, concepts, methodologies. · Organize your citations and focus on your research
Library & Research Help · Chronological: The chronological framework organizes the literature in the order in which they are published. · Thematic
Ultimately, your review “tells a story” by critically analyzing the literature ... well-organized literature review that contains relevant information is
Literature Review Format · Find the best organizational method for your review. · Summarize sources by providing the most relevant information.
This literature review assignment may be used as part of an ongoing research project, ... Section 2: Organizing, Analyzing, and Engaging with Sources
Keeping organized notes will help prevent a weak literature review. • Every statement in a literature review must be supported either by a reference to.
A literature review – or a review article – is “a study that analyzes and synthesizes an existing body of literature by identifying