Literature and systematic reviews
All research, whatever the discipline, needs to be situated in relation to what has already been done in the field.
Reviewing the literature helps you:
- find out what is already known about a topic in order to locate gaps and justify the research being undertaken
- locate the work of important theorists whose ideas will inform the research
- identify useful methodologies, methods and documentary sources
It is important to be systematic in your approach. This includes developing a plan for your search, and keeping records of the searches you carry out.
Systematic review is a type of literature review. Unlike other forms of review, where authors can include any articles they consider appropriate, a systematic review aims to remove the reviewer's biases by following a clearly defined, transparent process.
There are a number of steps in the process, and each needs to be documented effectively to ensure the process can be replicated by others in the future.