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Preparing for a Comprehensive Literature Review

Preparing for a Comprehensive Literature Review

Graduate students are frequently required to conduct a comprehensive literature review as part of their thesis/dissertation work. The type of review for these purposes differs from the typical review that students undertake for term papers in that the review must go beyond identification and discussion of  'a few good articles'.  Instead, the review must identify as far as possible all studies that meet a set of criteria and provide a more in-depth analysis of the research addressing their topic.

Masters students in a non-thesis program may be required to conduct a comprehensive review as a capping project.  In this case, the review they undertake may take the form of a 'scaled down' version of one of the comprehensive review types.  Nonetheless, the student may still be expected to follow the accepted guidelines for the review type which may include searching multiple sources, documenting the search strategy and reporting results in a standard format.

This guide is intended to assist graduate students in preparing for a comprehensive literature and covers the following:

  • Identifying a relevant review topic/question
  • Selecting an appropriate type of review
  • Developing a review protocol/proposal
  • Format of reviews
  • The role of subject librarians in the review process

This guide focuses on the preparation for a review.  For guidance regarding systematic review searching visit the Systematic Reviews - Searching the Literature guide.