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Narrative literature reviews

In this step, we explain narrative literature reviews and how they differ from systematic literature reviews.
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0

So far, we’ve explored what a systematic review is but it is useful to know about other types of literature review.

A narrative literature review is fairly broad, as it involves gathering, critiquing and summarising journal articles and textbooks about a particular topic. These are generally undertaken to get an overview of a topic and potentially identify gaps in the literature.

How does it differ from a systematic literature review?

Narrative reviews tend to have broader research questions than systematic reviews. Readers are generally not aware of the methodology of conducting narrative reviews, whereas the selection criteria and processes for systematic reviews are usually published.

Furthermore, systematic reviews tend to use specific search terms and inclusion/exclusion criteria, whereas the criteria for narrative reviews may not be as strict.

Pros of narrative literature reviews Cons of narrative literature reviews
A comprehensive perspective can be given on specific topics. A lack of systematic selection of studies could lead to biased interpretation of results.
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
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Systematic Literature Review: An Introduction

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