Traditional or narrative literature reviews
A narrative or traditional literature review is a comprehensive, critical and objective analysis of the current knowledge on a topic. They are an essential part of the research process and help to establish a theoretical framework and focus or context for your research. A literature review will help you to identify patterns and trends in the literature so that you can identify gaps or inconsistencies in a body of knowledge. This should lead you to a sufficiently focused research question that justifies your research.
Onwuegbuzie and Frels (pp 24-25, 2016) define four common types of narrative reviews:
- General literature review that provides a review of the most important and critical aspects of the current knowledge of the topic. This general literature review forms the introduction to a thesis or dissertation and must be defined by the research objective, underlying hypothesis or problem or the reviewer's argumentative thesis.
- Theoretical literature review which examines how theory shapes or frames research
- Methodological literature review where the research methods and design are described. These methodological reviews outline the strengths and weaknesses of the methods used and provide future direction
- Historical literature review which focus on examining research throughout a period of time, often starting with the first time an issue, concept, theory, phenomena emerged in the literature, then tracing its evolution within the scholarship of a discipline. The purpose is to place research in a historical context to show familiarity with state-of-the-art developments and to identify the likely directions for future research.
References and additional resources
Baker, J. D. The purpose, process and methods of writing a literature review: Editorial. Association of Operating Room Nurses. AORN Journal, 103(3), 265-269. doi:10.1016/j.aorn.2016.01.016
Onwuegbuzie, A. J. & Frels, R. (2016) 7 steps to a comprehensive literature review: A multimodal & cultural approach. London, UK: Sage Publications