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Nutrition Senior Project

Understanding Literature Reviews

What are Literature Reviews?
In Literature Review and Research Design : A Guide to Effective Research Practice, author David Harris identifies three basic types of literature review that appear in scholarly writing (p. 139):
  • Summary Overview: "surveys different ideas found in some body of literature on a given subject. Reviews and summarizes what has been published by others on a subject without aspiring to provide any novel analytical insight."
    • Example: Textbooks, traditional review articles
  • Research Background: “provides background for a specific study by discussing the ideas that helped define the research questions. Its purpose is to explain the intellectual sources that inform a specific research project”. 
    • Examples: Dissertations, theses and empirical studies (i.e. most research articles). 
  • Research Study:  “formal and methodical analysis of a body of literature that is an empirical research study in its own right."
    • Examples: Systematic reviews and meta-analyses

Adapted from Harris, David J. Literature Review and Research Design : A Guide to Effective Research Practice . 1st edition, Routledge, 2019