Although systematic reviews are one of the most well-known review types, there are a variety of different types of reviews that vary in terms of scope, comprehensiveness, time constraints, and types of studies included.
The best review for your project depends on the intersection of:
Several tools are provided below to help you identify which type of review is best suited for your research.
|Type of Review||Description||Time to Complete||Search Strategy||Other Information|
(standalone lit review articles, not lit review sections of a larger research article)
Collates relevant studies and draws conclusions from them.
Search strategy not typically reported. Not comprehensive, which could introduce bias.
|Collins JA, Fauser BC. Balancing the strengths of systematic and narrative reviews. Hum Reprod Update. 2005;11(2):103-104. doi:10.1093/humupd/dmh058|
|Rapid Review||Assesses what is already known about a policy or practice issue by using systematic review methods to search and critically appraise existing research.||2-6+ months||Completeness of searching determined by time constraints. Librarian collaboration recommended.||
Khangura S, Konnyu K, Cushman R, Grimshaw J, Moher D. Evidence summaries: the evolution of a rapid review approach. Syst Rev. 2012;1:10. Published 2012 Feb 10. doi:10.1186/2046-4053-1-10
Tricco AC, Langlois EV, Straus SE. Rapid reviews to strengthen health policy and systems: a practical guide. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2017.
Rapid reviews from the ground up video series from Cochrane Training, 2017
|Integrative Review||Reviews, critiques, and synthesizes representative literature on a topic in an integrated way such that new frameworks and perspectives on the topic are generated.||2-10+ months||Aims for exhaustive, comprehensive search. Librarian collaboration recommended.||Whittemore R, Knafl K. The integrative review: updated methodology. J Adv Nurs. 2005;52(5):546-553. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2648.2005.03621.x|
|Umbrella Review||Reviews other systematic reviews and meta-analyses on a topic.
Focuses on a broad condition or problem for which there are competing interventions and highlights reviews that address these interventions and their results.
|2+ months||Identification of component reviews but no search for primary studies. Librarian collaboration recommended.||
Aromataris E, Fernandez R, Godfrey C, Holly C, Khalil H, Tungpunkom P. Chapter 10: Umbrella Reviews. In: Aromataris E, Munn Z (Editors). JBI Manual for Evidence Synthesis. JBI, 2020. Available from https://synthesismanual.jbi.global. doi:10.46658/JBIMES-20-11
Smith V, Devane D, Begley CM, Clarke M. Methodology in conducting a systematic review of systematic reviews of healthcare interventions. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2011;11(1):15. Published 2011 Feb 3. doi:10.1186/1471-2288-11-15
|Scoping Review||Presents a preliminary assessment of the potential size and scope of available research literature.
Aims to identify nature and extent of research evidence (usually including ongoing research).
|10-12+ months||Completeness of searching determined by time/scope constraints. Librarian collaboration recommended.||
Arskey H, O'Malley L. Scoping studies: towards a methodological framework. Int J of Soc Research Meth: Theory and Prac. 2005; 8:1.
Peters MDJ, Godfrey C, McInerney P, Munn Z, Tricco AC, Khalil, H. Chapter 11: Scoping Reviews (2020 version). In: Aromataris E, Munn Z (Editors). JBI Manual for Evidence Synthesis, JBI, 2020. Available from https://synthesismanual.jbi.global. doi:10.46658/JBIMES-20-12
Daudt HM, van Mossel C, Scott SJ. Enhancing the scoping study methodology: a large, inter-professional team's experience with Arksey and O'Malley's framework. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2013;13:48. Published 2013 Mar 23. doi:10.1186/1471-2288-13-48
Attempts to identify, appraise, and synthesize all the empirical evidence that meets pre-specified eligibility criteria to answer a given research question.
|10-12+ months||Aims for exhaustive, comprehensive search. Librarian collaboration recommended.||
Lodge M. Conducting a systematic review: finding the evidence. J Evid Based Med. 2011;4(2):135-139. doi:10.1111/j.1756-5391.2011.01130.x
Munn Z, et al. Systematic review or scoping review? Guidance for authors when choosing between a systematic or scoping review approach. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2018;18(1):143.
|Meta-Analysis||A statistical test that combines the results from multiple studies to answer one or more research questions||10-12+ months||Aims for exhaustive, comprehensive search. Statistician collaboration recommended. Librarian collaboration recommended.||Møller AM, Myles PS. What makes a good systematic review and meta-analysis?. Br J Anaesth. 2016;117(4):428-430. doi:10.1093/bja/aew264|
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Health Sciences Library. Types of Reviews. Systematic Reviews website. Updated January 29, 2021. Accessed September 21, 2021. https://guides.lib.unc.edu/systematic-reviews
Further reading on review types: