A literature review can be categorized in different types, each depending on its own approach, purpose, and analysis. When composing a literature review, it is important to note that while the relationship between primary and secondary literature is generally vague, it is often referred to as “real” by third-level knowledge. For this reason, while the purpose of the literature review is to provide an overview and synthesis of the resources you are exploring, you can do so in many ways, depending on the type of analysis that underlies your research.

Literary reviews exist in different types of academic works with different priorities. The aim of a literature review in scientific papers is to identify gaps and promote the need for additional research. Depending on the purpose of the author and the context in which the literature is presented, an alternative or holistic approach may be used. We can conceptualize types of literature review as being the list of possible forms of dissertation writing and research work. So, you have to assume for each type of review, we should take a different approach when writing.  It is interesting to understand the different types of literature reviews before you begin; these four are the most relevant.

Different Types of Literature Review

Theoretical Literature Review

The purpose of this form of review is to study the theoretical accumulation of the problems, theories, concepts, and phenomena. An overview of the theoretical literature review can help to determine what theories already exist, what relationships exist between them, how much research is currently being conducted on existing theories and the development of new hypotheses for testing them. This form is often used to help determine the absence of relevant theories or to show that existing theories do not explain new or emerging research questions. The unit of analysis can focus on the theoretical concept or on the whole of the framework or theory.

Historical Literature Review

Few things are excluded from historical precedents. The historical literature review focuses on research over time, usually beginning with the moment when problems, theories, concepts, and phenomena first appear in the literature and then follow their evolution in academic disciplines. The aim is to place the research in a historical context in order to show its knowledge of modern development and to determine possible directions for future research purpose.

Systematic Literature Review

This form of the review contains an assessment of existing evidence on well-defined research questions using predefined and standardized methods to identify and critically evaluate relevant research and to collect, present and analyse the research data of the evaluation. The goal is to consciously record all research on well-defined research questions, evaluate them critically and summarize them in a scientific way. It usually focuses on a very specific empirical problem, usually presented in a causal context, such as “To what extent does A contribute to B?” This kind of literature review is primarily used to study previous researches in clinical medicine and related health but is increasingly used in the social sciences.

Empirical Literature Review

It is one of the most used types of literature review that deals with original research such as scientific research studies, experiments, and surveys. The research is done based on actual experiences and observations rather than from any belief or theory. The empirical literature review can answer many of these social work questions. In addition, resources containing data on social indicators may be used. Social indicators are “facts and figures” describing the social, economic and psychological factors that affect the well-being of communities or other population groups. There are three characteristics in the empirical literature that should always be kept in mind compared to other types of information available on topics of interest:

  • Systematic observation and methodology,
  • Objectivity, and
  • Transparency/reproducibility

In the previous sections of the literature review, you must indicate the type of literature review and explain the reasons for the selection. The type of literature study you choose should be based on your area of research, research questions, and research methods.

Here we end our guide on types of literature review that you can use for dissertation and research work. If you are struggling to write a dissertation, here is how can you write a perfect dissertation easily on your own. Looking for writing tips, write to us or comment so our experts can get in touch with you.