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Literature Review and Systematic Review: What’s the Difference?

Literature Review and Systematic Review
Susan Wray
July 08, 2022


When searching for an article on the topic, I’m sure you’ve seen both: a systematic review and a literature review. They do seem similar, but do they stand strong as the same? The short answer is no. But to conclude, we will walk through the history and intent while highlighting key factors that separate them. As this article is written within the context of higher education, it will refer specifically to literature and systematic reviews. However, these concepts are applicable outside of academia as well.

Literature review:

If you are writing a dissertation or research project, you might need to start by learning to write a literature review. However, a literature review in research is an evaluation and search of literature available in the research’s chosen topic or subject area. There are usually four main goals of writing a literature review.

  1. It explores the available literature on your chosen topic or study area.
  2. Literature Review summarizes all the information you have collected in your exploration
  3. It analyses the collected information critically by looking for gaps in the available literature to express the limitations of the theories, creating space for more research and checking controversial areas.
  4. Literature Review shows your literature in a structured and organized manner.

A good review shows that you properly grasp the related subject. It shows a good understanding related to your research topic. With the help of this, you can add more knowledge to the existing literature body. While writing a review, it is important to focus on four main things:

  • It shows a similarity of the literature with your knowledge and makes your work credible.
  • Expresses properly how your project is linked to the review.
  • Integrates your knowledge about the subject properly
  • Shows your learning from other research and demonstrates that this research will give new concepts.

Systematic review:

A systematic review is a review which contains clear evidence of a question. This review uses explicit and systematic methods to select, identify and analyze the related research work and collect data from other primary studies that can be used in your review. The methods you use in this must be transparent and reproducible. You can apply for systematic review in many health care or biomedical fields. It might be used to advance the information in a subject or a field.

This review can also be used to give a good overview of the related literature on a topic or study area. It uses a transparent and rigorous method to synthesize research and assess findings. Also, it can help reduce errors in research findings. Most of the time, systematic reviews use quantitative analysis of the data. However, it sometimes contains qualitative reviews and many other review methods that can help gather, analyze and report evidence on a particular research question.

Systematic reviews with mixed-method or qualitative analysis methods usually use meta-analysis approaches to compile the findings in an organized and eligible way. It also uses scoring levels to rate evidence quality by assessing the used methodology. There are many benefits of using a systematic review in research. It gives a comprehensive and clear overview of all the evidence available on a chosen topic. It also helps to identify all the current gaps in the research. This makes the available evidence more accessible to researchers and decision-makers.

Difference between systematic and literature review:

Literature review

Systematic review


Ø  It explains and analyses all the previous work on the chosen topic

Ø  A literature review does not explain particular methods used by the studies for identification, selection and evaluation.

Ø  It analyses the collected information critically by looking for gaps in the available literature, expressing limitations of the theories, creating space for more research and checking controversial areas.

Ø   It shows your understanding related to your research topic. With the help of this, you can add more knowledge to the existing literature body.

Ø  The scope of the systematic reviews is usually identified in advance. For instance, group analysis, sub-questions and review questions are identified in advance.

Ø  It is a detailed search of all the studies relevant to your topic.

Ø  To include or exclude some resources, you use explicit criteria.

Ø  You analyze the quality of studies by applying established standards.

Ø  It uses a straightforward approach to extract and synthesize the findings of a quantitative and qualitative study.

Ø  A systematic review might also include my analysis in the quantitative synthesis.


Ø  A literature review is used to see the gaps in the current knowledge, critiques of the previous studies, discussions and overviews.

Ø  It is usually use to explain a new study rationally.

Ø  To find the forms of interventions which are available for review.

Ø  Systematic reviews identify, appraise and synthesize all the information and studies relevant to your main research questions.

Ø  Gathering all the information to identify the basis of this information.

Ø  It gives a comprehensive report using straightforward approaches so that methods, assumptions and rationale are open to scrutiny.


Ø  In this, the assumptions and agendas of writers are usually unknown.

Ø  It has biases which happen while assessing and selecting the information.

Ø  It cannot be reproduce.

Ø  Systematic review with specific questions offers specific answers for the study.

Ø  Review questions without proper answers must be constructed again by the readers.



A literature review is a non-systematic collection of information that describes the research and establishes the context for the research question. On the other hand, a systematic review narrows in on a well-defined question, identifies all the relevant research sources to answer that question, and then appraises and synthesizes those studies. It relies on set upon criteria and explicit methods to minimize bias and incorporates quality assessments into its entire sequence.

It’s important to note that literature and systematic reviews are not simply variants of each other, each with its purpose. Rather, literature reviews and systematic reviews can be use to assess the validity of research and identify areas that need more research. The review types are distinct processes but are both valuable components in evaluating scientific research. However, still, if you are confused about literature review and systematic review, you can hire professional research paper help by clicking here.

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