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Basic Biomedical Sciences

Please visit the homepage for the University of South Dakota's Department of Basic Biomedical Sciences for more information.

A literature review is “a thematic synthesis of sources used to provide readers with an up-to-date summary of theoretical and empirical findings on a particular topic.”

Cisco, J. (2014). Teaching the Literature Review: A Practical Approach for College Instructors. Teaching and Learning Inquiry: The ISSOTL Journal, 2(2), 41-57.

Steps for writing a literature review:

  • Find & Evaluate

    • Perform a literature search - you librarian can help you with this.  Make sure you narrow your topic to make it easier to find a manageable number of sources and to get a good survey of the material.

    • Spend time reading and managing the information in the literature you found.

  • Summarize

    • Summarize the information you find in each of your sources. Look at each source: What are the findings, the methodology, theories, etc.? 

  • Synthesize

    • After reviewing your summaries, you will start to notice common themes or ideas within your resources.  Sometimes putting this information into a matrix can be helpful to organize your resources and group them by their themes; you can start weaving them together.

  • Write

    • Now you will take all of that information and integrate it.  Organize the literature.  Literature reviews are typically organized in one of the following ways:

      • Chronologically (show a progression of a particular methodology), or

      • Thematically - by idea/theme (progression of time may still be important in this organization as well).

**Please contact your librarian for assistance before and during your literature review process.

Additional Resources:

Grant, M. J., & Booth, A. (2009). A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Health Information & Libraries Journal, 26(2), 91-108. Retrieved from doi:10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00848.x


"An integrative review is a specific review method that summarizes past empirical or theoretical literature to provide a more comprehensive understanding of a particular phenomenon or healthcare problem (Broome 1993). Integrative reviews, thus, have the potential to build nursing science, informing research, practice, and policy initiatives. Well-done integrative reviews present the state of the science, contribute to theory development, and have direct applicability to practice and policy."

Whittemore, R., & Knafl, K. (2005). The integrative review: updated methodology. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 52(5), 546-553. Retrieved from doi:10.1111/j.1365-2648.2005.03621.x

Broome, M. E. (1993). Integrative Literature Reviews for the Development of Concepts (2nd ed.). Philadelphia, PA: W.B. Saunders Co.


Additional Resources:

Torraco, R. J. (2005). Writing Integrative Literature Reviews: Guidelines and Examples. Human Resource Development Review, 4(3), 356-367. Retrieved from doi:10.1177/1534484305278283


**Please contact your librarian for assistance before and during your review process.




"Rapid reviews are a form of evidence synthesis that may provide more timely information for decision making compared with standard systematic reviews."  [...] rapid reviews 'are literature reviews that use methods to accelerate or streamline traditional systematic review processes' in order to meet the needs and timelines of the end-users (e.g., 'government policymakers, health care institutions, health professionals, and patient associations')"(Lisa Hartling et al., 2016)(Ganann, Ciliska, & Thomas, 2010).

Hartling L, Guise JM, Hempel S, Featherstone R, Mitchell MD, Motu’apuaka ML, Robinson KA, Schoelles K, Totten A, Whitlock E, Wilt T, Anderson J, Berliner E, Gozu A, Kato E,Paynter R, Umscheid CA. EPC Methods: AHRQ End User Perspectives of Rapid Reviews. Research White Paper. (Prepared by the Scientific Resource Center under Contract No. 290-2012-00004-C.) AHRQ Publication No.16-EHC014-EF. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; April 2016.

Ganann, R., Ciliska, D., & Thomas, H. (2010). Expediting systematic reviews: methods and implications of rapid reviews. Implementation science : IS5, 56. doi:10.1186/1748-5908-5-56


Additional Resources:

Grant, M. J., & Booth, A. (2009). A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Health Info Libr J, 26(2), 91-108. doi:10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00848.x
Hartling, L., Guise, J. M., Kato, E., Anderson, J., Belinson, S., Berliner, E., . . . Whitlock, E. (2015). A taxonomy of rapid reviews links report types and methods to specific decision-making contexts. J Clin Epidemiol, 68(12), 1451-1462 e1453. Retrieved from doi:10.1016/j.jclinepi.2015.05.036
Khangura, S., Konnyu, K., Cushman, R., Grimshaw, J., & Moher, D. (2012). Evidence summaries: the evolution of a rapid review approach. Systematic Reviews, 1(1), 10. doi:10.1186/2046-4053-1-10
Tricco, A. C., Antony, J., Zarin, W., Strifler, L., Ghassemi, M., Ivory, J., . . . Straus, S. E. (2015). A scoping review of rapid review methods. BMC Med, 13, 224. doi:10.1186/s12916-015-0465-6
World Health Organization, A. f. H. P. a. S. R. (2017). Rapid reviews to strengthen health policy and systems: a practical guide (E. V. L. a. S. E. S. Andrea C. Tricco Ed.).


**Please contact your librarian for assistance before and during your review process. 

A scoping review:

  • "maps the body of literature on a topic area"
  • "include a large range of study designs and methodologies"
  • "provide a descriptive overview of the reviewed material without critcally appraising individual studies or synthesizing evidence from different studies."

Arksey, H., & O'Malley, L. (2005). Scoping Studies: Towards a Methodological Framework. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 8(1), 19-32. doi:10.1080/1364557032000119616
Pham, M. T., Rajic, A., Greig, J. D., Sargeant, J. M., Papadopoulos, A., & McEwen, S. A. (2014). A scoping review of scoping reviews: advancing the approach and enhancing the consistency. Res Synth Methods, 5(4), 371-385. doi:10.1002/jrsm.1123
Additional Resources:
Cacchione, P. Z. (2016). The Evolving Methodology of Scoping Reviews. Clinical Nursing Research, 25(2), 115-119. doi:10.1177/1054773816637493
Levac, D., Colquhoun, H., & O'Brien, K. K. (2010). Scoping studies: advancing the methodology. Implement Sci, 5, 69. doi:10.1186/1748-5908-5-69
Munn, Z., Peters, M. D. J., Stern, C., Tufanaru, C., McArthur, A., & Aromataris, E. (2018). Systematic review or scoping review? Guidance for authors when choosing between a systematic or scoping review approach. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 18(1), 143. doi:10.1186/s12874-018-0611-x
Peters, M. D., Godfrey, C. M., Khalil, H., McInerney, P., Parker, D., & Soares, C. B. (2015). Guidance for conducting systematic scoping reviews. Int J Evid Based Healthc, 13(3), 141-146. Retrieved from doi:10.1097/XEB.0000000000000050
Peters MDJ, Godfrey C, McInerney P, Baldini Soares C, Khalil H, Parker D. Chapter 11: Scoping Reviews. In: Aromataris E, Munn Z (Editors). Joanna Briggs Institute Reviewer's Manual. The Joanna Briggs Institute, 2017. Available from 
Tricco, A. C., Lillie, E., Zarin, W., O'Brien, K. K., Colquhoun, H., Levac, D., . . . Straus, S. E. (2018). PRISMA Extension for Scoping Reviews (PRISMA-ScR): Checklist and ExplanationThe PRISMA-ScR Statement. Annals of Internal Medicine, 169(7), 467-473. doi:10.7326/m18-0850


**Please contact your librarian for assistance before and during your review process. 

A systematic review attempts to collate all empirical evidence that fits pre-specified eligibility criteria in order to answer a specific research question.  It  uses explicit, systematic methods that are selected with a view to minimizing bias, thus providing more reliable findings from which conclusions can be drawn and decisions made (Antman 1992, Oxman 1993). The key characteristics of a systematic review are:

  • a clearly stated set of objectives with pre-defined eligibility criteria for studies;

  • an explicit, reproducible methodology;

  • a systematic search that attempts to identify all studies that would meet the eligibility criteria;

  • an assessment of the validity of the findings of the included studies, for example through the assessment of risk of bias; and

  • a systematic presentation, and synthesis, of the characteristics and findings of the included studies.

Higgins JPT, Green S (editors).  Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions Version 5.1.0 [updated March 2011]. The Cochrane Collaboration, 2011. Available from

**Please contact your librarian for assistance before and during your systematic review process.

Registries, Standards, and Resources:

"Umbrella reviews are conducted to provide an overall examination of the body of information that is available for a given topic, and to compare and contrast the results of published systematic reviews.2 The wide picture obtainable from the conduct of an umbrella review is ideal to highlight whether the evidence base around a topic is consistent or contradictory, and to explore the reasons for the findings."

Aromataris, E., Fernandez, R., Godfrey, C. M., Holly, C., Khalil, H., & Tungpunkom, P. (2015). Summarizing systematic reviews: methodological development, conduct and reporting of an umbrella review approach. Int J Evid Based Healthc, 13(3), 132-140. Retrieved from doi:10.1097/XEB.0000000000000055

Additional Resources:

Aromataris E, Fernandez R, Godfrey C, Holly C, Khalil H, Tungpunkom P. Chapter 10: Umbrella Reviews. In: Aromataris E, Munn Z (Editors). Joanna Briggs Institute Reviewer's Manual. The Joanna Briggs Institute, 2017. Available from  

Blackwood, D. (2016). Taking It To The Next Level...Reviews of Systematic Reviews. HLA News(Winter), 13-15. 

Smith, V., Devane, D., Begley, C. M., & Clarke, M. (2011). Methodology in conducting a systematic review of systematic reviews of healthcare interventions. BMC Med Res Methodol, 11(1), 15. doi:10.1186/1471-2288-11-15


**Please contact your librarian for assistance before and during your review process.


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