Research Writing

Difference between literature review and systematic review

Literature review and systematic review are two scientific texts that help introduce new knowledge in different fields. A literature review, which reviews existing research and information on a selected field of study, is an essential element of exploratory research. A systematic review is also a type of literature review. The main difference between a literature review and a systematic review is their focus on the research question; a systematic review focuses on a specific research question, but a literature review does not.

This article emphasizes

1. What is a literature review?
definition, features, characteristics

2. What is a systematic review?
definition, features, characteristics

3. What is the difference between a literature review and a systematic review?

What is a literature review

Literature review is an indispensable element of scientific research. It is here that the researcher shows his or her knowledge of the subject area on which he or she is working. A literature review is a discussion of pre-existing material in a subject area. Thus, this will require a collection of published (print or online) papers related to the chosen field of research. Simply put, literature is a survey of literature in a related subject area.

A good literature review is a critical discussion that reflects the author’s knowledge of relevant theories and approaches, as well as an understanding of conflicting arguments. The literature review should have the following features (Colley, 1992)

  • Compare and contrast the views of different researchers
  • Identify Areas Researchers Disagree
  • A group of researchers who have similar findings
  • Criticism of the methodology
  • Highlight exemplary teaching
  • Highlight research gaps
  • Indicate the relationship between your research and previous research
  • Indicate how your research will help the literature in general
  • Complete by summarizing what the literature indicates

The structure of a literature review is similar to that of an article or essay, as opposed to an annotated bibliography. The collected information is integrated into paragraphs depending on their relevance. Literature reviews help researchers assess the existing literature, identify a research gap, place their research into existing research, and identify future research.

What is a systematic review

A systematic review is a type of systematic review that focuses on a specific research question. The main purpose of this type of research is to identify, analyze and summarize the best available research on a specific research question. Systematic reviews are used mainly because reviewing existing research is often more convenient than conducting a new study. They are mainly used in the fields of health and medicine, but are not uncommon in areas such as social sciences and ecology. The following are the main steps for a systematic review:

  1. Determination of the research question and determination of the objective method.
  2. Search for relevant data that is obtained from existing research that meets certain criteria (research must be reliable and valid).
  3. Extracting data from selected studies (data such as participants, methods, results, etc.)
  4. Assessment of the quality of information
  5. Analyze and combine all data that will give an overall result.

Difference between literature review and systematic review


A literature review is a critical appraisal of existing published work in a chosen field of research.

A regular review is a type of literature review that focuses on a specific research question.


The literature review aims to review the existing literature, identify research gaps, compare studies with other studies, evaluate promising research methods, and suggest further research.

Regular Review The aim is to identify, review and summarize the best available research on a specific research question.

Investigate the question

In a Literature Review, a research question is formed after writing a review of the literature and identifying a research gap.

In a Regular Review, a research question is formed at the beginning of a systematic review.

Scientific research

Literature review is an important component of scientific research and is done at the beginning of the research.

The regular review is not accompanied by a separate study.

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