A Systematic Approach to Literature Review

Literature Review can feel like a never ending, frustrating part of the research process. To add difficulty to this already difficult process, as a society we seem to be losing reading habits and diminishing our attention span, which creates a problem when dealing with an unidentified amount of papers that we don’t even know where to pick from. Luckily there are tools and strategies to help us navigate the ever growing amount of things written on, well, everything.

A systematic approach to Literature Review

Systematic Reviews of Literature (SRL) were first created to help the medical community realize exactly what the evidence pointed to in different areas. What are the actual best practices for dealing with depression? Heart attacks? How effective is a certain medicine?

These questions had (and have!) conflicting responses according to different sources and papers. It was imperative to know EVERY result in order for physicians to decide the best courses of action based on scientific evidence. How do you do that? It’s not possible to read EVERYTHING in a timely manner and reach a conclusion. Further, in a traditional way of looking at Lit Review there is a lot of subjectivity implied.

traditional Lit Review process

The SRL is a protocoled way of looking into the Literature in your field, that tries to create a more objective perspective on what the state of the art in a given field is.

PRISMA Protocol

However, conducting RSLs can be a very daunting task! (Often RSLs in Medicine are conducted by multiple researchers all over the world).

My proposition is an approach that bridges SRLs with Narrative (traditional) Lit Reviews.

Systematic Approaches to Literature

Examples of papers using VosViewer

If you’d like to know more about…

Systematic Reviews of Literature


Finding the right literature for your paper

Research paper search: tips you’ll wish you knew

The literature review | your definitive guide

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