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Type of Reviews

There are many different types of literature reviews. The following list offers a description and examples of a few selected ones. There could be different opinions on distinguishing features regarding review types among scholars. The description presented here intended to clarify rather than define. The content of the list is based on an article by Maria J. Grant & Andrew Booth (2009), A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies, and the book by Mark Petticrew & Helen Roberts (2006) Systematic Reviews in the Social Sciences:

Literature review/ Traditional Narrative Review: At the beginning of most research articles usually contain a literature review. These are traditional narrative reviews. This type of review aims to provide an overview of studies done in a field and establish the context and reasoning of a study. But occasionally, some scholars use the term 'narrative review' for systematic reviews that synthesize articles narratively without a meta-analysis. 

Scoping Review: A preliminary assessment of the scope of available research on a topic. This method would help refine a research question for a full review and inform researchers of the resources that would be needed for a full systematic review.


Lamanna M, Klinger CA, Liu A, Mirza RM. The association between public transportation and social isolation in older adults: A scoping review of the literature. Canadian Journal on Aging. 2020;39(3):393-405. doi:10.1017/S0714980819000345

Mapping Review: To map out and categorize existing literature on a topic. It identifies gaps in the research literature to suggest further reviews or primary research.


Stevely, A. K., Holmes, J., & Meier, P. S. (2020). Contextual characteristics of adults’ drinking occasions and their association with levels of alcohol consumption and acute alcohol‐related harm: A mapping reviewAddiction115(2), 218–229.

Rapid Review:  Rapid review is often used to gather evidence for policymakers, and in many cases, the research has to be completed within a short time, often less than 5 weeks. It synthesizes existing evidence similar to a systematic review but is conducted in a much shorter time period comparing with a standard systematic review. 


Marshall, C., Piat, M., & Perreault, M. (2018). Exploring the psychological benefits and challenges experienced by peer-helpers participating in take-home naloxone programmes: A rapid review. Drugs: Education, Prevention & Policy, 25(3), 280–291.

Conceptual review: Conceptual review is also called conceptual synthesis.  This type of review aims at gaining a deeper understanding of issues by synthesizing conceptual knowledge, such as principle ideas, existing models, primary debates. 


Miller, A. L., Lo, S. L., Bauer, K. W., & Fredericks, E. M. (2020). Developmentally informed behaviour change techniques to enhance self-regulation in a health promotion context: A conceptual review. Health Psychology Review14(1), 116–131.

Meta-Analysis A quantitative method that combines the results of independent original studies and synthesizes, summaries, then makes conclusions to answer a defined research question.


Aldao, A., Nolen-Hoeksema, S., & Schweizer, S. (2010). Emotion-regulation strategies across psychopathology: A meta-analytic review. Clinical Psychology Review30(2), 217–237.