The key difference between literature review and systematic review is that literature review is an overview of current knowledge and theories of a specific topic, whereas systematic review is a type of review that uses analytical methods to collect and analyze secondary data.
Both literature reviews and systematic reviews are used to provide summaries of available literature or research on a given topic. However, there is a distinct difference between the two.
What is Literature Review?
Literature review refers to a search on available literature on a given topic. Literature reviews are designed to provide an overview of the topics that are explored and draw the relationships to the current topic. A literature review gives a summary of the key points of the available literature on the given topic. Through a literature review, it is easy to understand the research problem of the current study.
A literature review reveals the gaps of the previous research studies, comparing different previous research studies on the topic. There are different types of literature reviews in the domain of research methodologies. These types vary according to different fields. There is a specific structure to be followed when writing literature reviews. Moreover, a literature review provides an accessible guide to the particular topic which someone is researching on that topic. Literature reviews can be mostly seen in social sciences, experiments, and lab reports.
What is Systematic Review?
Systematic reviews are reviews used to collect and analyze secondary data. Basically, a systematic review answers the focused research question. Simultaneously, a systematic review is able to combine all the studies that are relevant to the given topic. Furthermore, systematic reviews provide an unbiased and balanced summary of findings, and these reviews are designed to provide a summary of current evidence related to a research question.
In most cases, systematic reviews are used in the biomedical and healthcare sectors. Fundamentally, systematic reviews examine clinical tests, public health interventions, environmental interventions, social interventions, adverse effects, and qualitative evidence. Systematic reviews can be used to advocate decision-making in many distinctive disciplines.
What is the Difference Between Literature Review and Systematic Review?
The key difference between literature review and systematic review is that literature review provides a summary or an overview of a topic, whereas systematic review answers a focused question in the healthcare sector. The other main difference between literature review and systematic review is that literature review provides a summary of the literature on the topic, whereas systematic review provides high-quality evidence while supporting evidence-based practice. Simultaneously, a literature review provides a question with a general topic or a specific question, whereas a systematic review provides a clearly defined question.
Moreover, although literature reviews are used in social sciences disciplines, systematic reviews are used in the biomedical and healthcare sectors. In addition, a literature review helps to identify the gaps between the current study with previous studies, but a systematic review does not provide help to identify the gaps between current research and the previous research studies.
Below is a summary of the difference between literature review and systematic review in tabular form for side by side comparison.
Summary – Literature Review vs Systematic Review
The key difference between literature review and systematic review is that a literature review is an overview of current knowledge and theories of a specific topic of research, whereas a systematic review is a type of review that uses analytical methods to collect and analyze secondary data especially in healthcare sectors.
1. “Literature Reviews.” The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 21 Sept. 2021.
2. “What Is a Literature Review?” The Royal Literary Fund.
3. Gopalakrishnan, S, and P Ganeshkumar. “Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis: Understanding the Best Evidence in Primary Healthcare.” Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, Jan. 2013.
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