Writing better narrative reviews

Was alerted to a useful paper on how to peer-review a literature review, specifically the “traditional” or narrative type (as opposed to systematic reviews and meta-analyses).

In summary,

  1. Even a literature review should have a clearly defined objective and scope. The scope should not overlap substantially with that of an earlier review if that review is relatively recent and well done.
  2. Even a narrative literature review should have an approach that is somewhat replicable, e.g., search terms, databases, and criteria for inclusion should be clearly stated.
  3. The litmus test is whether it is a useful summary for someone looking to enter the field. As a result, some synthetic effort, critical evaluation, and tables/figures would be useful.

Although written as advice to peer-reviewers, it can just as easily be advice on how to write better literature reviews. Especially useful for postgraduates, since usually one chapter in the thesis would be a literature review of some sort.

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