If you believe everything you read, better not read. (Japanese Proverb)
What is a literature review?
A literature review is an account of what has been published on a topic in the past. Its purpose is to inform the reader what has been established about a topic and what the strengths and weaknesses are. A literature review must be defined by a guiding concept and should not be a list of all the material that you can find (Porter, S. 2008, p.49).
What is the difference between a literature review, a systematic review and a meta-analysis?
Traditional literature reviews attempts to summarize results of a different number of studies; systematic reviews use explicit and rigorous criteria to identity, critically evaluate and synthesize all the literature on a topic. A meta-analysis is a non-statistical way used to evaluate the findings of qualitative research studies.
How do you decide that a topic is right for a review rather than a primary research study?
The answer to deciding if a topic is right for a literature review or research study lies with your chosen topic question.
For example, if your question asks, what are the long term problems with childhood constipation? Then you would complete a literature review in order to bring you up to date with current information based on that topic.
How ever if your topic question was, what is the best medication to use in childhood constipation? Then you would conduct a research study to find out the best treatment to use.
Dr Smith has no interest in your current disease and research, he does what he always does and gives you a sick note & tablets.
How ever Dr Jones has an interest in research methods and has performed a study on treatments for your disease and has found out that tablets make you feel worse and suggests taking a liquid.
Which one of the two doctors would you want to see?