That is: “what exactly is of interest and why” (Cronin, Ryan, & Coughlan, 2008, p. 38)
Keep in mind: Your research focus may evolve as you start looking for material.
Part of the review process is deciding what studies fit your criteria and what do not. This process is made easier by developing a detailed appraisal process.
In a presentation on scoping reviews, Heather Colquhoun (2016; see her article linked below) said this:
Consider very carefully decisions that reduce the scope (depth and breadth) of the review.
- Resources and time alone are not adequate to reduce scope
- Limits must be consistent with the question asked[.]
Cronin, P., Ryan, F., & Coughlan, M. (2008). Undertaking a literature review: A step-by-step approach. British Journal of Nursing, 17(1), 38-43. doi:10.12968/bjon.2008.17.1.28059
However, the method and scope of reviews can vary depending on the purpose of the review and the common practices in your field.
Here are the most common types of reviews you're likely to come across. There are many other types of reviews, from critical to umbrella; some reviews are more map than narrative but the approach you will use depends on your assignment and your discipline.
Check the articles and guides listed below for more on the types of review; in particular, Grant & Booth (2009) provides a long, thorough list of review types and methodologies.
Cronin, P., Ryan, F., & Coughlan, M. (2008). Undertaking a literature review: a step-by-step approach. British Journal of Nursing 17(1), 38-43.
Grant, M. J. and Booth, A. (2009). A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Health Information & Libraries Journal 26, 91-108. doi:10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00848.x
Further reading: Xiao, Y., & Watson, M. (2019). Guidance on conducting a systematic literature review. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 39(1), 93–112. doi:10.1177/0739456X1772397
Use the DOCTYPE(re) limiter:
Example: arthroscopy AND DOCTYPE(re)
The database below will give you immediate access to the recent work of Stevens students/alumni; if you'd ever like to read a thesis or dissertation that's only in print, email Ted Houghtaling for more help.