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Pharmacy: Barry and Judy Silverman College of Pharmacy guide

Library/information resources for Barry and Judy Silverman College of Pharmacy students, faculty, staff, and preceptors.

Types of Reviews

Decision Tree

Different Types of Reviews

Not every review is a systematic review. The review type will depend on the purpose and scope of your project, as well as the resources and time you have available.

Any of the reviews listed below can be enhanced with the assistance of a librarian. 


Literature (Narrative) Review

A broad term referring to reviews with a wide scope and non-standardized methodology.

  • Search strategies, comprehensiveness, and time range covered vary and do not follow an established protocol.


Scoping Review or Evidence Map

Systematically and transparently collect and categorize existing evidence on a broad question of policy or management importance.

  • Seeks to identify research gaps and opportunities for evidence synthesis rather than searching for the effect of an intervention.
  • May critically evaluate existing evidence but does not attempt to synthesize the results in the way a systematic review would. See: EE Journal or CIFOR
  • May take longer than a systematic review.
  • See: Arksey and O'Malley (2005) for methodological guidance


Rapid Review

Applies systematic review methodology within a time-constrained setting.


Umbrella Review

Reviews other systematic reviews on a topic.

  • Often defines a broader question that is typical of a traditional systematic review.
  • Most useful when there are competing interventions to consider.



A statistical technique for combining the findings from a disparate quantitative studies.

  • Uses statistical methods to objectively evaluate, synthesize, and summarize results.
  • May be conducted independently or as part of a systematic review.

Systematic Review

A systematic review attempts to collate all empirical evidence that fits pre-specified eligibility criteria in order to answer a specific research question.  It  uses explicit, systematic methods that are selected with a view to minimizing bias, thus providing more reliable findings from which conclusions can be drawn and decisions made.

The key characteristics of a systematic review are:

  • a clearly stated set of objectives with pre-defined eligibility criteria for studies;
  • an explicit, reproducible methodology;
  • a systematic search that attempts to identify all studies that would meet the eligibility criteria;
  • an assessment of the validity of the findings of the included studies, for example through the assessment of risk of bias; and
  • a systematic presentation, and synthesis, of the characteristics and findings of the included studies.