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A literature review is an objective critical summary evaluation and clarification: Research Skills in Nursing Practice, UU, Ireland

University Ulster University (UU)
Subject Research Skills in Nursing Practice

Purpose of a literature review

 A literature review is an objective, critical summary, evaluation, and clarification of published literature presented by other authors to provide the reader with a sound and reasoned argument outlining the current state of knowledge pertaining to the subject area. Its purpose is to create familiarity with current thinking, discourse, and research on a particular research topic.

The literature review should reflect up-to date knowledge in published material on your chosen topic. It is recommended that primary sources (preferably within the last five years) and seminal material are included.

When writing the review, it is important to organise the material in a structured way using the headings identified in the guidelines.

Undertaking a literature review involves a search and retrieval exercise using a systematic process of:

  • Developing a clear research question
  • Searching electronic databases using a systematic approach and appropriate key words
  • Specifying both inclusion and exclusion criteria for including studies in your review
  • Using critical appraisal to examine the research articles’ strengths and weaknesses.
  • Synthesis of the research to uncover key themes and insights

Sources of literature

The following list includes literature you can include in your review:

  • Peer-reviewed journal articles reporting on primary research studies
  • Peer-reviewed journal articles reporting on secondary analysis (e.g., Systematic reviews and Qualitative evidence syntheses (QES)

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