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Literature Review: Home

A Literature review is the way to look at the past: to assess the body of literature, to synthesize previous work, and to locate the gaps in order to prepare for the future in directing the research process and formulating additional questions.


As a health care profession, chiropractic uses scientific evidence for decision making. The quality and quantity of chiropractic research is increasing and is vitally important to all stakeholders including educators, practitioners, state and national organizations, and political/economic policymakers. Students, faculty, and field doctors rely on scholarly journals and recent studies to make decisions. A literature review aims to identify articles cogent to a specific topic of interest and "serves as the driving and jumping-off point for your own research." (Ridley, 2008)   

The purpose of this Research Guide is to provide information on how to conduct a literature review and where to locate additional resources to assist you. Remember that this guide is designed as a starting point and if you have any questions, please feel free to contact library staff for further assistance. 

What is a Literature Review?

A Literature Review:

is a systematic, explicit, comprehensive, and reproducible method for identifying, evaluating, and synthesizing the existing body of completed and recorded work (Fink, 2009)

is where you identify the theories and previous research that have influenced your choice of research topic and the methodology you are choosing to adopt. (Ridley, 2008)

What is a Literature Search?

A Literature Search:

is a systematic and thorough search of all types of published literature in order to identify as many items as possible that are relevant to a particular topic. (Gash, 2000) 

Guidelines on scientific writing - (Hopkins, 1999)

 1. Avoid technical terms. 

 2. Avoid abbreviations.

 3. Use simple sentences.

 4. Avoid common errors of punctuation and grammar.

 5. Use the first person (I, we) rather than the passive voice. 

 6. Link your ideas into a sensible sequence without repetitions or discontinuities. 

 7. Get feedback on your article from colleagues.

What to consider when conducting a literature review?

Consider the following: 7 tasks (Fink, 2005)

 1. Select your research question: a precise question that guides the review.

 2. Select your bibliography, article databases etc..

 3. Select and choose your search terms.

 4. Apply practical screening criteria.

 5. Apply methodological screening criteria.

 6. Do the review - abstracting data from articles.

 7. Synthesize the results.

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