SoTL inquiries, like any scholarship, require substantive engagement with related theoretical and empirical literature. This literature plays an important role in shaping research questions and study design. Later, this literature can also be helpful for interpreting results.
SoTL literature reviews often draw from several bodies of knowledge, including those related to a) the project’s central issue or question, b) the academic discipline, and c) teaching and learning more generally. Because of this, SoTL inquiries often take scholars into unfamiliar territory. This page offers a general overview of literature reviews, while the Find Articles, Find Journals, and Find Books section of the research guide provide guidance for locating literature relevant to SoTL.
A systematic literature review (SLRs; also known as systematic review or as systematic overview, evidence summary, integrative review, or research synthesis) is a summary of the research literature that is focused on a single question.
The systematic review process has been developed to minimize bias and ensure transparency. Methods should be adequately documented so that they can be replicated.
Key components of a systematic review include:
With traditional literature reviews (also known as narrative reviews or critical reviews), the goal is to discover what's already known about a topic and perhaps to identify areas where gaps in the research exist, which can lead to new studies in order to further the state of knowledge on the topic.
Traditional literature reviews rarely contain a comprehensive list of documents on a topic. The findings of literature reviews may be biased due to incomplete literature searching and/or to selective inclusion of documents in order to support an author's opinion.
SLRs, however, are frequently conducted in order to create or revise policy or to make a decision, and therefore an attempt is made to identify and assess all relevant literature on a topic, so that any action(s) taken will be based on the best available evidence.
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