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KIN 481: Analysis of Critical Issues in Kinesiology

What is a Literature Review and Why Is It Useful

Literature review articles (also known as "review articles") are a particularly useful type of scholarly, peer-reviewed article in many disciplines, including kinesiology (NOTE: mini literature reviews are included at the beginning of most empirical research articles to provide the context for the research results presented in the article). Literature reviews, at their core, provide a summary and critical analysis of existing literature related to the topic of interest. They may be written by one or multiple authors. Literature review/review articles will help you understand:

  • current research on a given topic
  • trends or current debates related to the topic
  • gaps in current research related to the topic
  • who the significant researchers are that are working on the topic
  • what direction future research might head

Literature reviews/review articles are an excellent way to begin exploring a topic in order to build your knowledge of the current "state" of research about the topic and the key individuals or research groups working on the topic.

Many journals publish literature reviews/review articles and most search tools offer some options for specifically finding these articles. See the modules below for finding literature reviews in several search tools useful for kinesiology topics.

Literature reviews/review articles come in different types including traditional or narrative reviews, systematic reviews, and systematic reviews that include meta-analysis of data. For the purposes of this course, we'll be focusing on the more narrative form of literature reviews. As you use the search tools and strategies below to look for your own literature reviews, remember to choose reviews that are more narrative in nature (e.g. use the literature review you used in class as your guide); do not choose systematic reviews or meta-analyses.

Locating Literature Reviews in SportDisucs

In the SportDiscus database, there is no specific tool to narrow a search to just literature reviews. But you can structure a search that will generate results that include literature reviews of different kinds. The image below shows a search to locate articles on "workplace exercise" (database will look in any searchable field of SportDisucs records) where the word "review" is located in the Abstract of the article. In this particular search, the results will include literature reviews (usually written in narrative style), systematic reviews, systematic reviews with meta-analysis, and some very general magazine review articles.

image of literature review search in SportDisucs

Locating Literature Reviews in MedLine

In the MedLine database there is a specific tool to narrow a search to just literature reviews. But even in this database, the search results will include various kinds of reviews including literature reviews (usually written in narrative style), systematic reviews, and systematic reviews with meta-analysis. The image below shows a search to locate articles on "workplace exercise" (database will look in any searchable field of MedLine records) but specifically narrowing to articles classified as Reviews in the Publication Type field.

 

Locating Literature Reviews in Web of Science

In the Web of Science database there is a specific tool to narrow a search to just literature reviews. But even in this database, the search results will include various kinds of reviews including literature reviews (usually written in narrative style), systematic reviews, and systematic reviews with meta-analysis. The image below shows a search to locate articles on "workplace exercise" (database will look in any searchable field of MedLine records) but specifically narrowing to articles classified as Reviews in the Document Type field. NOTE: You will need to add a second search box to the search screen to select the Document Type field and then narrow from the choices to Review.

Locating Literature Reviews in PsycInfo

In the PsycInfo database there is a specific tool to narrow a search to just literature reviews. But even in this database, the search results will include various kinds of reviews including literature reviews (usually written in narrative style), systematic reviews, and systematic reviews with meta-analysis. The first images below shows a search to locate articles on "workplace exercise" (database will look in any searchable field of PsycInfo records).

 

Once you have have a page of search results, then you will need to use the Methodology filter (left side of screen) to specifically select those articles classified as "Literature Reviews." If you see the Literature Reviews link, select it to narrow the results to those articles.