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A literature review describes what related research has already been conducted, how it informs the thesis, and how the thesis fits into the research in the field. It can cover a wide range of subjects at various levels of completeness and comprehensiveness.
"A scoping review or scoping study is a form of knowledge synthesis that addresses an exploratory research question aimed at mapping key concepts, types of evidence, and gaps in research related to a defined area or field by systematically searching, selecting, and synthesizing existing knowledge." (Colquhoun, et al., 2014)
Scoping Reviews are a preliminary assessment of the potential size and scope of available research literature. They can be used to make the case for a certain type of research or as a precursor to a Systematic Review.
According to the Cochrane Collaboration: A systematic review attempts to identify, appraise and synthesize all the empirical evidence that meets pre-specified eligibility criteria to answer a specific research question. And uses explicit, systematic methods that are selected with a view aimed at minimizing bias, to produce more reliable findings to inform decision making.
Useful for pooling data from eligible RCTs and can be used to make clinical decisions; can be mixed methods (qualitative AND quantitative).
A statistical technique that combines the results of quantitative studies to provide a more precise effect of the results. Aims for exhaustive searching. When conducting a systematic review, a meta-analysis is often included for quantitative reviews.