Skip to main content

Health, Leisure, and Exercise Science

A guide to research in health and exercise

What are the types of reviews?

Literature Review Example

Remember, a literature review provides an overview of a topic. There may or may not be a method for how studies are collected or interpreted. Lit reviews aren't always obviously labeled "literature review"; they may be embedded within sections such as the introduction or background. You can figure this out by reading the article. 

Systematic Review Examples

Systematic reviews address a clinical question.  Reviews are gathered using a specific, defined set of criteria.


  • Selection criteria is defined
  • The words "Systematic Review" may appear int he title or abstract
  • Use Cochrane Library to search for reviews
    • BTW -> Cochrane Reviews aka Systematic Reviews

Meta-Analysis Examples

Meta-analysis is a study that combines data from OTHER studies. All the studies are combined to argue whether a clinical intervention is statistically significant by combining the results from the other studies.  For example, you want to examine a specific headache intervention without running a clinical trial.  You can look at other articles that discuss your clinical intervention, combine all the participants from those articles, and run a statistical analysis to test if your results are significant. Guess what? There's a lot of math. 


  • Include the words "meta-analysis" or "meta analysis" in your keywords
  • Meta-analyses will always be accompanied by a systematic review, but a systematic review may not have a meta-analysis
  • See if the abstract or results section mention a meta-analysis
  • Use databases like Cochrane or PubMed