Lesson 3: Reviews

Reviews are sometimes called secondary research as they involves the summary, collation and/or synthesis of existing research rather than primary research, where data is collected from, for example, research subjects or experiments. Reviews involve the retrieval and analysis of existing secondary data. There are two types of desk reviews:

1. Narrative reviews

  • Used for hypothesis development/evaluation
  • Employed to conduct a survey of what is already known about a research topic
  • Can be used to help with problem identification
  • Helps to provide an historical account of a research issue

It is important to note that all research begins with a narrative review of the existing literature. Your thesis should include a short, precise narrative review of relevant secondary data. However, one can do an expanded narrative review to form an entire thesis without collecting primary data.

2. Systematic reviews (and meta-analyses)

  • Employed to test a hypothesis
  • Used as a tool to assess intervention effectiveness across studies or datasets

Systematic reviews will be dealt with later, but let us first look at the nature of secondary data.


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