Literature reviews: Who is the audience?
© 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. All rights reserved. This chapter explores the range of review approaches and provides guidance on how to decide which one is best for your purpose. Literature reviews are undertaken for a range of different purposes. Examples of commonly used review approaches are used here to illustrate this variation. Furthermore, the type of documents that may be legitimately included in a literature review varies. Some will only include studies of a particular type, others published and unpublished documents. The chapter explains the importance of the audience's perspective in literature reviews. There are many different 'brands' or approaches to literature reviews, some of the more mainstream approaches are covered here. Cochrane reviews are probably one of the most widely recognised literature review approaches. Realist synthesis and meta-narrative reviews are two relatively newer literature review approaches compared to Cochrane and other related literature review approaches. Taking the perspective of who the audience(s) might be for a review is one way to address the issue of when to use a particular review approach. This perspective can also help researchers to decide how a review should be undertaken. Where consensus is high on the appropriate use of and processes within a review, working out what an audience expects is easier. Where there is less agreement, more time and effort will be needed to justify the choice of a particular review approach and how it will be carried out.