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Health Subject Guide — Welcome

Research Guide for Health, including Allied Health and Nursing

Welcome to the Health Subject Guide!

Learn how to find and evaluate articles for literature reviews, and quickly access other key types of medical information (e.g. statistics, grant notices, and the Bates Visual Guide to Physical Examination).

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What are Literature Reviews?

Literature reviews, (aka narrative literature reviews) summarize previously published information on a topic. A well-written review clearly states the topic of the review and provides an unbiased synopsis/synthesis of information on that subject.


To write a literature review:

  • Locate important studies on your topic.
  • Choose key characteristics of each study to share.
  • Decide how to arrange information in the review (e.g. topically, chronologically).
  • Highlight trends in the studies (e.g. Did several studies have similar findings? Conflicting findings?)
  • Highlight trends in the research (e.g. Did earlier studies differ in some way from recent studies?  Was there a progression of findings; did later studies build off earlier findings?)
  • Choose language that pieces the studies together in a cohesiveness and readable manner.
  • Write the introduction and conclusion for the review.

Pearls of Wisdom


  • No two research articles are the same. Many beginners expect to find several articles on the same exact subject; however, it is important to remember that each research study will examine a topic in a unique way. When searching for articles, look for studies that address your basic topic in a variety of ways.
  • If the literature review is intended to accompany an actual research proposal, it is a problem if a study has already been conducted on the proposed research. The purpose of research is to extend what is already known about a topic.  Repeat studies that use identical methods and participants are rare, if not non-existent.
  • It is okay to include an article/study in a review if it covers the topic of interest, even if extraneous information is also present. For example, if a reviewer is searching for studies about using yoga in autistic children, it would be okay to include a study that compares the use of yoga versus pilates in children with autistm. 
  • Limiting by date is not always the right thing to do. Sometimes the best articles on a topic are old, particularly if you are looking for foundational, seminal, or well established knowledge. For example, some of the very best articles about the biomechanics of the shoulder are decades old. Cutting out articles based on publication date can eliminate top research. On the other hand, if you are looking for the best surgical technique or drug treatment, only the newest articles will do! Be logical when limiting by date.


  • Literature reviews must remain neutral. They are not persuasive essays. All relevant articles/studies on a topic must be included in reviews, whether or not they support the author's hypothesis.
  • Paraphrasing must be done with care to accurately portray facts without any distortion. 
  • Cite, cite, cite. You cannot cite too much. Every time information is taken from a research paper, it must be cited--whether or not the original language was used.

Want to Learn More about Literature Reviews?

These guides are in order from simple to in-depth, and will help you master the process of writing a literature review for class or publication. 

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