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The Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions is the official guide that describes in detail the process of preparing and maintaining Cochrane systematic reviews on the effects of healthcare interventions.
Remember that just having read a dissertation or conference paper doesn’t count – you must critique it – what worked, what didn’t, what would you do differently?
Your reader should reach the end of your literature review with a sense of full comprehension as to how your proposed study fits together with the current body of published work: If your reader can’t figure out what you’re doing in relation to what has come before you, your literature review has failed both as a stand-alone piece of academic work and as a building block for your overall study.
The printed copy and publicly accessible web version will be available in October 2019.
The most up-to-date version of the Handbook that is publicly available will continue to be Version 5.1 (updated March 2011) until October 2019.
Develop relationships that make sense within that framework and organize your review around ideas not tenuous links by researcher or subject or chronology.
Only include the material that you actually read – cutting and pasting someone else’s bibliography will come back to bite you later – especially if you have to do an oral defense and someone asks for your thoughts on a specific article or study.
The purpose of writing a literature review is to establish your authority in your research.
Without that established credibility, your research findings are dismissed as nothing but your opinions founded on some basic methodologies.
The following collection of annotated sample literature reviews written and co-written by colleagues associated with UW-Madison showcases how these reviews can do different kind of work for different purposes.
Use these successful examples as a starting point for understanding how other writers have approached the challenging and important task of situating their idea in the context of established research.