Major Differences Between Basic, and Systematic Literature Review

There are five to six chapters in a dissertation or research work. It will include an introduction, literature review, and methodology. It will also consist of research findings, interpretation of results, and the conclusion. There is a set rule for each of the chapters. The second chapter of dissertation work is a literature review. The prime focus of this chapter is to explain the existing literature. A writer can consider the systematic review aspect for presenting findings in this context. People get confused between basic, and systematic literature review. They think that these are the different names with same meanings. There may be a commonality between these two terms. But these two types of review vary significantly as well.

This article by a PhD dissertation help firm aims to discuss some of the major differences between the two reviews. These differences will help you in understanding these two reviews through a broader sense. Before going into details, we should first highlight each of these terms. Later on, we will discuss the major differences. Let’s discuss them in detail;

Literature Review

In the undergraduate dissertation work, you have to write a section of a literature review. It is based on available literature about that topic. There are four major objectives of the literature review. These are given as follows;

  • You can consider using surveys for your research topic.
  • It will synthesise existing literature in the form of a summary.
  • It will critically analyse the available information. Further, it will also help you in identifying the research gaps. At the same time, you can discuss the research limitations. These limitations can exist because of theories, or viewpoints.
  • It will help you in presenting the existing literature through an organised manner.

This section of research work helps present your in-depth research skills. It will also help your reader in knowing that you have command on your topic. Apart from this, you will be able to minimise the research gaps. This concludes a short overview of the literature review aspect.

Systematic Literature Review

A systematic literature review (SLR) helps a researcher in selecting the research. It will allow him to identify, and critically analyse the research. And this whole process will lead him towards answering a formulated question. It is important for a researcher to follow set rules for presentation of the literature. It will also help him state the review criteria even before conducting the review. To answer the formulated question, it will use systematic, and reproducible procedures. These procedures will help the researcher in selecting and appraising all relevant studies. From these researches, he will collect the data. And later on, he will present it in the form of a systematic literature review. The prime purpose of SLR is to analyse the available information. SLR also makes the information more accessible. It will later help in the decision-making process. This concludes a short overview of the systematic literature review.

Major Differences between These Two Terms

There are some major differences between these two terms. These differences vary in nature. Let’s discuss those differences so that you can understand them better;


One of the major differences between these two terms is that of definition. The definitions of these two terms are different from each other. The literature review will introduce the context, and current thinking of the topic. It will present an introduction without specific questions. Apart from this, its definition is generic in nature. It will also present several aspects of the same topic.

Systematic literature introduces the topic with a precise question. This question will help the researcher in producing evidence to support the arguments. SLR will consider a high level of primary research. The prime focus of this primary research is to answer the formulated question.


A basic requirement of the literature review is that it should be specific. It should cover current, and historic interest of the research topic. There must be coherence and organisation of the content. As a researcher, you must ensure that it is interesting for the reader. This is because it will help you in grabbing that reader’s attention effectively.

A systematic literature review will always focus on meta-analysis. As a researcher, you should have complete knowledge of the topic. Apart from this, you should perform your research with the help of a relevant database. You can consider statistical data sources for your meta-analysis as well.

Methods of Data Collection:

Another major difference between these terms is that of methods for data collection. A literature review will include any type of information source. The researcher can find existing research literature through a random process. He can consider any source that will help him in supporting his arguments. But he can consider a few databases for data collection as well.

A systematic literature review will only include limited, and specified databases. A researcher can find the relevant information after using specified keywords. A systematic literature review will only consider information having relevance. This is with context to the research question.

Number of Papers:

A literature review discusses many aspects of a research topic. It can consider up to 150 sources for data collection. A researcher can consider any information from these papers for literature review. It will help the researcher in making his literature review interesting.

A systematic literature review always focuses on the formulated research question in thesis writing process. Therefore, it will only consider specific information. A researcher can consider less than 50 sources for data collection only. Most of the time, fewer than ten sources are allowed for use. These sources will help the researcher in being concise. Apart from this, it will allow him in staying close to the research question.


Most of the time, researchers get confused between these two terms of reviews. The prime focus of both views is to present existing literature. But these two terms are different from each other as well. The basic literature review will consider any information that can help in supporting the arguments. Whereas a systematic literature review will only consider specific information. This article presented some of the major differences between these two reviews. There is a difference in definition. Apart from this, there is a difference between data collection methods for both as well. Moreover, the number of papers for data collection also vary in the case of both review types.