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Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Guide

Lit Review Purposes

Purposes for Literature Reviews Generally

  • to provide an opportunity to EVALUATE CRITICALLY what has been published on a topic 
  • to identify MAJOR IDEAS and THEMES arising from what is known about a topic 
  • to uncover INCONSISTENCIES, conflicts, or disagreements in what is known about a topic 
  • to identify STRENGTHS or WEAKNESSES in existing research 
  • to identify areas of research that are thoroughly researched (the science is settled) 
  • to identify GAPS in knowledge about a topic (areas that need further research) 
  • to identify WHO initiated discussion of the topic and why 
  • to identify EXPERTS or competing theorists in a topic field 
  • to identify SEMINAL works and landmark studies 
  • to place the topic in an HISTORICAL framework or context 
  • to help provide a BIG picture overview of what has been discovered about a topic
  • to trace the EVOLUTION of thought on a topic 
  • to build a CONCEPTUAL MODEL underlying current thought 
  • to identify HYPOTHESES concerning a topic for purposes of testing 
  • to serve as a LAUNCHING PAD... for the next discussion, the next research project, the next idea, the next theory, the next concept. 

Additional Purposes for HEALTH SCIENCES Literature Reviews:

  • to confirm that the research question has not already been answered adequately by existing research (prevents duplicate research)
  • to assure researchers that their idea has not been tested and found harmful or deadly 
  • to confirm that professional decision-making is up-to-date with current knowledge and practice