Apples vs oranges or two fruits? Level of detail in literature reviews
Conference proceedings article

Publication Details

Author list: Greifeneder E, Schlebbe K
Book title in source: iConference 2017 Proceedings
Publication year: 2017


Literature reviews are vital parts of research studies. They describe previous studies in their methods and designs, their samples and results, and link these to the authors' own new study. This preliminary study analyzes how much information researchers provide in their literature reviews about the parameters of other authors' study designs. A sample of 15 articles that are linked to each other by references is used as a case study. In a first step, we determine the differences and similarities between the studies in terms of method, sample size and various sample characteristics. In a second step, we analyze how these characteristics are reflected in the literature reviews. Our analysis shows that the level of detail in the literature reviews examined was rather low: if study parameters were mentioned at all, authors described at most one or two. In other cases information about the research design or sample characteristics of the cited studies were missing completely. Even if studies directly compared their findings with previous studies essential information was lacking.