What a Literature Review is
- Category: Documents for Authors
Review of Communication Research only publishes literature reviews
We publish two formats of literature reviews. We call "literature insights" the traditional narrative literature reviews. A "state of the literature" lacks the relevant insights that the other format offers. Meta-analysis can be either format. However, they are usually literature insights as they analyze previously published data in a new perspective.
To understand what we are seeking for, please, read the APA definition of literature reviews (APA, 6th Ed., p. 10):
"Literature reviews, including research syntheses and meta-analyses, are critical evaluations of material that has already been published. In meta-analyses, authors use quantitative procedures to statistically combine the results of studies. By organizing, integrating, and evaluating previously published material, authors of literature reviews consider the progress of research toward clarifying a problem. In a sense, literature reviews are tutorials, in that authors
• define and clarify the problem;
• summarize previous investigations to inform the reader of the state of research;
• identify relations, contradictions, gaps, and inconsistencies in the literature; and
• suggest the next step or steps in solving the problem.
The components of literature reviews can be arranged in various ways (e.g., by grouping research based on similarity in the concepts or theories of interest, methodological similarities among the studies reviewed, or the historical development of the field)."
The main difference between the articles we classify as literature insights and those we classify as state of the literature is that the former offer stronger insights for the advancement of the field (e.g., a new definition, a new theory, identify relevant contradictions unnoticed before), while the latter offer a critical vision of the state of literature at a moment in time, but does not give a strong input to the advancement of the literature.