Skip to Main Content
The University of Manitoba campuses are located on original lands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the M├ętis Nation. More

KS Support for Rady Faculty of Health Sciences

What is a Narrative Review?

A narrative review (sometimes refered to as a literature review) is a summmary account of what has been published on a given topic, written primarily by researchers working in the topic area. These reviews illustrate what knowledge and ideas have been established, what the strengths and weaknesses of these ideas are, and identify controversies in the literature. Literature reviews may also formulate questions for further research and inquiry.

When conducting a narrative review, it is important to have a clearly defined research question or problem. Some important considerations wile planning a narrative review include:

  • Will you be looking at issues of theory, methodology, policy, or somethign else?
  • What type of analysis is appropriate for your topic?
  • How do you plant to present your findings: based on chronology, concept, or theme?
  • Are there “key works” that might help guide or inform your review?

The requirements for literature searching for narrative reviews are less stringent than for other types of reviews (Grant & Booth, 2009).  Finding and analyzing everything ever produced on the topic is not required, and the "level of evidence" of the selected materials may be less important than with other types of reviews.

Recommended Resources


Grant, M. & Booth, A. (2009). A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologiesHealth Information and Libraries Journal, 26(2), 91-108. DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00848.x

National Center for Biotechnology Information. Review Literature as Topic. 2005. Available from: (accessed March 31 2017).



Have you spotted an error on this page? Please contact with details. Thank you.