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FCS 4370: Nutrition Research

Types of Articles

Literature Review

A literature review is a compilation of the research that has been done on a particular topic. The purpose is to present a summary of what is and is not known, identify gaps or areas of controversy, and to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the currently published work.

Example: Vitamin D: A Literature Review on its Effects and Use in Relation to Sunscreen Products


Review Article (or Review Literature)

Review articles provide an examination of recent or current literature on a particular topic. The range of material evaluated may be broad or very specific. It is usually not as in-depth as a Literature Review.

Example: Vitamin D supplementation as a potential therapeutic mediator in asthma: does dose really matter? A critical review of the literature


Research Articles

Research articles are published by scientists or researchers who want to make the results of their work known. Research articles usually include a summary of the research, a description of the research, how it was carried out, and the results. These studies could be experimental (on humans or animals) or observational.

Example, human experimental study: Randomized study of the effects of vitamin D and/or magnesium supplementation on mood, serum levels of BDNF, inflammation, and SIRT1 in obese women with mild to moderate depressive symptoms

Example, animal experimental study: Vitamin D Deficiency in Rats Causes Cardiac Dysfunction by Inducing Myocardial Insulin Resistance

Example, observational study: Association between serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D level and menstrual cycle length and regularity: A cross-sectional observational study.



Meta-analysis uses a statistical procedure to combine the findings from independent studies. These may then be used to evaluate therapeutic effectiveness and for planning new studies and is often used as an overview of clinical trials.

Example: Vitamin D status and risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma: An updated meta-analysis


Systematic Review

A systematic review focuses on a single question and tries to identify, appraise, select and synthesize all high-quality research evidence relevant to that question. It often uses the same techniques as the meta-analysis to combine valid research studies. The seven steps for preparing a systematic review as outlined by the Cochrane Handbook are: formulating the problem, locating & selecting studies, critical appraisal of the studies, collecting data, analyzing & presenting results, interpreting the results, improving & updating the systematic review.

Example: Vitamin D supplementation for term breastfed infants to prevent vitamin D deficiency and improve bone health


Evidence-Based Medicine

Evidence-based medicine is a systematic process of appraising and using current research findings. It is a step-by-step process that includes formulating a clear clinical question of patient needs, searching the current literature, evaluating the literature and deciding which studies are valid and useful to the patient, applying the findings to the patient's care, and then evaluating the outcome.

Example: Sunscreen photoprotection and vitamin D status.


Adapted From: UNTHSC Gibson D. Lewis Health Science Library

Peer Review

Articles submitted for peer review go through a vigorous process of inspection and consideration.

Watch the video, "Peer Review in 5 Minutes" for all the basics on peer reviewed journal articles.


Finding Peer Reviewed Articles in the Databases

Finding Peer Reviewed Articles in the Databases


When searching in the SPU Library Article Databases, look for the peer reviewed or scholarly check box when you begin your search:

Limit your results

or after your search you can pull out the peer reviewed/scholarly articles from your results:

Refine your results

Finding Peer Reviewed Articles on the Internet


Finding Peer Reviewed Articles on the Internet


When you find an article on the Internet, it may not be clear whether it is from a peer reviewed journal.

To determine whether a journal is peer reviewed,

  • Check the website for the journal.
    • It may say on the main page that the journal is peer reviewed.
    • If not, check the "About" or "Mission" section of the journal's website
    • If not, check the "Guidelines for Authors" or "Submission Guidelines" section of the journal's website
  • Ask me or another librarian