Advancing the science of literature reviewing in social research: the focused mapping review and synthesis

Caroline Bradbury-Jones, Jenna Breckenridge, Maria T. Clark, Oliver Rudolf Herber, Christine Jones, Julie Taylor

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    17 Citations (Scopus)
    147 Downloads (Pure)


    Literature reviews are an important and popular part of synthesising evidence across a range of disciplines. There are numerous approaches, each with their distinctive features and purposes. The aim of this article is to advance the science of literature reviewing by describing a new form of review: The ‘Focused Mapping Review and Synthesis’ (FMRS). We critique the approach and highlight its similarities and differences in relation to existing review methodologies. There are four key features of FMRS. It: 1) focuses on a defined field of knowledge rather than a body of evidence; 2) creates a descriptive map or topography of key features of research within the field rather than a synthesis of findings; 3) comments on the overall approach to knowledge production rather than the state of the evidence; 4) examines this within a broader epistemological context. The FMRS can be used to answer questions that might not be appropriate for other review types and potentially offers a useful addition to the methodological toolkit of social researchers from multiple disciplines.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)451-462
    Number of pages12
    JournalInternational Journal of Social Research Methodology
    Issue number5
    Early online date18 Feb 2019
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2019


    • Evidence
    • focused mapping review
    • knowledge synthesis
    • literature review
    • methodology
    • scientific inquiry
    • social research
    • synthesis

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Sciences(all)


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