This question relates to medical publications but it is surely relevant to other fields. Consider the following publications:

  1. The first is a textbook type of paper, its goal is to describe the best practice in a field and it contains minimal, if any, original research. There will be a vast breadth of citations from different topics.

  2. The second is a medical study by a single team where they perform a repeatable process to learn more about subjects. They will mention N=500 or however many subjects they have.

  3. The third is a medical study that reviews several studies of type #2 above. The goal is to aggregate multiple single case studies (N=1) and other studies with N>1. The goal of this paper is to increase reliability by having a higher N, or it may be to repurpose the data into different categories. E.g. it may take five studies of N=100 and then separate them into N=250 females and N=250 males.

Are there a commonly-used terms that describes these three situations?

  • 1
    I think (1) might be called a survey, review, or systematic review. (3) sounds like a meta-analysis. Mar 18 '17 at 17:56

Category #1 I would call a literature review (or survey.)

Category #3 is a meta-review (aka meta-analysis).

The papers in category #2 tend to be described by their methodology (case study, experiment, etc).

  • +1, but I think "meta analysis" is more commonly used than "meta review".
    – henning
    Mar 23 '17 at 9:27

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