A methodological review of systematic literature reviews in higher education: heterogeneity and homogeneity

Sin Wang Chong*, Lin Ting Jun, Yulu Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
91 Downloads (Pure)


The field of higher education research has bourgeoned in the past decades, addressing a wide range of topics. Being in a rapidly expanding and interdisciplinary field of research, higher education scholars have demonstrated exigency for aggregating research findings to map the research landscape, identify future research directions, and bridge the research-practice divide. In this connection, systematic literature reviews have been carried out to consolidate research findings. With a proliferation of systematic literature reviews in higher education, the aim of this meta, methodological review is to provide a state-of-the-art systematic literature review methodologies in the field of higher education. Adhering to the exploratory nature of this study, this review analyses systematic literature reviews published in 16 top-tiered international journals in higher education (n = 160). Through qualitative research synthesis using thematic analysis and informed by grounded theory, a methodological framework comprising six stages and 20 steps is developed, which might help to instigate methodological dialogue between researchers when it comes to conducting systematic literature reviews. A handy checklist for conducting and evaluating systematic literature reviews in higher education is created.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100426
Number of pages12
JournalEducational Research Review
Early online date15 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022


  • Methodology
  • Higher education
  • Systematic review
  • Scoping review
  • Research synthesis


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