Q: What is the difference between an exemplary review and an exhaustive review?

1 Answer to this question

The word ‘exemplary’ in this context refers to ‘examples,’ and that is the difference between the two types of review. Whereas an exhaustive review emphasizes its comprehensiveness, an exemplary review cites references mainly to illustrate the points being made by the reviewer. The exemplary review therefore demands that the reviewer have a point of view in the first place and the experience and the understanding to assess the literature on a given topic, develop a line of argument, and weave appropriate citations (examples) to support that line of argument. An exhaustive review, on the other hand, requires application rather than knowledge, and aims at being comprehensive and cites all relevant literature on each facet of the topic without being judgmental.

Incidentally, this sense of the word ‘exemplary’, namely, serving as an example, is more common in US English. (Merriam-Webster defines it as “serving as an example, instance, or illustration.”) In UK English, it means “very good and suitable to be copied by other people” (Cambridge English Dictionary) or “excellent or done in a way that other people should try to copy” (Macmillan Dictionary).

Hope that helps. For more on writing literature reviews, you may go through these resources.

Note: While the last link is about perspective pieces, we have shared it as an exemplary review is like a perspective piece, though longer. The second link would help you with an exhaustive review. It’s a course on R Upskill, a learning programs platform from a sister brand. R Upskill has many such courses aimed to help researchers/academics grow their skills. For a limited period, the courses are available for free – so, do try it out.

For now though, all the best for writing a review, in case that’s why you asked this query. :-)