A review article, also known as literature review, is an evaluation of previously published literature or data on a topic. It gives an overview of what has been done and found and generally does not present new data from the author’s own experiments.
The objectives of a literature review is to lay down a comprehensive foundation on the existing literature and current trends, highlight the main methodologies and research techniques, provide a critical and constructive analysis and possibly identify potential areas for future studies. Review
articles, thus, help other researchers by laying out the current knowledge, existing gaps and future research directions.
Given below are a few guidelines on how to write a review paper.
- Choose a topic and define the scope: The foremost step is to do a broad survey of research topics. Current research questions of public interest or any areas of controversy in the field of
interest may be used as factors in deciding the topic. Define the scope of your article so that the topic is not too broad to be thoroughly addressed, nevertheless, it should also be kept in mind to choose a topic with sufficient background information.
- Search for sources to evaluate: Once the topic has been identified, find scientifically legitimate sources of information on the topic and narrow it down to the most significant ones to be evaluated. While reading a research paper or book chapter, make sure to note down the important points or central claims made by the author along with the supporting data and identify any contradictions or inconsistencies or unanswered questions found.
- Create an outline: Organise your points and create an outline of the article structure and list the topics or sub-topics that you want to incorporate in your article logically, which
will also later constitute the main elements of your article.
- Decide on the title of the review article: The title should be concise, informative and should clearly reflect the main focus of the article.
- Introduce the topic: The introduction should provide an overview of the topic along with the necessary background information. It should also put forward the central theme of the article and its relevance.
- Write the body of the paper: Elucidate the important results from the primary literature articles and describe their importance and contributions. Nevertheless, keep in mind that a review article is not a pure summary of the research paper that you have reviewed. The main body should be a critical analysis of the primary source where the original information interpreted in a meaningful way. In other words, instead of simply asserting the comments already reported by the primary source, go beyond and identify research gaps or opportunities for further research.
- Conclude the article: Summarise the major points briefly and point out the significance of such findings, for example, whether there has been any changes in the understanding of this topic since the last review. It should also shed light on the current challenges faced by researchers working on this topic or questions that are yet to be addressed or any other suggestions for further research.
- Cite your references: List out all the scientific papers or books that you have reviewed in the bibliography section. Read the journal’s instructions. Not every journal shares the same guidelines, therefore, before submitting carefully read the instructions of the journal where you wish to submit the review and make sure your article meets the journal’s page limits or formatting requirements.