What is a Literature Review? How to Write It (with Examples)

literature review

A literature review is a critical analysis and synthesis of existing research on a particular topic. It provides an overview of the current state of knowledge, identifies gaps, and highlights key findings in the literature. 1 The purpose of a literature review is to situate your own research within the context of existing scholarship, demonstrating your understanding of the topic and showing how your work contributes to the ongoing conversation in the field. Learning how to write a literature review is a critical tool for successful research. Your ability to summarize and synthesize prior research pertaining to a certain topic demonstrates your grasp on the topic of study, and assists in the learning process. 

Table of Contents

  • What is the purpose of literature review? 
  • a. Habitat Loss and Species Extinction: 
  • b. Range Shifts and Phenological Changes: 
  • c. Ocean Acidification and Coral Reefs: 
  • d. Adaptive Strategies and Conservation Efforts: 
  • How to write a good literature review 
  • Choose a Topic and Define the Research Question: 
  • Decide on the Scope of Your Review: 
  • Select Databases for Searches: 
  • Conduct Searches and Keep Track: 
  • Review the Literature: 
  • Organize and Write Your Literature Review: 
  • Frequently asked questions 

What is a literature review?

A well-conducted literature review demonstrates the researcher’s familiarity with the existing literature, establishes the context for their own research, and contributes to scholarly conversations on the topic. One of the purposes of a literature review is also to help researchers avoid duplicating previous work and ensure that their research is informed by and builds upon the existing body of knowledge.

writing review of research paper

What is the purpose of literature review?

A literature review serves several important purposes within academic and research contexts. Here are some key objectives and functions of a literature review: 2  

  • Contextualizing the Research Problem: The literature review provides a background and context for the research problem under investigation. It helps to situate the study within the existing body of knowledge. 
  • Identifying Gaps in Knowledge: By identifying gaps, contradictions, or areas requiring further research, the researcher can shape the research question and justify the significance of the study. This is crucial for ensuring that the new research contributes something novel to the field. 
  • Understanding Theoretical and Conceptual Frameworks: Literature reviews help researchers gain an understanding of the theoretical and conceptual frameworks used in previous studies. This aids in the development of a theoretical framework for the current research. 
  • Providing Methodological Insights: Another purpose of literature reviews is that it allows researchers to learn about the methodologies employed in previous studies. This can help in choosing appropriate research methods for the current study and avoiding pitfalls that others may have encountered. 
  • Establishing Credibility: A well-conducted literature review demonstrates the researcher’s familiarity with existing scholarship, establishing their credibility and expertise in the field. It also helps in building a solid foundation for the new research. 
  • Informing Hypotheses or Research Questions: The literature review guides the formulation of hypotheses or research questions by highlighting relevant findings and areas of uncertainty in existing literature. 

Literature review example

Let’s delve deeper with a literature review example: Let’s say your literature review is about the impact of climate change on biodiversity. You might format your literature review into sections such as the effects of climate change on habitat loss and species extinction, phenological changes, and marine biodiversity. Each section would then summarize and analyze relevant studies in those areas, highlighting key findings and identifying gaps in the research. The review would conclude by emphasizing the need for further research on specific aspects of the relationship between climate change and biodiversity. The following literature review template provides a glimpse into the recommended literature review structure and content, demonstrating how research findings are organized around specific themes within a broader topic. 

Literature Review on Climate Change Impacts on Biodiversity:

Climate change is a global phenomenon with far-reaching consequences, including significant impacts on biodiversity. This literature review synthesizes key findings from various studies: 

a. Habitat Loss and Species Extinction:

Climate change-induced alterations in temperature and precipitation patterns contribute to habitat loss, affecting numerous species (Thomas et al., 2004). The review discusses how these changes increase the risk of extinction, particularly for species with specific habitat requirements. 

b. Range Shifts and Phenological Changes:

Observations of range shifts and changes in the timing of biological events (phenology) are documented in response to changing climatic conditions (Parmesan & Yohe, 2003). These shifts affect ecosystems and may lead to mismatches between species and their resources. 

c. Ocean Acidification and Coral Reefs:

The review explores the impact of climate change on marine biodiversity, emphasizing ocean acidification’s threat to coral reefs (Hoegh-Guldberg et al., 2007). Changes in pH levels negatively affect coral calcification, disrupting the delicate balance of marine ecosystems. 

d. Adaptive Strategies and Conservation Efforts:

Recognizing the urgency of the situation, the literature review discusses various adaptive strategies adopted by species and conservation efforts aimed at mitigating the impacts of climate change on biodiversity (Hannah et al., 2007). It emphasizes the importance of interdisciplinary approaches for effective conservation planning. 

writing review of research paper

How to write a good literature review

Writing a literature review involves summarizing and synthesizing existing research on a particular topic. A good literature review format should include the following elements. 

Introduction: The introduction sets the stage for your literature review, providing context and introducing the main focus of your review. 

  • Opening Statement: Begin with a general statement about the broader topic and its significance in the field. 
  • Scope and Purpose: Clearly define the scope of your literature review. Explain the specific research question or objective you aim to address. 
  • Organizational Framework: Briefly outline the structure of your literature review, indicating how you will categorize and discuss the existing research. 
  • Significance of the Study: Highlight why your literature review is important and how it contributes to the understanding of the chosen topic. 
  • Thesis Statement: Conclude the introduction with a concise thesis statement that outlines the main argument or perspective you will develop in the body of the literature review. 

Body: The body of the literature review is where you provide a comprehensive analysis of existing literature, grouping studies based on themes, methodologies, or other relevant criteria. 

  • Organize by Theme or Concept: Group studies that share common themes, concepts, or methodologies. Discuss each theme or concept in detail, summarizing key findings and identifying gaps or areas of disagreement. 
  • Critical Analysis: Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each study. Discuss the methodologies used, the quality of evidence, and the overall contribution of each work to the understanding of the topic. 
  • Synthesis of Findings: Synthesize the information from different studies to highlight trends, patterns, or areas of consensus in the literature. 
  • Identification of Gaps: Discuss any gaps or limitations in the existing research and explain how your review contributes to filling these gaps. 
  • Transition between Sections: Provide smooth transitions between different themes or concepts to maintain the flow of your literature review. 

Conclusion: The conclusion of your literature review should summarize the main findings, highlight the contributions of the review, and suggest avenues for future research. 

  • Summary of Key Findings: Recap the main findings from the literature and restate how they contribute to your research question or objective. 
  • Contributions to the Field: Discuss the overall contribution of your literature review to the existing knowledge in the field. 
  • Implications and Applications: Explore the practical implications of the findings and suggest how they might impact future research or practice. 
  • Recommendations for Future Research: Identify areas that require further investigation and propose potential directions for future research in the field. 
  • Final Thoughts: Conclude with a final reflection on the importance of your literature review and its relevance to the broader academic community. 

what is a literature review

Conducting a literature review

Conducting a literature review is an essential step in research that involves reviewing and analyzing existing literature on a specific topic. It’s important to know how to do a literature review effectively, so here are the steps to follow: 1  

Choose a Topic and Define the Research Question:

  • Select a topic that is relevant to your field of study. 
  • Clearly define your research question or objective. Determine what specific aspect of the topic do you want to explore? 

Decide on the Scope of Your Review:

  • Determine the timeframe for your literature review. Are you focusing on recent developments, or do you want a historical overview? 
  • Consider the geographical scope. Is your review global, or are you focusing on a specific region? 
  • Define the inclusion and exclusion criteria. What types of sources will you include? Are there specific types of studies or publications you will exclude? 

Select Databases for Searches:

  • Identify relevant databases for your field. Examples include PubMed, IEEE Xplore, Scopus, Web of Science, and Google Scholar. 
  • Consider searching in library catalogs, institutional repositories, and specialized databases related to your topic. 

Conduct Searches and Keep Track:

  • Develop a systematic search strategy using keywords, Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT), and other search techniques. 
  • Record and document your search strategy for transparency and replicability. 
  • Keep track of the articles, including publication details, abstracts, and links. Use citation management tools like EndNote, Zotero, or Mendeley to organize your references. 

Review the Literature:

  • Evaluate the relevance and quality of each source. Consider the methodology, sample size, and results of studies. 
  • Organize the literature by themes or key concepts. Identify patterns, trends, and gaps in the existing research. 
  • Summarize key findings and arguments from each source. Compare and contrast different perspectives. 
  • Identify areas where there is a consensus in the literature and where there are conflicting opinions. 
  • Provide critical analysis and synthesis of the literature. What are the strengths and weaknesses of existing research? 

Organize and Write Your Literature Review:

  • Literature review outline should be based on themes, chronological order, or methodological approaches. 
  • Write a clear and coherent narrative that synthesizes the information gathered. 
  • Use proper citations for each source and ensure consistency in your citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.). 
  • Conclude your literature review by summarizing key findings, identifying gaps, and suggesting areas for future research. 

The literature review sample and detailed advice on writing and conducting a review will help you produce a well-structured report. But remember that a literature review is an ongoing process, and it may be necessary to revisit and update it as your research progresses. 

Frequently asked questions

A literature review is a critical and comprehensive analysis of existing literature (published and unpublished works) on a specific topic or research question and provides a synthesis of the current state of knowledge in a particular field. A well-conducted literature review is crucial for researchers to build upon existing knowledge, avoid duplication of efforts, and contribute to the advancement of their field. It also helps researchers situate their work within a broader context and facilitates the development of a sound theoretical and conceptual framework for their studies.

Literature review is a crucial component of research writing, providing a solid background for a research paper’s investigation. The aim is to keep professionals up to date by providing an understanding of ongoing developments within a specific field, including research methods, and experimental techniques used in that field, and present that knowledge in the form of a written report. Also, the depth and breadth of the literature review emphasizes the credibility of the scholar in his or her field.  

Before writing a literature review, it’s essential to undertake several preparatory steps to ensure that your review is well-researched, organized, and focused. This includes choosing a topic of general interest to you and doing exploratory research on that topic, writing an annotated bibliography, and noting major points, especially those that relate to the position you have taken on the topic. 

Literature reviews and academic research papers are essential components of scholarly work but serve different purposes within the academic realm. 3 A literature review aims to provide a foundation for understanding the current state of research on a particular topic, identify gaps or controversies, and lay the groundwork for future research. Therefore, it draws heavily from existing academic sources, including books, journal articles, and other scholarly publications. In contrast, an academic research paper aims to present new knowledge, contribute to the academic discourse, and advance the understanding of a specific research question. Therefore, it involves a mix of existing literature (in the introduction and literature review sections) and original data or findings obtained through research methods. 

Literature reviews are essential components of academic and research papers, and various strategies can be employed to conduct them effectively. If you want to know how to write a literature review for a research paper, here are four common approaches that are often used by researchers.  Chronological Review: This strategy involves organizing the literature based on the chronological order of publication. It helps to trace the development of a topic over time, showing how ideas, theories, and research have evolved.  Thematic Review: Thematic reviews focus on identifying and analyzing themes or topics that cut across different studies. Instead of organizing the literature chronologically, it is grouped by key themes or concepts, allowing for a comprehensive exploration of various aspects of the topic.  Methodological Review: This strategy involves organizing the literature based on the research methods employed in different studies. It helps to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of various methodologies and allows the reader to evaluate the reliability and validity of the research findings.  Theoretical Review: A theoretical review examines the literature based on the theoretical frameworks used in different studies. This approach helps to identify the key theories that have been applied to the topic and assess their contributions to the understanding of the subject.  It’s important to note that these strategies are not mutually exclusive, and a literature review may combine elements of more than one approach. The choice of strategy depends on the research question, the nature of the literature available, and the goals of the review. Additionally, other strategies, such as integrative reviews or systematic reviews, may be employed depending on the specific requirements of the research.

The literature review format can vary depending on the specific publication guidelines. However, there are some common elements and structures that are often followed. Here is a general guideline for the format of a literature review:  Introduction:   Provide an overview of the topic.  Define the scope and purpose of the literature review.  State the research question or objective.  Body:   Organize the literature by themes, concepts, or chronology.  Critically analyze and evaluate each source.  Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the studies.  Highlight any methodological limitations or biases.  Identify patterns, connections, or contradictions in the existing research.  Conclusion:   Summarize the key points discussed in the literature review.  Highlight the research gap.  Address the research question or objective stated in the introduction.  Highlight the contributions of the review and suggest directions for future research.

Both annotated bibliographies and literature reviews involve the examination of scholarly sources. While annotated bibliographies focus on individual sources with brief annotations, literature reviews provide a more in-depth, integrated, and comprehensive analysis of existing literature on a specific topic. The key differences are as follows: 

References 

  • Denney, A. S., & Tewksbury, R. (2013). How to write a literature review.  Journal of criminal justice education ,  24 (2), 218-234. 
  • Pan, M. L. (2016).  Preparing literature reviews: Qualitative and quantitative approaches . Taylor & Francis. 
  • Cantero, C. (2019). How to write a literature review.  San José State University Writing Center . 

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  • How to Write a Scientific Paper in 10 Steps 
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How to Write an Article Review

Last Updated: September 8, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Jake Adams . Jake Adams is an academic tutor and the owner of Simplifi EDU, a Santa Monica, California based online tutoring business offering learning resources and online tutors for academic subjects K-College, SAT & ACT prep, and college admissions applications. With over 14 years of professional tutoring experience, Jake is dedicated to providing his clients the very best online tutoring experience and access to a network of excellent undergraduate and graduate-level tutors from top colleges all over the nation. Jake holds a BS in International Business and Marketing from Pepperdine University. There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 3,084,872 times.

An article review is both a summary and an evaluation of another writer's article. Teachers often assign article reviews to introduce students to the work of experts in the field. Experts also are often asked to review the work of other professionals. Understanding the main points and arguments of the article is essential for an accurate summation. Logical evaluation of the article's main theme, supporting arguments, and implications for further research is an important element of a review . Here are a few guidelines for writing an article review.

Education specialist Alexander Peterman recommends: "In the case of a review, your objective should be to reflect on the effectiveness of what has already been written, rather than writing to inform your audience about a subject."

Things You Should Know

  • Read the article very closely, and then take time to reflect on your evaluation. Consider whether the article effectively achieves what it set out to.
  • Write out a full article review by completing your intro, summary, evaluation, and conclusion. Don't forget to add a title, too!
  • Proofread your review for mistakes (like grammar and usage), while also cutting down on needless information. [1] X Research source

Preparing to Write Your Review

Step 1 Understand what an article review is.

  • Article reviews present more than just an opinion. You will engage with the text to create a response to the scholarly writer's ideas. You will respond to and use ideas, theories, and research from your studies. Your critique of the article will be based on proof and your own thoughtful reasoning.
  • An article review only responds to the author's research. It typically does not provide any new research. However, if you are correcting misleading or otherwise incorrect points, some new data may be presented.
  • An article review both summarizes and evaluates the article.

Step 2 Think about the organization of the review article.

  • Summarize the article. Focus on the important points, claims, and information.
  • Discuss the positive aspects of the article. Think about what the author does well, good points she makes, and insightful observations.
  • Identify contradictions, gaps, and inconsistencies in the text. Determine if there is enough data or research included to support the author's claims. Find any unanswered questions left in the article.

Step 3 Preview the article.

  • Make note of words or issues you don't understand and questions you have.
  • Look up terms or concepts you are unfamiliar with, so you can fully understand the article. Read about concepts in-depth to make sure you understand their full context.

Step 4 Read the article closely.

  • Pay careful attention to the meaning of the article. Make sure you fully understand the article. The only way to write a good article review is to understand the article.

Step 5 Put the article into your words.

  • With either method, make an outline of the main points made in the article and the supporting research or arguments. It is strictly a restatement of the main points of the article and does not include your opinions.
  • After putting the article in your own words, decide which parts of the article you want to discuss in your review. You can focus on the theoretical approach, the content, the presentation or interpretation of evidence, or the style. You will always discuss the main issues of the article, but you can sometimes also focus on certain aspects. This comes in handy if you want to focus the review towards the content of a course.
  • Review the summary outline to eliminate unnecessary items. Erase or cross out the less important arguments or supplemental information. Your revised summary can serve as the basis for the summary you provide at the beginning of your review.

Step 6 Write an outline of your evaluation.

  • What does the article set out to do?
  • What is the theoretical framework or assumptions?
  • Are the central concepts clearly defined?
  • How adequate is the evidence?
  • How does the article fit into the literature and field?
  • Does it advance the knowledge of the subject?
  • How clear is the author's writing? Don't: include superficial opinions or your personal reaction. Do: pay attention to your biases, so you can overcome them.

Writing the Article Review

Step 1 Come up with...

  • For example, in MLA , a citation may look like: Duvall, John N. "The (Super)Marketplace of Images: Television as Unmediated Mediation in DeLillo's White Noise ." Arizona Quarterly 50.3 (1994): 127-53. Print. [10] X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source

Step 3 Identify the article.

  • For example: The article, "Condom use will increase the spread of AIDS," was written by Anthony Zimmerman, a Catholic priest.

Step 4 Write the introduction....

  • Your introduction should only be 10-25% of your review.
  • End the introduction with your thesis. Your thesis should address the above issues. For example: Although the author has some good points, his article is biased and contains some misinterpretation of data from others’ analysis of the effectiveness of the condom.

Step 5 Summarize the article.

  • Use direct quotes from the author sparingly.
  • Review the summary you have written. Read over your summary many times to ensure that your words are an accurate description of the author's article.

Step 6 Write your critique.

  • Support your critique with evidence from the article or other texts.
  • The summary portion is very important for your critique. You must make the author's argument clear in the summary section for your evaluation to make sense.
  • Remember, this is not where you say if you liked the article or not. You are assessing the significance and relevance of the article.
  • Use a topic sentence and supportive arguments for each opinion. For example, you might address a particular strength in the first sentence of the opinion section, followed by several sentences elaborating on the significance of the point.

Step 7 Conclude the article review.

  • This should only be about 10% of your overall essay.
  • For example: This critical review has evaluated the article "Condom use will increase the spread of AIDS" by Anthony Zimmerman. The arguments in the article show the presence of bias, prejudice, argumentative writing without supporting details, and misinformation. These points weaken the author’s arguments and reduce his credibility.

Step 8 Proofread.

  • Make sure you have identified and discussed the 3-4 key issues in the article.

Sample Article Reviews

writing review of research paper

Expert Q&A

Jake Adams

You Might Also Like

Write a Feature Article

  • ↑ https://writing.wisc.edu/handbook/grammarpunct/proofreading/
  • ↑ https://libguides.cmich.edu/writinghelp/articlereview
  • ↑ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4548566/
  • ↑ Jake Adams. Academic Tutor & Test Prep Specialist. Expert Interview. 24 July 2020.
  • ↑ https://guides.library.queensu.ca/introduction-research/writing/critical
  • ↑ https://www.iup.edu/writingcenter/writing-resources/organization-and-structure/creating-an-outline.html
  • ↑ https://writing.umn.edu/sws/assets/pdf/quicktips/titles.pdf
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_works_cited_periodicals.html
  • ↑ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4548565/
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.uconn.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/593/2014/06/How_to_Summarize_a_Research_Article1.pdf
  • ↑ https://www.uis.edu/learning-hub/writing-resources/handouts/learning-hub/how-to-review-a-journal-article
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/editing-and-proofreading/

About This Article

Jake Adams

If you have to write an article review, read through the original article closely, taking notes and highlighting important sections as you read. Next, rewrite the article in your own words, either in a long paragraph or as an outline. Open your article review by citing the article, then write an introduction which states the article’s thesis. Next, summarize the article, followed by your opinion about whether the article was clear, thorough, and useful. Finish with a paragraph that summarizes the main points of the article and your opinions. To learn more about what to include in your personal critique of the article, keep reading the article! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How to Write a Peer Review

writing review of research paper

When you write a peer review for a manuscript, what should you include in your comments? What should you leave out? And how should the review be formatted?

This guide provides quick tips for writing and organizing your reviewer report.

Review Outline

Use an outline for your reviewer report so it’s easy for the editors and author to follow. This will also help you keep your comments organized.

Think about structuring your review like an inverted pyramid. Put the most important information at the top, followed by details and examples in the center, and any additional points at the very bottom.

writing review of research paper

Here’s how your outline might look:

1. Summary of the research and your overall impression

In your own words, summarize what the manuscript claims to report. This shows the editor how you interpreted the manuscript and will highlight any major differences in perspective between you and the other reviewers. Give an overview of the manuscript’s strengths and weaknesses. Think about this as your “take-home” message for the editors. End this section with your recommended course of action.

2. Discussion of specific areas for improvement

It’s helpful to divide this section into two parts: one for major issues and one for minor issues. Within each section, you can talk about the biggest issues first or go systematically figure-by-figure or claim-by-claim. Number each item so that your points are easy to follow (this will also make it easier for the authors to respond to each point). Refer to specific lines, pages, sections, or figure and table numbers so the authors (and editors) know exactly what you’re talking about.

Major vs. minor issues

What’s the difference between a major and minor issue? Major issues should consist of the essential points the authors need to address before the manuscript can proceed. Make sure you focus on what is  fundamental for the current study . In other words, it’s not helpful to recommend additional work that would be considered the “next step” in the study. Minor issues are still important but typically will not affect the overall conclusions of the manuscript. Here are some examples of what would might go in the “minor” category:

  • Missing references (but depending on what is missing, this could also be a major issue)
  • Technical clarifications (e.g., the authors should clarify how a reagent works)
  • Data presentation (e.g., the authors should present p-values differently)
  • Typos, spelling, grammar, and phrasing issues

3. Any other points

Confidential comments for the editors.

Some journals have a space for reviewers to enter confidential comments about the manuscript. Use this space to mention concerns about the submission that you’d want the editors to consider before sharing your feedback with the authors, such as concerns about ethical guidelines or language quality. Any serious issues should be raised directly and immediately with the journal as well.

This section is also where you will disclose any potentially competing interests, and mention whether you’re willing to look at a revised version of the manuscript.

Do not use this space to critique the manuscript, since comments entered here will not be passed along to the authors.  If you’re not sure what should go in the confidential comments, read the reviewer instructions or check with the journal first before submitting your review. If you are reviewing for a journal that does not offer a space for confidential comments, consider writing to the editorial office directly with your concerns.

Get this outline in a template

Giving Feedback

Giving feedback is hard. Giving effective feedback can be even more challenging. Remember that your ultimate goal is to discuss what the authors would need to do in order to qualify for publication. The point is not to nitpick every piece of the manuscript. Your focus should be on providing constructive and critical feedback that the authors can use to improve their study.

If you’ve ever had your own work reviewed, you already know that it’s not always easy to receive feedback. Follow the golden rule: Write the type of review you’d want to receive if you were the author. Even if you decide not to identify yourself in the review, you should write comments that you would be comfortable signing your name to.

In your comments, use phrases like “ the authors’ discussion of X” instead of “ your discussion of X .” This will depersonalize the feedback and keep the focus on the manuscript instead of the authors.

General guidelines for effective feedback

writing review of research paper

  • Justify your recommendation with concrete evidence and specific examples.
  • Be specific so the authors know what they need to do to improve.
  • Be thorough. This might be the only time you read the manuscript.
  • Be professional and respectful. The authors will be reading these comments too.
  • Remember to say what you liked about the manuscript!

writing review of research paper

Don’t

  • Recommend additional experiments or  unnecessary elements that are out of scope for the study or for the journal criteria.
  • Tell the authors exactly how to revise their manuscript—you don’t need to do their work for them.
  • Use the review to promote your own research or hypotheses.
  • Focus on typos and grammar. If the manuscript needs significant editing for language and writing quality, just mention this in your comments.
  • Submit your review without proofreading it and checking everything one more time.

Before and After: Sample Reviewer Comments

Keeping in mind the guidelines above, how do you put your thoughts into words? Here are some sample “before” and “after” reviewer comments

✗ Before

“The authors appear to have no idea what they are talking about. I don’t think they have read any of the literature on this topic.”

✓ After

“The study fails to address how the findings relate to previous research in this area. The authors should rewrite their Introduction and Discussion to reference the related literature, especially recently published work such as Darwin et al.”

“The writing is so bad, it is practically unreadable. I could barely bring myself to finish it.”

“While the study appears to be sound, the language is unclear, making it difficult to follow. I advise the authors work with a writing coach or copyeditor to improve the flow and readability of the text.”

“It’s obvious that this type of experiment should have been included. I have no idea why the authors didn’t use it. This is a big mistake.”

“The authors are off to a good start, however, this study requires additional experiments, particularly [type of experiment]. Alternatively, the authors should include more information that clarifies and justifies their choice of methods.”

Suggested Language for Tricky Situations

You might find yourself in a situation where you’re not sure how to explain the problem or provide feedback in a constructive and respectful way. Here is some suggested language for common issues you might experience.

What you think : The manuscript is fatally flawed. What you could say: “The study does not appear to be sound” or “the authors have missed something crucial”.

What you think : You don’t completely understand the manuscript. What you could say : “The authors should clarify the following sections to avoid confusion…”

What you think : The technical details don’t make sense. What you could say : “The technical details should be expanded and clarified to ensure that readers understand exactly what the researchers studied.”

What you think: The writing is terrible. What you could say : “The authors should revise the language to improve readability.”

What you think : The authors have over-interpreted the findings. What you could say : “The authors aim to demonstrate [XYZ], however, the data does not fully support this conclusion. Specifically…”

What does a good review look like?

Check out the peer review examples at F1000 Research to see how other reviewers write up their reports and give constructive feedback to authors.

Time to Submit the Review!

Be sure you turn in your report on time. Need an extension? Tell the journal so that they know what to expect. If you need a lot of extra time, the journal might need to contact other reviewers or notify the author about the delay.

Tip: Building a relationship with an editor

You’ll be more likely to be asked to review again if you provide high-quality feedback and if you turn in the review on time. Especially if it’s your first review for a journal, it’s important to show that you are reliable. Prove yourself once and you’ll get asked to review again!

  • Getting started as a reviewer
  • Responding to an invitation
  • Reading a manuscript
  • Writing a peer review

The contents of the Peer Review Center are also available as a live, interactive training session, complete with slides, talking points, and activities. …

The contents of the Writing Center are also available as a live, interactive training session, complete with slides, talking points, and activities. …

There’s a lot to consider when deciding where to submit your work. Learn how to choose a journal that will help your study reach its audience, while reflecting your values as a researcher…

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  • CAREER FEATURE
  • 04 December 2020
  • Correction 09 December 2020

How to write a superb literature review

Andy Tay is a freelance writer based in Singapore.

You can also search for this author in PubMed   Google Scholar

Literature reviews are important resources for scientists. They provide historical context for a field while offering opinions on its future trajectory. Creating them can provide inspiration for one’s own research, as well as some practice in writing. But few scientists are trained in how to write a review — or in what constitutes an excellent one. Even picking the appropriate software to use can be an involved decision (see ‘Tools and techniques’). So Nature asked editors and working scientists with well-cited reviews for their tips.

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doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-020-03422-x

Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

Updates & Corrections

Correction 09 December 2020 : An earlier version of the tables in this article included some incorrect details about the programs Zotero, Endnote and Manubot. These have now been corrected.

Hsing, I.-M., Xu, Y. & Zhao, W. Electroanalysis 19 , 755–768 (2007).

Article   Google Scholar  

Ledesma, H. A. et al. Nature Nanotechnol. 14 , 645–657 (2019).

Article   PubMed   Google Scholar  

Brahlek, M., Koirala, N., Bansal, N. & Oh, S. Solid State Commun. 215–216 , 54–62 (2015).

Choi, Y. & Lee, S. Y. Nature Rev. Chem . https://doi.org/10.1038/s41570-020-00221-w (2020).

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How to write the literature review of your research paper

Study Background & Introduction

Dr. Rishibha Sachdev

How to write the literature review of your research paper

Many researchers struggle when it comes to writing literature review for their research paper. A literature review is a comprehensive overview of all the knowledge available on a specific topic till date. When you decide on a research topic, usually the first step you take in the direction of conducting research is learn more about the previous research published on the topic, and this eventually translates into literature review when you write your research paper. Literature review is one of the pillars on which your research idea stands since it provides context, relevance, and background to the research problem you are exploring.  

Types of literature review

writing review of research paper

Theoretical literature review essentially involves two steps: 

  • Surveying and critically reading the existing literature: this step is commonly referred to as experimental literature review.
  • Summarizing and actually penning down the gist of your review in an organized manner: this is known as theoretical review.

Literature review could be a part of a dissertation or research article and a stand-alone literature review. Let us look at this in more detail.

Literature reviews for dissertation/research article

Every research report/ thesis/research article begins with an introduction to the topic of research. This forms the literature review for the article. The main purpose of the review is to introduce the readers to the need for conducting the said research. A literature review should begin with a thorough literature search using the main keywords in relevant online databases such as Google Scholar , PubMed , etc. Once all the relevant literature has been gathered, it should be organized as follows:

  • Background literature about the broad research topic to introduce the readers to the field of study.
  • Recent progress on the study topic which can be organized thematically or chronologically. Ideally, separate themes should be discussed in a chronological manner to describe how research in the field has evolved over time and to highlight the progress in the field.
  • The review should include a comparison and contrast of different studies. Discussing the controversial aspects helps to identify the main gaps that need to be worked upon. This is essential for defining the problem statement of the study and highlighting the significance of the research under question.
  • Once a problem statement has been defined, the strengths and pitfalls of other studies that have tackled the problem statement should be discussed. This is important for outlining the need and novelty of the research.

A literature review should not be a mere recounting of all the available information. It should be a critical and analytical summary of the selected literature that guides the readers through the central theme of the research.

Does your publication goal seem near yet too far? Explore the #POWERofMORE – the boost you need to achieve all your goals Click here to know more!   

Stand-alone literature reviews

Literature reviews can also be written as stand-alone articles. These are not different from the literature review sections described above; however, they are not followed by experimental data.

They basically fall into 2 broad categories: narrative reviews and systematic reviews.

1. Narrative reviews

These are theoretical discussions of relevant information on a particular topic and its critical analysis. These are mostly qualitative in nature similar to the review sections of larger articles.

Narrative reviews are usually organized as follows:

Introduction that establishes the context of the field of research and the topic of the review

Body is normally used for describing the different themes under the main topic by dividing them into different subheadings. This section compares and contrasts published studies and identifies gaps that have not been addressed or have been unsuccessfully addressed.

Conclusions. This section differs slightly between reviews which are part of research articles and narrative reviews. The section describes the main conclusions from analysis of all the current studies and puts forth further avenues for research. This section requires critical interpretation by the author such that the review adds value to existing literature. It should bring out ideas/hypotheses that can explain any discrepancies and provide solutions to existing problems.

2. Systematic reviews

On the other hand, systematic reviews follow a well-planned methodology to qualitatively or quantitatively analyze a defined number of studies. They usually focus on a single question and have clear study objectives that are worked upon in a systematic manner. These studies are based on a well-defined strategy unlike narrative reviews. Systematic reviews and narrative reviews are organized slightly differently. The details are described below:

Introduction: Systematic reviews begin with specific research questions that are defined in terms of the samples and research outcomes to be studied.

Methods (only for systematic reviews):  These studies have a comprehensive methodology that starts by narrowing down the literature for the review. Usually, specific inclusion/exclusion criteria are set based on the research questions and databases are searched based on these criteria. Once the sample studies have been shortlisted, they are analyzed in detail.

Results: The results section for these studies involves comprehensive data analysis to determine the significance of the study outcomes. Systematic reviews can be accompanied with Meta-analysis which involves statistical analysis of the included studies to increase the power of the results.

Discussion: This section usually interprets the study data based on their weighted significance and the power of the results. The study therefore provides strengthened results that are validated by the scientific rigor of the analytical method.

Before starting to write a review, it is important to determine what kind of review you want to write and follow the appropriate style and guidelines. An effective literature review is important for the complete life cycle of a research from defining the right research goals to correctly interpreting and presenting the research results.

If you wish to learn in more depth how to conduct literature search, check out this course designed exclusively for researchers:  How to conduct an effective literature search and review .

Bonus takeaway exclusively for community members

Writing a literature review requires you to read through and collate several research articles and literature sources. This can get very confusing considering the large amount of publications that need to be organized. There is no set way to do this as it will depend on your preference for reading printed articles or online resources. If you are old school and read printed articles better, then you should create a folder with all articles organized in this way:

1. Alphabetically with the last name of the first author, or

2. Chronologically with the date of publication, or

3. Thematically with different themes organized chronologically

For the more tech-savy users, organization of literature either by year of publication or themes would be more ideal. Citing and creating a reference list in your manuscript can be done either manually or by using reference management tools like Endnote from Clarivate analytics. Endnote is an excellent way to store your research library and import it into the manuscript in the format required by the journal.

The tips and guidelines in this post should help you write your literature review with ease.

Related reading: 

  • A young researcher's guide to writing a literature review
  • 5 Tips to write a great literature review

References:

  • Tips for effective literature searching and keeping up with new publications
  • Writing a Literature Review
  • Systematic literature review X narrative review
  • Systematic Reviews: What is a systematic review?

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Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Writing a Literature Review

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A literature review is a document or section of a document that collects key sources on a topic and discusses those sources in conversation with each other (also called synthesis ). The lit review is an important genre in many disciplines, not just literature (i.e., the study of works of literature such as novels and plays). When we say “literature review” or refer to “the literature,” we are talking about the research ( scholarship ) in a given field. You will often see the terms “the research,” “the scholarship,” and “the literature” used mostly interchangeably.

Where, when, and why would I write a lit review?

There are a number of different situations where you might write a literature review, each with slightly different expectations; different disciplines, too, have field-specific expectations for what a literature review is and does. For instance, in the humanities, authors might include more overt argumentation and interpretation of source material in their literature reviews, whereas in the sciences, authors are more likely to report study designs and results in their literature reviews; these differences reflect these disciplines’ purposes and conventions in scholarship. You should always look at examples from your own discipline and talk to professors or mentors in your field to be sure you understand your discipline’s conventions, for literature reviews as well as for any other genre.

A literature review can be a part of a research paper or scholarly article, usually falling after the introduction and before the research methods sections. In these cases, the lit review just needs to cover scholarship that is important to the issue you are writing about; sometimes it will also cover key sources that informed your research methodology.

Lit reviews can also be standalone pieces, either as assignments in a class or as publications. In a class, a lit review may be assigned to help students familiarize themselves with a topic and with scholarship in their field, get an idea of the other researchers working on the topic they’re interested in, find gaps in existing research in order to propose new projects, and/or develop a theoretical framework and methodology for later research. As a publication, a lit review usually is meant to help make other scholars’ lives easier by collecting and summarizing, synthesizing, and analyzing existing research on a topic. This can be especially helpful for students or scholars getting into a new research area, or for directing an entire community of scholars toward questions that have not yet been answered.

What are the parts of a lit review?

Most lit reviews use a basic introduction-body-conclusion structure; if your lit review is part of a larger paper, the introduction and conclusion pieces may be just a few sentences while you focus most of your attention on the body. If your lit review is a standalone piece, the introduction and conclusion take up more space and give you a place to discuss your goals, research methods, and conclusions separately from where you discuss the literature itself.

Introduction:

  • An introductory paragraph that explains what your working topic and thesis is
  • A forecast of key topics or texts that will appear in the review
  • Potentially, a description of how you found sources and how you analyzed them for inclusion and discussion in the review (more often found in published, standalone literature reviews than in lit review sections in an article or research paper)
  • Summarize and synthesize: Give an overview of the main points of each source and combine them into a coherent whole
  • Analyze and interpret: Don’t just paraphrase other researchers – add your own interpretations where possible, discussing the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole
  • Critically Evaluate: Mention the strengths and weaknesses of your sources
  • Write in well-structured paragraphs: Use transition words and topic sentence to draw connections, comparisons, and contrasts.

Conclusion:

  • Summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance
  • Connect it back to your primary research question

How should I organize my lit review?

Lit reviews can take many different organizational patterns depending on what you are trying to accomplish with the review. Here are some examples:

  • Chronological : The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time, which helps familiarize the audience with the topic (for instance if you are introducing something that is not commonly known in your field). If you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order. Try to analyze the patterns, turning points, and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred (as mentioned previously, this may not be appropriate in your discipline — check with a teacher or mentor if you’re unsure).
  • Thematic : If you have found some recurring central themes that you will continue working with throughout your piece, you can organize your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic. For example, if you are reviewing literature about women and religion, key themes can include the role of women in churches and the religious attitude towards women.
  • Qualitative versus quantitative research
  • Empirical versus theoretical scholarship
  • Divide the research by sociological, historical, or cultural sources
  • Theoretical : In many humanities articles, the literature review is the foundation for the theoretical framework. You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts. You can argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach or combine various theorical concepts to create a framework for your research.

What are some strategies or tips I can use while writing my lit review?

Any lit review is only as good as the research it discusses; make sure your sources are well-chosen and your research is thorough. Don’t be afraid to do more research if you discover a new thread as you’re writing. More info on the research process is available in our "Conducting Research" resources .

As you’re doing your research, create an annotated bibliography ( see our page on the this type of document ). Much of the information used in an annotated bibliography can be used also in a literature review, so you’ll be not only partially drafting your lit review as you research, but also developing your sense of the larger conversation going on among scholars, professionals, and any other stakeholders in your topic.

Usually you will need to synthesize research rather than just summarizing it. This means drawing connections between sources to create a picture of the scholarly conversation on a topic over time. Many student writers struggle to synthesize because they feel they don’t have anything to add to the scholars they are citing; here are some strategies to help you:

  • It often helps to remember that the point of these kinds of syntheses is to show your readers how you understand your research, to help them read the rest of your paper.
  • Writing teachers often say synthesis is like hosting a dinner party: imagine all your sources are together in a room, discussing your topic. What are they saying to each other?
  • Look at the in-text citations in each paragraph. Are you citing just one source for each paragraph? This usually indicates summary only. When you have multiple sources cited in a paragraph, you are more likely to be synthesizing them (not always, but often
  • Read more about synthesis here.

The most interesting literature reviews are often written as arguments (again, as mentioned at the beginning of the page, this is discipline-specific and doesn’t work for all situations). Often, the literature review is where you can establish your research as filling a particular gap or as relevant in a particular way. You have some chance to do this in your introduction in an article, but the literature review section gives a more extended opportunity to establish the conversation in the way you would like your readers to see it. You can choose the intellectual lineage you would like to be part of and whose definitions matter most to your thinking (mostly humanities-specific, but this goes for sciences as well). In addressing these points, you argue for your place in the conversation, which tends to make the lit review more compelling than a simple reporting of other sources.

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How to Write a Best Review Paper to Get More Citation

Review Paper Writing Guide

Dr. Sowndarya Somasundaram

How to Write Review Paper

Table of contents

What is a review paper, difference between a review paper and a research paper.

  • 6 Types of Review Papers

Purpose of Review Paper

Criteria for good review paper, step-by-step systematic procedure to write a review paper, title, abstract, keywords, introduction, various topics to discuss the critical issues, conclusion and future perspectives, acknowledgment       .

Are you new to academia? Do you want to learn how to write a good review paper to get in-depth knowledge about your domain? you are at the right place. In this article, you will learn how to write the best review paper in a step-by-step systematic procedure with a sample review article format to get more Citation.

A review paper, or a literature review , is a thorough, analytical examination of previously published literature. It also provides an overview of current research works on a particular topic in chronological order.

  • The main objective of writing a review paper is to evaluate the existing data or results, which can be done through analysis, modeling, classification, comparison, and summary.  
  • Review papers can help to identify the research gaps, to explore potential areas in a particular field.
  • It helps to come out with new conclusions from already published works.
  • Any scholar or researcher or scientist who wants to carry out research on a specific theme, first read the review articles relevant to that research area to understand the research gap for arriving at the problem statement.
  • Writing a review article provides clarity, novelty, and contribution to the area of research and it demands a great level of in-depth understanding of the subject and a well-structured arrangement of discussions and arguments.
  • Some journals publish only review papers, and they do not accept research articles. It is important to check the journal submission guidelines.

The difference between a review paper and a research paper is presented below.

6 T ypes of Review Papers

The review papers are classified in to six main categories based on the theme and it is presented in the figure below.

Types of Review Papers

The purpose of a review paper is to assess a particular research question, theoretical or practical approach which provides readers with in-depth knowledge and state-of-the-art understanding of the research area.

The purpose of the review paper can vary based on their specific type and research needs.

  • Provide a unified, collective overview of the current state of knowledge on a specific research topic and provide an inclusive foundation on a research theme.
  • Identify ambiguity, and contradictions in existing results or data.
  • Highlight the existing methodological approaches, research techniques, and unique perceptions.
  • Develop theoretical outlines to resolve and work on published research.
  • Discuss research gaps and future perspectives.

A good review paper needs to achieve three important criteria. ( Palmatier et al 2017 ).

  • First, the area of research should be suitable for writing a review paper so that the author finds sufficient published literature.
  • The review paper should be written with suitable literature, detailed discussion, sufficient data/results to support the interpretation, and persuasive language style.
  • A completed review paper should provide substantial new innovative ideas to the readers based on the comparison of published works.

Review papers are widely read by many researchers and it helps to get more citations for author. So, it is important to learn how to write a review paper and find a journal to publish .

Time needed:  20 days and 7 hours

The systematic procedural steps to write the best review paper are as follows:

Select a suitable area in your research field formulate clear objectives, and prepare the specific research hypotheses that are to be explored.

Designing your research work is an important step for any researcher. Based on the objectives, develop a clear methodology or protocol to review a review paper.

Thorough analysis and understanding of different published works help the author to identify suitable and relevant data/results that will be used to write the paper.

The degree of analysis to evaluate the collected data varies by extensive review. The examination of trends, patterns, ideas, comparisons, and relationships in the study provides deeper knowledge on that area of research .

Interpretation of results is very important for a good review paper. The author should present the discussion systematically without any ambiguity. The results can be presented in descriptive form, tables, and figures. The new insights should have an in-depth discussion of the topic in line with fundamentals. Finally, the author is expected to present the limitations of the existing study with future perspectives.

Steps to Write a Review Paper

Sample Review Article Format

Write an effective and suitable title, abstract, and keywords relevant to your review paper. This will maximize the visibility of your paper online for the readers to find your work. Your title and abstract should be clear, concise, appropriate, and informative.

Present a detailed introduction to your research which is published in chronological order in your own words. Don’t summarize the published literature. The introduction should encourage the readers to read your paper.

Make sure you present a critical discussion, not a descriptive summary of the topic. If there is contradictory research in your area of research, verify to include an element of debate and present both sides of the argument. A good review paper can resolve the conflict between contradictory works.

The written review paper should achieve your objectives. Hence, the review paper should leave the reader with a clear understanding of the following questions:

What they can understand from the review paper?

What still remains a requirement of further investigation in the research area?

This can include making suggestions for future scope on the theme as part of your conclusion.

The authors can submit a brief acknowledgment of any financial, instrumentation, and academic support received about research work.

Citing references at appropriate places in the article is necessary and important to avoid plagiarism. Each journal has its referencing style. Therefore, the references need to be listed at the end of the manuscript. The number of references in the review paper is usually higher than in a research paper .

I hope this article will give you a clear idea of how to write a review paper. Please give your valuable comments.

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Nice thank you for your clarification

How to write a review paper on the relevant of science to education

This blog is very informative. Is it true that an increase in the number of citations improves the quality and impact of a review paper?

Thanks for your ideas. Really helpful

it was very well information

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How to Write a Research Paper | A Beginner's Guide

A research paper is a piece of academic writing that provides analysis, interpretation, and argument based on in-depth independent research.

Research papers are similar to academic essays , but they are usually longer and more detailed assignments, designed to assess not only your writing skills but also your skills in scholarly research. Writing a research paper requires you to demonstrate a strong knowledge of your topic, engage with a variety of sources, and make an original contribution to the debate.

This step-by-step guide takes you through the entire writing process, from understanding your assignment to proofreading your final draft.

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Table of contents

Understand the assignment, choose a research paper topic, conduct preliminary research, develop a thesis statement, create a research paper outline, write a first draft of the research paper, write the introduction, write a compelling body of text, write the conclusion, the second draft, the revision process, research paper checklist, free lecture slides.

Completing a research paper successfully means accomplishing the specific tasks set out for you. Before you start, make sure you thoroughly understanding the assignment task sheet:

  • Read it carefully, looking for anything confusing you might need to clarify with your professor.
  • Identify the assignment goal, deadline, length specifications, formatting, and submission method.
  • Make a bulleted list of the key points, then go back and cross completed items off as you’re writing.

Carefully consider your timeframe and word limit: be realistic, and plan enough time to research, write, and edit.

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There are many ways to generate an idea for a research paper, from brainstorming with pen and paper to talking it through with a fellow student or professor.

You can try free writing, which involves taking a broad topic and writing continuously for two or three minutes to identify absolutely anything relevant that could be interesting.

You can also gain inspiration from other research. The discussion or recommendations sections of research papers often include ideas for other specific topics that require further examination.

Once you have a broad subject area, narrow it down to choose a topic that interests you, m eets the criteria of your assignment, and i s possible to research. Aim for ideas that are both original and specific:

  • A paper following the chronology of World War II would not be original or specific enough.
  • A paper on the experience of Danish citizens living close to the German border during World War II would be specific and could be original enough.

Note any discussions that seem important to the topic, and try to find an issue that you can focus your paper around. Use a variety of sources , including journals, books, and reliable websites, to ensure you do not miss anything glaring.

Do not only verify the ideas you have in mind, but look for sources that contradict your point of view.

  • Is there anything people seem to overlook in the sources you research?
  • Are there any heated debates you can address?
  • Do you have a unique take on your topic?
  • Have there been some recent developments that build on the extant research?

In this stage, you might find it helpful to formulate some research questions to help guide you. To write research questions, try to finish the following sentence: “I want to know how/what/why…”

A thesis statement is a statement of your central argument — it establishes the purpose and position of your paper. If you started with a research question, the thesis statement should answer it. It should also show what evidence and reasoning you’ll use to support that answer.

The thesis statement should be concise, contentious, and coherent. That means it should briefly summarize your argument in a sentence or two, make a claim that requires further evidence or analysis, and make a coherent point that relates to every part of the paper.

You will probably revise and refine the thesis statement as you do more research, but it can serve as a guide throughout the writing process. Every paragraph should aim to support and develop this central claim.

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A research paper outline is essentially a list of the key topics, arguments, and evidence you want to include, divided into sections with headings so that you know roughly what the paper will look like before you start writing.

A structure outline can help make the writing process much more efficient, so it’s worth dedicating some time to create one.

Your first draft won’t be perfect — you can polish later on. Your priorities at this stage are as follows:

  • Maintaining forward momentum — write now, perfect later.
  • Paying attention to clear organization and logical ordering of paragraphs and sentences, which will help when you come to the second draft.
  • Expressing your ideas as clearly as possible, so you know what you were trying to say when you come back to the text.

You do not need to start by writing the introduction. Begin where it feels most natural for you — some prefer to finish the most difficult sections first, while others choose to start with the easiest part. If you created an outline, use it as a map while you work.

Do not delete large sections of text. If you begin to dislike something you have written or find it doesn’t quite fit, move it to a different document, but don’t lose it completely — you never know if it might come in useful later.

Paragraph structure

Paragraphs are the basic building blocks of research papers. Each one should focus on a single claim or idea that helps to establish the overall argument or purpose of the paper.

Example paragraph

George Orwell’s 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language” has had an enduring impact on thought about the relationship between politics and language. This impact is particularly obvious in light of the various critical review articles that have recently referenced the essay. For example, consider Mark Falcoff’s 2009 article in The National Review Online, “The Perversion of Language; or, Orwell Revisited,” in which he analyzes several common words (“activist,” “civil-rights leader,” “diversity,” and more). Falcoff’s close analysis of the ambiguity built into political language intentionally mirrors Orwell’s own point-by-point analysis of the political language of his day. Even 63 years after its publication, Orwell’s essay is emulated by contemporary thinkers.

Citing sources

It’s also important to keep track of citations at this stage to avoid accidental plagiarism . Each time you use a source, make sure to take note of where the information came from.

You can use our free citation generators to automatically create citations and save your reference list as you go.

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The research paper introduction should address three questions: What, why, and how? After finishing the introduction, the reader should know what the paper is about, why it is worth reading, and how you’ll build your arguments.

What? Be specific about the topic of the paper, introduce the background, and define key terms or concepts.

Why? This is the most important, but also the most difficult, part of the introduction. Try to provide brief answers to the following questions: What new material or insight are you offering? What important issues does your essay help define or answer?

How? To let the reader know what to expect from the rest of the paper, the introduction should include a “map” of what will be discussed, briefly presenting the key elements of the paper in chronological order.

The major struggle faced by most writers is how to organize the information presented in the paper, which is one reason an outline is so useful. However, remember that the outline is only a guide and, when writing, you can be flexible with the order in which the information and arguments are presented.

One way to stay on track is to use your thesis statement and topic sentences . Check:

  • topic sentences against the thesis statement;
  • topic sentences against each other, for similarities and logical ordering;
  • and each sentence against the topic sentence of that paragraph.

Be aware of paragraphs that seem to cover the same things. If two paragraphs discuss something similar, they must approach that topic in different ways. Aim to create smooth transitions between sentences, paragraphs, and sections.

The research paper conclusion is designed to help your reader out of the paper’s argument, giving them a sense of finality.

Trace the course of the paper, emphasizing how it all comes together to prove your thesis statement. Give the paper a sense of finality by making sure the reader understands how you’ve settled the issues raised in the introduction.

You might also discuss the more general consequences of the argument, outline what the paper offers to future students of the topic, and suggest any questions the paper’s argument raises but cannot or does not try to answer.

You should not :

  • Offer new arguments or essential information
  • Take up any more space than necessary
  • Begin with stock phrases that signal you are ending the paper (e.g. “In conclusion”)

There are four main considerations when it comes to the second draft.

  • Check how your vision of the paper lines up with the first draft and, more importantly, that your paper still answers the assignment.
  • Identify any assumptions that might require (more substantial) justification, keeping your reader’s perspective foremost in mind. Remove these points if you cannot substantiate them further.
  • Be open to rearranging your ideas. Check whether any sections feel out of place and whether your ideas could be better organized.
  • If you find that old ideas do not fit as well as you anticipated, you should cut them out or condense them. You might also find that new and well-suited ideas occurred to you during the writing of the first draft — now is the time to make them part of the paper.

The goal during the revision and proofreading process is to ensure you have completed all the necessary tasks and that the paper is as well-articulated as possible. You can speed up the proofreading process by using the AI proofreader .

Global concerns

  • Confirm that your paper completes every task specified in your assignment sheet.
  • Check for logical organization and flow of paragraphs.
  • Check paragraphs against the introduction and thesis statement.

Fine-grained details

Check the content of each paragraph, making sure that:

  • each sentence helps support the topic sentence.
  • no unnecessary or irrelevant information is present.
  • all technical terms your audience might not know are identified.

Next, think about sentence structure , grammatical errors, and formatting . Check that you have correctly used transition words and phrases to show the connections between your ideas. Look for typos, cut unnecessary words, and check for consistency in aspects such as heading formatting and spellings .

Finally, you need to make sure your paper is correctly formatted according to the rules of the citation style you are using. For example, you might need to include an MLA heading  or create an APA title page .

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Checklist: Research paper

I have followed all instructions in the assignment sheet.

My introduction presents my topic in an engaging way and provides necessary background information.

My introduction presents a clear, focused research problem and/or thesis statement .

My paper is logically organized using paragraphs and (if relevant) section headings .

Each paragraph is clearly focused on one central idea, expressed in a clear topic sentence .

Each paragraph is relevant to my research problem or thesis statement.

I have used appropriate transitions  to clarify the connections between sections, paragraphs, and sentences.

My conclusion provides a concise answer to the research question or emphasizes how the thesis has been supported.

My conclusion shows how my research has contributed to knowledge or understanding of my topic.

My conclusion does not present any new points or information essential to my argument.

I have provided an in-text citation every time I refer to ideas or information from a source.

I have included a reference list at the end of my paper, consistently formatted according to a specific citation style .

I have thoroughly revised my paper and addressed any feedback from my professor or supervisor.

I have followed all formatting guidelines (page numbers, headers, spacing, etc.).

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How To Write A Research Paper

Step-By-Step Tutorial With Examples + FREE Template

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) | Expert Reviewer: Dr Eunice Rautenbach | March 2024

For many students, crafting a strong research paper from scratch can feel like a daunting task – and rightly so! In this post, we’ll unpack what a research paper is, what it needs to do , and how to write one – in three easy steps. 🙂 

Overview: Writing A Research Paper

What (exactly) is a research paper.

  • How to write a research paper
  • Stage 1 : Topic & literature search
  • Stage 2 : Structure & outline
  • Stage 3 : Iterative writing
  • Key takeaways

Let’s start by asking the most important question, “ What is a research paper? ”.

Simply put, a research paper is a scholarly written work where the writer (that’s you!) answers a specific question (this is called a research question ) through evidence-based arguments . Evidence-based is the keyword here. In other words, a research paper is different from an essay or other writing assignments that draw from the writer’s personal opinions or experiences. With a research paper, it’s all about building your arguments based on evidence (we’ll talk more about that evidence a little later).

Now, it’s worth noting that there are many different types of research papers , including analytical papers (the type I just described), argumentative papers, and interpretative papers. Here, we’ll focus on analytical papers , as these are some of the most common – but if you’re keen to learn about other types of research papers, be sure to check out the rest of the blog .

With that basic foundation laid, let’s get down to business and look at how to write a research paper .

Research Paper Template

Overview: The 3-Stage Process

While there are, of course, many potential approaches you can take to write a research paper, there are typically three stages to the writing process. So, in this tutorial, we’ll present a straightforward three-step process that we use when working with students at Grad Coach.

These three steps are:

  • Finding a research topic and reviewing the existing literature
  • Developing a provisional structure and outline for your paper, and
  • Writing up your initial draft and then refining it iteratively

Let’s dig into each of these.

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writing review of research paper

Step 1: Find a topic and review the literature

As we mentioned earlier, in a research paper, you, as the researcher, will try to answer a question . More specifically, that’s called a research question , and it sets the direction of your entire paper. What’s important to understand though is that you’ll need to answer that research question with the help of high-quality sources – for example, journal articles, government reports, case studies, and so on. We’ll circle back to this in a minute.

The first stage of the research process is deciding on what your research question will be and then reviewing the existing literature (in other words, past studies and papers) to see what they say about that specific research question. In some cases, your professor may provide you with a predetermined research question (or set of questions). However, in many cases, you’ll need to find your own research question within a certain topic area.

Finding a strong research question hinges on identifying a meaningful research gap – in other words, an area that’s lacking in existing research. There’s a lot to unpack here, so if you wanna learn more, check out the plain-language explainer video below.

Once you’ve figured out which question (or questions) you’ll attempt to answer in your research paper, you’ll need to do a deep dive into the existing literature – this is called a “ literature search ”. Again, there are many ways to go about this, but your most likely starting point will be Google Scholar .

If you’re new to Google Scholar, think of it as Google for the academic world. You can start by simply entering a few different keywords that are relevant to your research question and it will then present a host of articles for you to review. What you want to pay close attention to here is the number of citations for each paper – the more citations a paper has, the more credible it is (generally speaking – there are some exceptions, of course).

how to use google scholar

Ideally, what you’re looking for are well-cited papers that are highly relevant to your topic. That said, keep in mind that citations are a cumulative metric , so older papers will often have more citations than newer papers – just because they’ve been around for longer. So, don’t fixate on this metric in isolation – relevance and recency are also very important.

Beyond Google Scholar, you’ll also definitely want to check out academic databases and aggregators such as Science Direct, PubMed, JStor and so on. These will often overlap with the results that you find in Google Scholar, but they can also reveal some hidden gems – so, be sure to check them out.

Once you’ve worked your way through all the literature, you’ll want to catalogue all this information in some sort of spreadsheet so that you can easily recall who said what, when and within what context. If you’d like, we’ve got a free literature spreadsheet that helps you do exactly that.

Don’t fixate on an article’s citation count in isolation - relevance (to your research question) and recency are also very important.

Step 2: Develop a structure and outline

With your research question pinned down and your literature digested and catalogued, it’s time to move on to planning your actual research paper .

It might sound obvious, but it’s really important to have some sort of rough outline in place before you start writing your paper. So often, we see students eagerly rushing into the writing phase, only to land up with a disjointed research paper that rambles on in multiple

Now, the secret here is to not get caught up in the fine details . Realistically, all you need at this stage is a bullet-point list that describes (in broad strokes) what you’ll discuss and in what order. It’s also useful to remember that you’re not glued to this outline – in all likelihood, you’ll chop and change some sections once you start writing, and that’s perfectly okay. What’s important is that you have some sort of roadmap in place from the start.

You need to have a rough outline in place before you start writing your paper - or you’ll end up with a disjointed research paper that rambles on.

At this stage you might be wondering, “ But how should I structure my research paper? ”. Well, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution here, but in general, a research paper will consist of a few relatively standardised components:

  • Introduction
  • Literature review
  • Methodology

Let’s take a look at each of these.

First up is the introduction section . As the name suggests, the purpose of the introduction is to set the scene for your research paper. There are usually (at least) four ingredients that go into this section – these are the background to the topic, the research problem and resultant research question , and the justification or rationale. If you’re interested, the video below unpacks the introduction section in more detail. 

The next section of your research paper will typically be your literature review . Remember all that literature you worked through earlier? Well, this is where you’ll present your interpretation of all that content . You’ll do this by writing about recent trends, developments, and arguments within the literature – but more specifically, those that are relevant to your research question . The literature review can oftentimes seem a little daunting, even to seasoned researchers, so be sure to check out our extensive collection of literature review content here .

With the introduction and lit review out of the way, the next section of your paper is the research methodology . In a nutshell, the methodology section should describe to your reader what you did (beyond just reviewing the existing literature) to answer your research question. For example, what data did you collect, how did you collect that data, how did you analyse that data and so on? For each choice, you’ll also need to justify why you chose to do it that way, and what the strengths and weaknesses of your approach were.

Now, it’s worth mentioning that for some research papers, this aspect of the project may be a lot simpler . For example, you may only need to draw on secondary sources (in other words, existing data sets). In some cases, you may just be asked to draw your conclusions from the literature search itself (in other words, there may be no data analysis at all). But, if you are required to collect and analyse data, you’ll need to pay a lot of attention to the methodology section. The video below provides an example of what the methodology section might look like.

By this stage of your paper, you will have explained what your research question is, what the existing literature has to say about that question, and how you analysed additional data to try to answer your question. So, the natural next step is to present your analysis of that data . This section is usually called the “results” or “analysis” section and this is where you’ll showcase your findings.

Depending on your school’s requirements, you may need to present and interpret the data in one section – or you might split the presentation and the interpretation into two sections. In the latter case, your “results” section will just describe the data, and the “discussion” is where you’ll interpret that data and explicitly link your analysis back to your research question. If you’re not sure which approach to take, check in with your professor or take a look at past papers to see what the norms are for your programme.

Alright – once you’ve presented and discussed your results, it’s time to wrap it up . This usually takes the form of the “ conclusion ” section. In the conclusion, you’ll need to highlight the key takeaways from your study and close the loop by explicitly answering your research question. Again, the exact requirements here will vary depending on your programme (and you may not even need a conclusion section at all) – so be sure to check with your professor if you’re unsure.

Step 3: Write and refine

Finally, it’s time to get writing. All too often though, students hit a brick wall right about here… So, how do you avoid this happening to you?

Well, there’s a lot to be said when it comes to writing a research paper (or any sort of academic piece), but we’ll share three practical tips to help you get started.

First and foremost , it’s essential to approach your writing as an iterative process. In other words, you need to start with a really messy first draft and then polish it over multiple rounds of editing. Don’t waste your time trying to write a perfect research paper in one go. Instead, take the pressure off yourself by adopting an iterative approach.

Secondly , it’s important to always lean towards critical writing , rather than descriptive writing. What does this mean? Well, at the simplest level, descriptive writing focuses on the “ what ”, while critical writing digs into the “ so what ” – in other words, the implications. If you’re not familiar with these two types of writing, don’t worry! You can find a plain-language explanation here.

Last but not least, you’ll need to get your referencing right. Specifically, you’ll need to provide credible, correctly formatted citations for the statements you make. We see students making referencing mistakes all the time and it costs them dearly. The good news is that you can easily avoid this by using a simple reference manager . If you don’t have one, check out our video about Mendeley, an easy (and free) reference management tool that you can start using today.

Recap: Key Takeaways

We’ve covered a lot of ground here. To recap, the three steps to writing a high-quality research paper are:

  • To choose a research question and review the literature
  • To plan your paper structure and draft an outline
  • To take an iterative approach to writing, focusing on critical writing and strong referencing

Remember, this is just a b ig-picture overview of the research paper development process and there’s a lot more nuance to unpack. So, be sure to grab a copy of our free research paper template to learn more about how to write a research paper.

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Literature Review: Conducting & Writing

  • Sample Literature Reviews
  • Steps for Conducting a Lit Review
  • Finding "The Literature"
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  • Research Process

Writing a good review article

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Table of Contents

As a young researcher, you might wonder how to start writing your first review article, and the extent of the information that it should contain. A review article is a comprehensive summary of the current understanding of a specific research topic and is based on previously published research. Unlike research papers, it does not contain new results, but can propose new inferences based on the combined findings of previous research.

Types of review articles

Review articles are typically of three types: literature reviews, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses.

A literature review is a general survey of the research topic and aims to provide a reliable and unbiased account of the current understanding of the topic.

A systematic review , in contrast, is more specific and attempts to address a highly focused research question. Its presentation is more detailed, with information on the search strategy used, the eligibility criteria for inclusion of studies, the methods utilized to review the collected information, and more.

A meta-analysis is similar to a systematic review in that both are systematically conducted with a properly defined research question. However, unlike the latter, a meta-analysis compares and evaluates a defined number of similar studies. It is quantitative in nature and can help assess contrasting study findings.

Tips for writing a good review article

Here are a few practices that can make the time-consuming process of writing a review article easier:

  • Define your question: Take your time to identify the research question and carefully articulate the topic of your review paper. A good review should also add something new to the field in terms of a hypothesis, inference, or conclusion. A carefully defined scientific question will give you more clarity in determining the novelty of your inferences.
  • Identify credible sources: Identify relevant as well as credible studies that you can base your review on, with the help of multiple databases or search engines. It is also a good idea to conduct another search once you have finished your article to avoid missing relevant studies published during the course of your writing.
  • Take notes: A literature search involves extensive reading, which can make it difficult to recall relevant information subsequently. Therefore, make notes while conducting the literature search and note down the source references. This will ensure that you have sufficient information to start with when you finally get to writing.
  • Describe the title, abstract, and introduction: A good starting point to begin structuring your review is by drafting the title, abstract, and introduction. Explicitly writing down what your review aims to address in the field will help shape the rest of your article.
  • Be unbiased and critical: Evaluate every piece of evidence in a critical but unbiased manner. This will help you present a proper assessment and a critical discussion in your article.
  • Include a good summary: End by stating the take-home message and identify the limitations of existing studies that need to be addressed through future studies.
  • Ask for feedback: Ask a colleague to provide feedback on both the content and the language or tone of your article before you submit it.
  • Check your journal’s guidelines: Some journals only publish reviews, while some only publish research articles. Further, all journals clearly indicate their aims and scope. Therefore, make sure to check the appropriateness of a journal before submitting your article.

Writing review articles, especially systematic reviews or meta-analyses, can seem like a daunting task. However, Elsevier Author Services can guide you by providing useful tips on how to write an impressive review article that stands out and gets published!

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How to write a good scientific review article

Affiliation.

  • 1 The FEBS Journal Editorial Office, Cambridge, UK.
  • PMID: 35792782
  • DOI: 10.1111/febs.16565

Literature reviews are valuable resources for the scientific community. With research accelerating at an unprecedented speed in recent years and more and more original papers being published, review articles have become increasingly important as a means to keep up to date with developments in a particular area of research. A good review article provides readers with an in-depth understanding of a field and highlights key gaps and challenges to address with future research. Writing a review article also helps to expand the writer's knowledge of their specialist area and to develop their analytical and communication skills, amongst other benefits. Thus, the importance of building review-writing into a scientific career cannot be overstated. In this instalment of The FEBS Journal's Words of Advice series, I provide detailed guidance on planning and writing an informative and engaging literature review.

© 2022 Federation of European Biochemical Societies.

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Writing a Scientific Review Article: Comprehensive Insights for Beginners

Ayodeji amobonye.

1 Department of Biotechnology and Food Science, Faculty of Applied Sciences, Durban University of Technology, P.O. Box 1334, KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 4000, South Africa

2 Writing Centre, Durban University of Technology, P.O. Box 1334 KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 4000, South Africa

Japareng Lalung

3 School of Industrial Technology, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Gelugor 11800, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

Santhosh Pillai

Associated data.

The data and materials that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

Review articles present comprehensive overview of relevant literature on specific themes and synthesise the studies related to these themes, with the aim of strengthening the foundation of knowledge and facilitating theory development. The significance of review articles in science is immeasurable as both students and researchers rely on these articles as the starting point for their research. Interestingly, many postgraduate students are expected to write review articles for journal publications as a way of demonstrating their ability to contribute to new knowledge in their respective fields. However, there is no comprehensive instructional framework to guide them on how to analyse and synthesise the literature in their niches into publishable review articles. The dearth of ample guidance or explicit training results in students having to learn all by themselves, usually by trial and error, which often leads to high rejection rates from publishing houses. Therefore, this article seeks to identify these challenges from a beginner's perspective and strives to plug the identified gaps and discrepancies. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to serve as a systematic guide for emerging scientists and to summarise the most important information on how to write and structure a publishable review article.

1. Introduction

Early scientists, spanning from the Ancient Egyptian civilization to the Scientific Revolution of the 16 th /17 th century, based their research on intuitions, personal observations, and personal insights. Thus, less time was spent on background reading as there was not much literature to refer to. This is well illustrated in the case of Sir Isaac Newton's apple tree and the theory of gravity, as well as Gregor Mendel's pea plants and the theory of inheritance. However, with the astronomical expansion in scientific knowledge and the emergence of the information age in the last century, new ideas are now being built on previously published works, thus the periodic need to appraise the huge amount of already published literature [ 1 ]. According to Birkle et al. [ 2 ], the Web of Science—an authoritative database of research publications and citations—covered more than 80 million scholarly materials. Hence, a critical review of prior and relevant literature is indispensable for any research endeavour as it provides the necessary framework needed for synthesising new knowledge and for highlighting new insights and perspectives [ 3 ].

Review papers are generally considered secondary research publications that sum up already existing works on a particular research topic or question and relate them to the current status of the topic. This makes review articles distinctly different from scientific research papers. While the primary aim of the latter is to develop new arguments by reporting original research, the former is focused on summarising and synthesising previous ideas, studies, and arguments, without adding new experimental contributions. Review articles basically describe the content and quality of knowledge that are currently available, with a special focus on the significance of the previous works. To this end, a review article cannot simply reiterate a subject matter, but it must contribute to the field of knowledge by synthesising available materials and offering a scholarly critique of theory [ 4 ]. Typically, these articles critically analyse both quantitative and qualitative studies by scrutinising experimental results, the discussion of the experimental data, and in some instances, previous review articles to propose new working theories. Thus, a review article is more than a mere exhaustive compilation of all that has been published on a topic; it must be a balanced, informative, perspective, and unbiased compendium of previous studies which may also include contrasting findings, inconsistencies, and conventional and current views on the subject [ 5 ].

Hence, the essence of a review article is measured by what is achieved, what is discovered, and how information is communicated to the reader [ 6 ]. According to Steward [ 7 ], a good literature review should be analytical, critical, comprehensive, selective, relevant, synthetic, and fully referenced. On the other hand, a review article is considered to be inadequate if it is lacking in focus or outcome, overgeneralised, opinionated, unbalanced, and uncritical [ 7 ]. Most review papers fail to meet these standards and thus can be viewed as mere summaries of previous works in a particular field of study. In one of the few studies that assessed the quality of review articles, none of the 50 papers that were analysed met the predefined criteria for a good review [ 8 ]. However, beginners must also realise that there is no bad writing in the true sense; there is only writing in evolution and under refinement. Literally, every piece of writing can be improved upon, right from the first draft until the final published manuscript. Hence, a paper can only be referred to as bad and unfixable when the author is not open to corrections or when the writer gives up on it.

According to Peat et al. [ 9 ], “everything is easy when you know how,” a maxim which applies to scientific writing in general and review writing in particular. In this regard, the authors emphasized that the writer should be open to learning and should also follow established rules instead of following a blind trial-and-error approach. In contrast to the popular belief that review articles should only be written by experienced scientists and researchers, recent trends have shown that many early-career scientists, especially postgraduate students, are currently expected to write review articles during the course of their studies. However, these scholars have little or no access to formal training on how to analyse and synthesise the research literature in their respective fields [ 10 ]. Consequently, students seeking guidance on how to write or improve their literature reviews are less likely to find published works on the subject, particularly in the science fields. Although various publications have dealt with the challenges of searching for literature, or writing literature reviews for dissertation/thesis purposes, there is little or no information on how to write a comprehensive review article for publication. In addition to the paucity of published information to guide the potential author, the lack of understanding of what constitutes a review paper compounds their challenges. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to serve as a guide for writing review papers for journal publishing. This work draws on the experience of the authors to assist early-career scientists/researchers in the “hard skill” of authoring review articles. Even though there is no single path to writing scientifically, or to writing reviews in particular, this paper attempts to simplify the process by looking at this subject from a beginner's perspective. Hence, this paper highlights the differences between the types of review articles in the sciences while also explaining the needs and purpose of writing review articles. Furthermore, it presents details on how to search for the literature as well as how to structure the manuscript to produce logical and coherent outputs. It is hoped that this work will ease prospective scientific writers into the challenging but rewarding art of writing review articles.

2. Benefits of Review Articles to the Author

Analysing literature gives an overview of the “WHs”: WHat has been reported in a particular field or topic, WHo the key writers are, WHat are the prevailing theories and hypotheses, WHat questions are being asked (and answered), and WHat methods and methodologies are appropriate and useful [ 11 ]. For new or aspiring researchers in a particular field, it can be quite challenging to get a comprehensive overview of their respective fields, especially the historical trends and what has been studied previously. As such, the importance of review articles to knowledge appraisal and contribution cannot be overemphasised, which is reflected in the constant demand for such articles in the research community. However, it is also important for the author, especially the first-time author, to recognise the importance of his/her investing time and effort into writing a quality review article.

Generally, literature reviews are undertaken for many reasons, mainly for publication and for dissertation purposes. The major purpose of literature reviews is to provide direction and information for the improvement of scientific knowledge. They also form a significant component in the research process and in academic assessment [ 12 ]. There may be, however, a thin line between a dissertation literature review and a published review article, given that with some modifications, a literature review can be transformed into a legitimate and publishable scholarly document. According to Gülpınar and Güçlü [ 6 ], the basic motivation for writing a review article is to make a comprehensive synthesis of the most appropriate literature on a specific research inquiry or topic. Thus, conducting a literature review assists in demonstrating the author's knowledge about a particular field of study, which may include but not be limited to its history, theories, key variables, vocabulary, phenomena, and methodologies [ 10 ]. Furthermore, publishing reviews is beneficial as it permits the researchers to examine different questions and, as a result, enhances the depth and diversity of their scientific reasoning [ 1 ]. In addition, writing review articles allows researchers to share insights with the scientific community while identifying knowledge gaps to be addressed in future research. The review writing process can also be a useful tool in training early-career scientists in leadership, coordination, project management, and other important soft skills necessary for success in the research world [ 13 ]. Another important reason for authoring reviews is that such publications have been observed to be remarkably influential, extending the reach of an author in multiple folds of what can be achieved by primary research papers [ 1 ]. The trend in science is for authors to receive more citations from their review articles than from their original research articles. According to Miranda and Garcia-Carpintero [ 14 ], review articles are, on average, three times more frequently cited than original research articles; they also asserted that a 20% increase in review authorship could result in a 40–80% increase in citations of the author. As a result, writing reviews can significantly impact a researcher's citation output and serve as a valuable channel to reach a wider scientific audience. In addition, the references cited in a review article also provide the reader with an opportunity to dig deeper into the topic of interest. Thus, review articles can serve as a valuable repository for consultation, increasing the visibility of the authors and resulting in more citations.

3. Types of Review Articles

The first step in writing a good literature review is to decide on the particular type of review to be written; hence, it is important to distinguish and understand the various types of review articles. Although scientific review articles have been classified according to various schemes, however, they are broadly categorised into narrative reviews, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses [ 15 ]. It was observed that more authors—as well as publishers—were leaning towards systematic reviews and meta-analysis while downplaying narrative reviews; however, the three serve different aims and should all be considered equally important in science [ 1 ]. Bibliometric reviews and patent reviews, which are closely related to meta-analysis, have also gained significant attention recently. However, from another angle, a review could also be of two types. In the first class, authors could deal with a widely studied topic where there is already an accumulated body of knowledge that requires analysis and synthesis [ 3 ]. At the other end of the spectrum, the authors may have to address an emerging issue that would benefit from exposure to potential theoretical foundations; hence, their contribution would arise from the fresh theoretical foundations proposed in developing a conceptual model [ 3 ].

3.1. Narrative Reviews

Narrative reviewers are mainly focused on providing clarification and critical analysis on a particular topic or body of literature through interpretative synthesis, creativity, and expert judgement. According to Green et al. [ 16 ], a narrative review can be in the form of editorials, commentaries, and narrative overviews. However, editorials and commentaries are usually expert opinions; hence, a beginner is more likely to write a narrative overview, which is more general and is also referred to as an unsystematic narrative review. Similarly, the literature review section of most dissertations and empirical papers is typically narrative in nature. Typically, narrative reviews combine results from studies that may have different methodologies to address different questions or to formulate a broad theoretical formulation [ 1 ]. They are largely integrative as strong focus is placed on the assimilation and synthesis of various aspects in the review, which may involve comparing and contrasting research findings or deriving structured implications [ 17 ]. In addition, they are also qualitative studies because they do not follow strict selection processes; hence, choosing publications is relatively more subjective and unsystematic [ 18 ]. However, despite their popularity, there are concerns about their inherent subjectivity. In many instances, when the supporting data for narrative reviews are examined more closely, the evaluations provided by the author(s) become quite questionable [ 19 ]. Nevertheless, if the goal of the author is to formulate a new theory that connects diverse strands of research, a narrative method is most appropriate.

3.2. Systematic Reviews

In contrast to narrative reviews, which are generally descriptive, systematic reviews employ a systematic approach to summarise evidence on research questions. Hence, systematic reviews make use of precise and rigorous criteria to identify, evaluate, and subsequently synthesise all relevant literature on a particular topic [ 12 , 20 ]. As a result, systematic reviews are more likely to inspire research ideas by identifying knowledge gaps or inconsistencies, thus helping the researcher to clearly define the research hypotheses or questions [ 21 ]. Furthermore, systematic reviews may serve as independent research projects in their own right, as they follow a defined methodology to search and combine reliable results to synthesise a new database that can be used for a variety of purposes [ 22 ]. Typically, the peculiarities of the individual reviewer, different search engines, and information databases used all ensure that no two searches will yield the same systematic results even if the searches are conducted simultaneously and under identical criteria [ 11 ]. Hence, attempts are made at standardising the exercise via specific methods that would limit bias and chance effects, prevent duplications, and provide more accurate results upon which conclusions and decisions can be made.

The most established of these methods is the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines which objectively defined statements, guidelines, reporting checklists, and flowcharts for undertaking systematic reviews as well as meta-analysis [ 23 ]. Though mainly designed for research in medical sciences, the PRISMA approach has gained wide acceptance in other fields of science and is based on eight fundamental propositions. These include the explicit definition of the review question, an unambiguous outline of the study protocol, an objective and exhaustive systematic review of reputable literature, and an unambiguous identification of included literature based on defined selection criteria [ 24 ]. Other considerations include an unbiased appraisal of the quality of the selected studies (literature), organic synthesis of the evidence of the study, preparation of the manuscript based on the reporting guidelines, and periodic update of the review as new data emerge [ 24 ]. Other methods such as PRISMA-P (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic review and Meta-Analysis Protocols), MOOSE (Meta-analysis Of Observational Studies in Epidemiology), and ROSES (Reporting Standards for Systematic Evidence Syntheses) have since been developed for systematic reviews (and meta-analysis), with most of them being derived from PRISMA.

Consequently, systematic reviews—unlike narrative reviews—must contain a methodology section which in addition to all that was highlighted above must fully describe the precise criteria used in formulating the research question and setting the inclusion or exclusion criteria used in selecting/accessing the literature. Similarly, the criteria for evaluating the quality of the literature included in the review as well as for analysing, synthesising, and disseminating the findings must be fully described in the methodology section.

3.3. Meta-Analysis

Meta-analyses are considered as more specialised forms of systematic reviews. Generally, they combine the results of many studies that use similar or closely related methods to address the same question or share a common quantitative evaluation method [ 25 ]. However, meta-analyses are also a step higher than other systematic reviews as they are focused on numerical data and involve the use of statistics in evaluating different studies and synthesising new knowledge. The major advantage of this type of review is the increased statistical power leading to more reliable results for inferring modest associations and a more comprehensive understanding of the true impact of a research study [ 26 ]. Unlike in traditional systematic reviews, research topics covered in meta-analyses must be mature enough to allow the inclusion of sufficient homogeneous empirical research in terms of subjects, interventions, and outcomes [ 27 , 28 ].

Being an advanced form of systematic review, meta-analyses must also have a distinct methodology section; hence, the standard procedures involved in the traditional systematic review (especially PRISMA) also apply in meta-analyses [ 23 ]. In addition to the common steps in formulating systematic reviews, meta-analyses are required to describe how nested and missing data are handled, the effect observed in each study, the confidence interval associated with each synthesised effect, and any potential for bias presented within the sample(s) [ 17 ]. According to Paul and Barari [ 28 ], a meta-analysis must also detail the final sample, the meta-analytic model, and the overall analysis, moderator analysis, and software employed. While the overall analysis involves the statistical characterization of the relationships between variables in the meta-analytic framework and their significance, the moderator analysis defines the different variables that may affect variations in the original studies [ 28 , 29 ]. It must also be noted that the accuracy and reliability of meta-analyses have both been significantly enhanced by the incorporation of statistical approaches such as Bayesian analysis [ 30 ], network analysis [ 31 ], and more recently, machine learning [ 32 ].

3.4. Bibliometric Review

A bibliometric review, commonly referred to as bibliometric analysis, is a systematic evaluation of published works within a specific field or discipline [ 33 ]. This bibliometric methodology involves the use of quantitative methods to analyse bibliometric data such as the characteristics and numbers of publications, units of citations, authorship, co-authorship, and journal impact factors [ 34 ]. Academics use bibliometric analysis with different objectives in mind, which includes uncovering emerging trends in article and journal performance, elaborating collaboration patterns and research constituents, evaluating the impact and influence of particular authors, publications, or research groups, and highlighting the intellectual framework of a certain field [ 35 ]. It is also used to inform policy and decision-making. Similarly to meta-analysis, bibliometric reviews rely upon quantitative techniques, thus avoiding the interpretation bias that could arise from the qualitative techniques of other types of reviews [ 36 ]. However, while bibliometric analysis synthesises the bibliometric and intellectual structure of a field by examining the social and structural linkages between various research parts, meta-analysis focuses on summarising empirical evidence by probing the direction and strength of effects and relationships among variables, especially in open research questions [ 37 , 38 ]. However, similarly to systematic review and meta-analysis, a bibliometric review also requires a well-detailed methodology section. The amount of data to be analysed in bibliometric analysis is quite massive, running to hundreds and tens of thousands in some cases. Although the data are objective in nature (e.g., number of citations and publications and occurrences of keywords and topics), the interpretation is usually carried out through both objective (e.g., performance analysis) and subjective (e.g., thematic analysis) evaluations [ 35 ]. However, the invention and availability of bibliometric software such as BibExcel, Gephi, Leximancer, and VOSviewer and scientific databases such as Dimensions, Web of Science, and Scopus have made this type of analysis more feasible.

3.5. Patent Review

Patent reviews provide a comprehensive analysis and critique of a specific patent or a group of related patents, thus presenting a concise understanding of the technology or innovation that is covered by the patent [ 39 ]. This type of article is useful for researchers as it also enhances their understanding of the legal, technical, and commercial aspects of an intellectual property/innovation; in addition, it is also important for stakeholders outside the research community including IP (intellectual property) specialists, legal professionals, and technology-transfer officers [ 40 ]. Typically, patent reviews encompass the scope, background, claims, legal implications, technical specifications, and potential commercial applications of the patent(s). The article may also include a discussion of the patent's strengths and weaknesses, as well as its potential impact on the industry or field in which it operates. Most times, reviews are time specified, they may be regionalised, and the data are usually retrieved via patent searches on databases such as that of the European Patent Office ( https://www.epo.org/searching.html ), United States Patent and Trademark Office ( https://patft.uspto.gov/ ), the World Intellectual Property Organization's PATENTSCOPE ( https://patentscope.wipo.int/search/en/structuredSearch.jsf ), Google Patent ( https://www.google.com/?tbm=pts ), and China National Intellectual Property Administration ( https://pss-system.cponline.cnipa.gov.cn/conventionalSearch ). According to Cerimi et al. [ 41 ], the retrieved data and analysed may include the patent number, patent status, filing date, application date, grant dates, inventor, assignee, and pending applications. While data analysis is usually carried out by general data software such as Microsoft Excel, an intelligence software solely dedicated to patent research and analysis, Orbit Intelligence has been found to be more efficient [ 39 ]. It is also mandatory to include a methodology section in a patent review, and this should be explicit, thorough, and precise to allow a clear understanding of how the analysis was carried out and how the conclusions were arrived at.

4. Searching Literature

One of the most challenging tasks in writing a review article on a subject is the search for relevant literature to populate the manuscript as the author is required to garner information from an endless number of sources. This is even more challenging as research outputs have been increasing astronomically, especially in the last decade, with thousands of new articles published annually in various fields. It is therefore imperative that the author must not only be aware of the overall trajectory in a field of investigation but must also be cognizant of recent studies so as not to publish outdated research or review articles. Basically, the search for the literature involves a coherent conceptual structuring of the topic itself and a thorough collation of evidence under the common themes which might reflect the histories, conflicts, standoffs, revolutions, and/or evolutions in the field [ 7 ]. To start the search process, the author must carefully identify and select broad keywords relevant to the subject; subsequently, the keywords should be developed to refine the search into specific subheadings that would facilitate the structure of the review.

Two main tactics have been identified for searching the literature, namely, systematic and snowballing [ 42 ]. The systematic approach involves searching literature with specific keywords (for example, cancer, antioxidant, and nanoparticles), which leads to an almost unmanageable and overwhelming list of possible sources [ 43 ]. The snowballing approach, however, involves the identification of a particular publication, followed by the compilation of a bibliography of articles based on the reference list of the identified publication [ 44 ]. Many times, it might be necessary to combine both approaches, but irrespective, the author must keep an accurate track and record of papers cited in the search. A simple and efficient strategy for populating the bibliography of review articles is to go through the abstract (and sometimes the conclusion) of a paper; if the abstract is related to the topic of discourse, the author might go ahead and read the entire article; otherwise, he/she is advised to move on [ 45 ]. Winchester and Salji [ 5 ] noted that to learn the background of the subject/topic to be reviewed, starting literature searches with academic textbooks or published review articles is imperative, especially for beginners. Furthermore, it would also assist in compiling the list of keywords, identifying areas of further exploration, and providing a glimpse of the current state of the research. However, past reviews ideally are not to serve as the foundation of a new review as they are written from someone else's viewpoint, which might have been tainted with some bias. Fortunately, the accessibility and search for the literature have been made relatively easier than they were a few decades ago as the current information age has placed an enormous volume of knowledge right at our fingertips [ 46 ]. Nevertheless, when gathering the literature from the Internet, authors should exercise utmost caution as much of the information may not be verified or peer-reviewed and thus may be unregulated and unreliable. For instance, Wikipedia, despite being a large repository of information with more than 6.7 million articles in the English language alone, is considered unreliable for scientific literature reviews, due to its openness to public editing [ 47 ]. However, in addition to peer-reviewed journal publications—which are most ideal—reviews can also be drawn from a wide range of other sources such as technical documents, in-house reports, conference abstracts, and conference proceedings. Similarly, “Google Scholar”—as against “Google” and other general search engines—is more appropriate as its searches are restricted to only academic articles produced by scholarly societies or/and publishers [ 48 ]. Furthermore, the various electronic databases, such as ScienceDirect, Web of Science, PubMed, and MEDLINE, many of which focus on specific fields of research, are also ideal options [ 49 ]. Advancement in computer indexing has remarkably expanded the ease and ability to search large databases for every potentially relevant article. In addition to searching by topic, literature search can be modified by time; however, there must be a balance between old papers and recent ones. The general consensus in science is that publications less than five years old are considered recent.

It is important, especially in systematic reviews and meta-analyses, that the specific method of running the computer searches be properly documented as there is the need to include this in the method (methodology) section of such papers. Typically, the method details the keywords, databases explored, search terms used, and the inclusion/exclusion criteria applied in the selection of data and any other specific decision/criteria. All of these will ensure the reproducibility and thoroughness of the search and the selection procedure. However, Randolph [ 10 ] noted that Internet searches might not give the exhaustive list of articles needed for a review article; hence, it is advised that authors search through the reference lists of articles that were obtained initially from the Internet search. After determining the relevant articles from the list, the author should read through the references of these articles and repeat the cycle until saturation is reached [ 10 ]. After populating the articles needed for the literature review, the next step is to analyse them individually and in their whole entirety. A systematic approach to this is to identify the key information within the papers, examine them in depth, and synthesise original perspectives by integrating the information and making inferences based on the findings. In this regard, it is imperative to link one source to the other in a logical manner, for instance, taking note of studies with similar methodologies, papers that agree, or results that are contradictory [ 42 ].

5. Structuring the Review Article

The title and abstract are the main selling points of a review article, as most readers will only peruse these two elements and usually go on to read the full paper if they are drawn in by either or both of the two. Tullu [ 50 ] recommends that the title of a scientific paper “should be descriptive, direct, accurate, appropriate, interesting, concise, precise, unique, and not be misleading.” In addition to providing “just enough details” to entice the reader, words in the titles are also used by electronic databases, journal websites, and search engines to index and retrieve a particular paper during a search [ 51 ]. Titles are of different types and must be chosen according to the topic under review. They are generally classified as descriptive, declarative, or interrogative and can also be grouped into compound, nominal, or full-sentence titles [ 50 ]. The subject of these categorisations has been extensively discussed in many articles; however, the reader must also be aware of the compound titles, which usually contain a main title and a subtitle. Typically, subtitles provide additional context—to the main title—and they may specify the geographic scope of the research, research methodology, or sample size [ 52 ].

Just like primary research articles, there are many debates about the optimum length of a review article's title. However, the general consensus is to keep the title as brief as possible while not being too general. A title length between 10 and 15 words is recommended, since longer titles can be more challenging to comprehend. Paiva et al. [ 53 ] observed that articles which contain 95 characters or less get more views and citations. However, emphasis must be placed on conciseness as the audience will be more satisfied if they can understand what exactly the review has contributed to the field, rather than just a hint about the general topic area. Authors should also endeavour to stick to the journal's specific requirements, especially regarding the length of the title and what they should or should not contain [ 9 ]. Thus, avoidance of filler words such as “a review on/of,” “an observation of,” or “a study of” is a very simple way to limit title length. In addition, abbreviations or acronyms should be avoided in the title, except the standard or commonly interpreted ones such as AIDS, DNA, HIV, and RNA. In summary, to write an effective title, the authors should consider the following points. What is the paper about? What was the methodology used? What were the highlights and major conclusions? Subsequently, the author should list all the keywords from these answers, construct a sentence from these keywords, and finally delete all redundant words from the sentence title. It is also possible to gain some ideas by scanning indices and article titles in major journals in the field. It is important to emphasise that a title is not chosen and set in stone, and the title is most likely to be continually revised and adjusted until the end of the writing process.

5.2. Abstract

The abstract, also referred to as the synopsis, is a summary of the full research paper; it is typically independent and can stand alone. For most readers, a publication does not exist beyond the abstract, partly because abstracts are often the only section of a paper that is made available to the readers at no cost, whereas the full paper may attract a payment or subscription [ 54 ]. Thus, the abstract is supposed to set the tone for the few readers who wish to read the rest of the paper. It has also been noted that the abstract gives the first impression of a research work to journal editors, conference scientific committees, or referees, who might outright reject the paper if the abstract is poorly written or inadequate [ 50 ]. Hence, it is imperative that the abstract succinctly represents the entire paper and projects it positively. Just like the title, abstracts have to be balanced, comprehensive, concise, functional, independent, precise, scholarly, and unbiased and not be misleading [ 55 ]. Basically, the abstract should be formulated using keywords from all the sections of the main manuscript. Thus, it is pertinent that the abstract conveys the focus, key message, rationale, and novelty of the paper without any compromise or exaggeration. Furthermore, the abstract must be consistent with the rest of the paper; as basic as this instruction might sound, it is not to be taken for granted. For example, a study by Vrijhoef and Steuten [ 56 ] revealed that 18–68% of 264 abstracts from some scientific journals contained information that was inconsistent with the main body of the publications.

Abstracts can either be structured or unstructured; in addition, they can further be classified as either descriptive or informative. Unstructured abstracts, which are used by many scientific journals, are free flowing with no predefined subheadings, while structured abstracts have specific subheadings/subsections under which the abstract needs to be composed. Structured abstracts have been noted to be more informative and are usually divided into subsections which include the study background/introduction, objectives, methodology design, results, and conclusions [ 57 ]. No matter the style chosen, the author must carefully conform to the instructions provided by the potential journal of submission, which may include but are not limited to the format, font size/style, word limit, and subheadings [ 58 ]. The word limit for abstracts in most scientific journals is typically between 150 and 300 words. It is also a general rule that abstracts do not contain any references whatsoever.

Typically, an abstract should be written in the active voice, and there is no such thing as a perfect abstract as it could always be improved on. It is advised that the author first makes an initial draft which would contain all the essential parts of the paper, which could then be polished subsequently. The draft should begin with a brief background which would lead to the research questions. It might also include a general overview of the methodology used (if applicable) and importantly, the major results/observations/highlights of the review paper. The abstract should end with one or few sentences about any implications, perspectives, or future research that may be developed from the review exercise. Finally, the authors should eliminate redundant words and edit the abstract to the correct word count permitted by the journal [ 59 ]. It is always beneficial to read previous abstracts published in the intended journal, related topics/subjects from other journals, and other reputable sources. Furthermore, the author should endeavour to get feedback on the abstract especially from peers and co-authors. As the abstract is the face of the whole paper, it is best that it is the last section to be finalised, as by this time, the author would have developed a clearer understanding of the findings and conclusions of the entire paper.

5.3. Graphical Abstracts

Since the mid-2000s, an increasing number of journals now require authors to provide a graphical abstract (GA) in addition to the traditional written abstract, to increase the accessibility of scientific publications to readers [ 60 ]. A study showed that publications with GA performed better than those without it, when the abstract views, total citations, and downloads were compared [ 61 ]. However, the GA should provide “a single, concise pictorial, and visual summary of the main findings of an article” [ 62 ]. Although they are meant to be a stand-alone summary of the whole paper, it has been noted that they are not so easily comprehensible without having read through the traditionally written abstract [ 63 ]. It is important to note that, like traditional abstracts, many reputable journals require GAs to adhere to certain specifications such as colour, dimension, quality, file size, and file format (usually JPEG/JPG, PDF, PNG, or TIFF). In addition, it is imperative to use engaging and accurate figures, all of which must be synthesised in order to accurately reflect the key message of the paper. Currently, there are various online or downloadable graphical tools that can be used for creating GAs, such as Microsoft Paint or PowerPoint, Mindthegraph, ChemDraw, CorelDraw, and BioRender.

5.4. Keywords

As a standard practice, journals require authors to select 4–8 keywords (or phrases), which are typically listed below the abstract. A good set of keywords will enable indexers and search engines to find relevant papers more easily and can be considered as a very concise abstract [ 64 ]. According to Dewan and Gupta [ 51 ], the selection of appropriate keywords will significantly enhance the retrieval, accession, and consequently, the citation of the review paper. Ideally, keywords can be variants of the terms/phrases used in the title, the abstract, and the main text, but they should ideally not be the exact words in the main title. Choosing the most appropriate keywords for a review article involves listing down the key terms and phrases in the article, including abbreviations. Subsequently, a quick review of the glossary/vocabulary/term list or indexing standard in the specific discipline will assist in selecting the best and most precise keywords that match those used in the databases from the list drawn. In addition, the keywords should not be broad or general terms (e.g., DNA, biology, and enzymes) but must be specific to the field or subfield of study as well as to the particular paper [ 65 ].

5.5. Introduction

The introduction of an article is the first major section of the manuscript, and it presents basic information to the reader without compelling them to study past publications. In addition, the introduction directs the reader to the main arguments and points developed in the main body of the article while clarifying the current state of knowledge in that particular area of research [ 12 ]. The introduction part of a review article is usually sectionalised into background information, a description of the main topic and finally a statement of the main purpose of the review [ 66 ]. Authors may begin the introduction with brief general statements—which provide background knowledge on the subject matter—that lead to more specific ones [ 67 ]. It is at this point that the reader's attention must be caught as the background knowledge must highlight the importance and justification for the subject being discussed, while also identifying the major problem to be addressed [ 68 ]. In addition, the background should be broad enough to attract even nonspecialists in the field to maximise the impact and widen the reach of the article. All of these should be done in the light of current literature; however, old references may also be used for historical purposes. A very important aspect of the introduction is clearly stating and establishing the research problem(s) and how a review of the particular topic contributes to those problem(s). Thus, the research gap which the paper intends to fill, the limitations of previous works and past reviews, if available, and the new knowledge to be contributed must all be highlighted. Inadequate information and the inability to clarify the problem will keep readers (who have the desire to obtain new information) from reading beyond the introduction [ 69 ]. It is also pertinent that the author establishes the purpose of reviewing the literature and defines the scope as well as the major synthesised point of view. Furthermore, a brief insight into the criteria used to select, evaluate, and analyse the literature, as well as the outline or sequence of the review, should be provided in the introduction. Subsequently, the specific objectives of the review article must be presented. The last part of the “introduction” section should focus on the solution, the way forward, the recommendations, and the further areas of research as deduced from the whole review process. According to DeMaria [ 70 ], clearly expressed or recommended solutions to an explicitly revealed problem are very important for the wholesomeness of the “introduction” section. It is believed that following these steps will give readers the opportunity to track the problems and the corresponding solution from their own perspective in the light of current literature. As against some suggestions that the introduction should be written only in present tenses, it is also believed that it could be done with other tenses in addition to the present tense. In this regard, general facts should be written in the present tense, specific research/work should be in the past tense, while the concluding statement should be in the past perfect or simple past. Furthermore, many of the abbreviations to be used in the rest of the manuscript and their explanations should be defined in this section.

5.6. Methodology

Writing a review article is equivalent to conducting a research study, with the information gathered by the author (reviewer) representing the data. Like all major studies, it involves conceptualisation, planning, implementation, and dissemination [ 71 ], all of which may be detailed in a methodology section, if necessary. Hence, the methodological section of a review paper (which can also be referred to as the review protocol) details how the relevant literature was selected and how it was analysed as well as summarised. The selection details may include, but are not limited to, the database consulted and the specific search terms used together with the inclusion/exclusion criteria. As earlier highlighted in Section 3 , a description of the methodology is required for all types of reviews except for narrative reviews. This is partly because unlike narrative reviews, all other review articles follow systematic approaches which must ensure significant reproducibility [ 72 ]. Therefore, where necessary, the methods of data extraction from the literature and data synthesis must also be highlighted as well. In some cases, it is important to show how data were combined by highlighting the statistical methods used, measures of effect, and tests performed, as well as demonstrating heterogeneity and publication bias [ 73 ].

The methodology should also detail the major databases consulted during the literature search, e.g., Dimensions, ScienceDirect, Web of Science, MEDLINE, and PubMed. For meta-analysis, it is imperative to highlight the software and/or package used, which could include Comprehensive Meta-Analysis, OpenMEE, Review Manager (RevMan), Stata, SAS, and R Studio. It is also necessary to state the mathematical methods used for the analysis; examples of these include the Bayesian analysis, the Mantel–Haenszel method, and the inverse variance method. The methodology should also state the number of authors that carried out the initial review stage of the study, as it has been recommended that at least two reviews should be done blindly and in parallel, especially when it comes to the acquisition and synthesis of data [ 74 ]. Finally, the quality and validity assessment of the publication used in the review must be stated and well clarified [ 73 ].

5.7. Main Body of the Review

Ideally, the main body of a publishable review should answer these questions: What is new (contribution)? Why so (logic)? So what (impact)? How well it is done (thoroughness)? The flow of the main body of a review article must be well organised to adequately maintain the attention of the readers as well as guide them through the section. It is recommended that the author should consider drawing a conceptual scheme of the main body first, using methods such as mind-mapping. This will help create a logical flow of thought and presentation, while also linking the various sections of the manuscript together. According to Moreira [ 75 ], “reports do not simply yield their findings, rather reviewers make them yield,” and thus, it is the author's responsibility to transform “resistant” texts into “docile” texts. Hence, after the search for the literature, the essential themes and key concepts of the review paper must be identified and synthesised together. This synthesis primarily involves creating hypotheses about the relationships between the concepts with the aim of increasing the understanding of the topic being reviewed. The important information from the various sources should not only be summarised, but the significance of studies must be related back to the initial question(s) posed by the review article. Furthermore, MacLure [ 76 ] stated that data are not just to be plainly “extracted intact” and “used exactly as extracted,” but must be modified, reconfigured, transformed, transposed, converted, tabulated, graphed, or manipulated to enable synthesis, combination, and comparison. Therefore, different pieces of information must be extracted from the reports in which they were previously deposited and then refined into the body of the new article [ 75 ]. To this end, adequate comparison and combination might require that “qualitative data be quantified” or/and “quantitative data may be qualitized” [ 77 ]. In order to accomplish all of these goals, the author may have to transform, paraphrase, generalize, specify, and reorder the text [ 78 ]. For comprehensiveness, the body paragraphs should be arranged in a similar order as it was initially stated in the abstract or/and introduction. Thus, the main body could be divided into thematic areas, each of which could be independently comprehensive and treated as a mini review. Similarly, the sections can also be arranged chronologically depending on the focus of the review. Furthermore, the abstractions should proceed from a wider general view of the literature being reviewed and then be narrowed down to the specifics. In the process, deep insights should also be provided between the topic of the review and the wider subject area, e.g., fungal enzymes and enzymes in general. The abstractions must also be discussed in more detail by presenting more specific information from the identified sources (with proper citations of course!). For example, it is important to identify and highlight contrary findings and rival interpretations as well as to point out areas of agreement or debate among different bodies of literature. Often, there are previous reviews on the same topic/concept; however, this does not prevent a new author from writing one on the same topic, especially if the previous reviews were written many years ago. However, it is important that the body of the new manuscript be written from a new angle that was not adequately covered in the past reviews and should also incorporate new studies that have accumulated since the last review(s). In addition, the new review might also highlight the approaches, limitations, and conclusions of the past studies. But the authors must not be excessively critical of the past reviews as this is regarded by many authors as a sign of poor professionalism [ 3 , 79 ]. Daft [ 79 ] emphasized that it is more important for a reviewer to state how their research builds on previous work instead of outright claiming that previous works are incompetent and inadequate. However, if a series of related papers on one topic have a common error or research flaw that needs rectification, the reviewer must point this out with the aim of moving the field forward [ 3 ]. Like every other scientific paper, the main body of a review article also needs to be consistent in style, for example, in the choice of passive vs. active voice and present vs. past tense. It is also important to note that tables and figures can serve as a powerful tool for highlighting key points in the body of the review, and they are now considered core elements of reviews. For more guidance and insights into what should make up the contents of a good review article, readers are also advised to get familiarised with the Boote and Beile [ 80 ] literature review scoring rubric as well as the review article checklist of Short [ 81 ].

5.8. Tables and Figures

An ideal review article should be logically structured and efficiently utilise illustrations, in the form of tables and figures, to convey the key findings and relationships in the study. According to Tay [ 13 ], illustrations often take a secondary role in review papers when compared to primary research papers which are focused on illustrations. However, illustrations are very important in review articles as they can serve as succinct means of communicating major findings and insights. Franzblau and Chung [ 82 ] pointed out that illustrations serve three major purposes in a scientific article: they simplify complex data and relationships for better understanding, they minimise reading time by summarising and bringing to focus on the key findings (or trends), and last, they help to reduce the overall word count. Hence, inserting and constructing illustrations in a review article is as meticulous as it is important. However, important decisions should be made on whether the charts, figures, or tables to be potentially inserted in the manuscript are indeed needed and how best to design them [ 83 ]. Illustrations should enhance the text while providing necessary information; thus, the information described in illustrations should not contradict that in the main text and should also not be a repetition of texts [ 84 ]. Furthermore, illustrations must be autonomous, meaning they ought to be intelligible without having to read the text portion of the manuscript; thus, the reader does not have to flip back and forth between the illustration and the main text in order to understand it [ 85 ]. It should be noted that tables or figures that directly reiterate the main text or contain extraneous information will only make a mess of the manuscript and discourage readers [ 86 ].

Kotz and Cals [ 87 ] recommend that the layout of tables and figures should be carefully designed in a clear manner with suitable layouts, which will allow them to be referred to logically and chronologically in the text. In addition, illustrations should only contain simple text, as lengthy details would contradict their initial objective, which was to provide simple examples or an overview. Furthermore, the use of abbreviations in illustrations, especially tables, should be avoided if possible. If not, the abbreviations should be defined explicitly in the footnotes or legends of the illustration [ 88 ]. Similarly, numerical values in tables and graphs should also be correctly approximated [ 84 ]. It is recommended that the number of tables and figures in the manuscript should not exceed the target journal's specification. According to Saver [ 89 ], they ideally should not account for more than one-third of the manuscript. Finally, the author(s) must seek permission and give credits for using an already published illustration when necessary. However, none of these are needed if the graphic is originally created by the author, but if it is a reproduced or an adapted illustration, the author must obtain permission from the copyright owner and include the necessary credit. One of the very important tools for designing illustrations is Creative Commons, a platform that provides a wide range of creative works which are available to the public for use and modification.

5.9. Conclusion/Future Perspectives

It has been observed that many reviews end abruptly with a short conclusion; however, a lot more can be included in this section in addition to what has been said in the major sections of the paper. Basically, the conclusion section of a review article should provide a summary of key findings from the main body of the manuscript. In this section, the author needs to revisit the critical points of the paper as well as highlight the accuracy, validity, and relevance of the inferences drawn in the article review. A good conclusion should highlight the relationship between the major points and the author's hypothesis as well as the relationship between the hypothesis and the broader discussion to demonstrate the significance of the review article in a larger context. In addition to giving a concise summary of the important findings that describe current knowledge, the conclusion must also offer a rationale for conducting future research [ 12 ]. Knowledge gaps should be identified, and themes should be logically developed in order to construct conceptual frameworks as well as present a way forward for future research in the field of study [ 11 ].

Furthermore, the author may have to justify the propositions made earlier in the manuscript, demonstrate how the paper extends past research works, and also suggest ways that the expounded theories can be empirically examined [ 3 ]. Unlike experimental studies which can only draw either a positive conclusion or ambiguous failure to reject the null hypothesis, four possible conclusions can be drawn from review articles [ 1 ]. First, the theory/hypothesis propounded may be correct after being proven from current evidence; second, the hypothesis may not be explicitly proven but is most probably the best guess. The third conclusion is that the currently available evidence does not permit a confident conclusion or a best guess, while the last conclusion is that the theory or hypothesis is false [ 1 ]. It is important not to present new information in the conclusion section which has link whatsoever with the rest of the manuscript. According to Harris et al. [ 90 ], the conclusions should, in essence, answer the question: if a reader were to remember one thing about the review, what would it be?

5.10. References

As it has been noted in different parts of this paper, authors must give the required credit to any work or source(s) of information that was included in the review article. This must include the in-text citations in the main body of the paper and the corresponding entries in the reference list. Ideally, this full bibliographical list is the last part of the review article, and it should contain all the books, book chapters, journal articles, reports, and other media, which were utilised in the manuscript. It has been noted that most journals and publishers have their own specific referencing styles which are all derived from the more popular styles such as the American Psychological Association (APA), Chicago, Harvard, Modern Language Association (MLA), and Vancouver styles. However, all these styles may be categorised into either the parenthetical or numerical referencing style. Although a few journals do not have strict referencing rules, it is the responsibility of the author to reference according to the style and instructions of the journal. Omissions and errors must be avoided at all costs, and this can be easily achieved by going over the references many times for due diligence [ 11 ]. According to Cronin et al. [ 12 ], a separate file for references can be created, and any work used in the manuscript can be added to this list immediately after being cited in the text [ 12 ]. In recent times, the emergence of various referencing management software applications such as Endnote, RefWorks, Mendeley, and Zotero has even made referencing easier. The majority of these software applications require little technical expertise, and many of them are free to use, while others may require a subscription. It is imperative, however, that even after using these software packages, the author must manually curate the references during the final draft, in order to avoid any errors, since these programs are not impervious to errors, particularly formatting errors.

6. Concluding Remarks

Writing a review article is a skill that needs to be learned; it is a rigorous but rewarding endeavour as it can provide a useful platform to project the emerging researcher or postgraduate student into the gratifying world of publishing. Thus, the reviewer must develop the ability to think critically, spot patterns in a large volume of information, and must be invested in writing without tiring. The prospective author must also be inspired and dedicated to the successful completion of the article while also ensuring that the review article is not just a mere list or summary of previous research. It is also important that the review process must be focused on the literature and not on the authors; thus, overt criticism of existing research and personal aspersions must be avoided at all costs. All ideas, sentences, words, and illustrations should be constructed in a way to avoid plagiarism; basically, this can be achieved by paraphrasing, summarising, and giving the necessary acknowledgments. Currently, there are many tools to track and detect plagiarism in manuscripts, ensuring that they fall within a reasonable similarity index (which is typically 15% or lower for most journals). Although the more popular of these tools, such as Turnitin and iThenticate, are subscription-based, there are many freely available web-based options as well. An ideal review article is supposed to motivate the research topic and describe its key concepts while delineating the boundaries of research. In this regard, experience-based information on how to methodologically develop acceptable and impactful review articles has been detailed in this paper. Furthermore, for a beginner, this guide has detailed “the why” and “the how” of authoring a good scientific review article. However, the information in this paper may as a whole or in parts be also applicable to other fields of research and to other writing endeavours such as writing literature review in theses, dissertations, and primary research articles. Finally, the intending authors must put all the basic rules of scientific writing and writing in general into cognizance. A comprehensive study of the articles cited within this paper and other related articles focused on scientific writing will further enhance the ability of the motivated beginner to deliver a good review article.

Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of South Africa under grant number UID 138097. The authors would like to thank the Durban University of Technology for funding the postdoctoral fellowship of the first author, Dr. Ayodeji Amobonye.

Data Availability

Conflicts of interest.

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

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Home » Research Paper – Structure, Examples and Writing Guide

Research Paper – Structure, Examples and Writing Guide

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Research Paper

Research Paper

Definition:

Research Paper is a written document that presents the author’s original research, analysis, and interpretation of a specific topic or issue.

It is typically based on Empirical Evidence, and may involve qualitative or quantitative research methods, or a combination of both. The purpose of a research paper is to contribute new knowledge or insights to a particular field of study, and to demonstrate the author’s understanding of the existing literature and theories related to the topic.

Structure of Research Paper

The structure of a research paper typically follows a standard format, consisting of several sections that convey specific information about the research study. The following is a detailed explanation of the structure of a research paper:

The title page contains the title of the paper, the name(s) of the author(s), and the affiliation(s) of the author(s). It also includes the date of submission and possibly, the name of the journal or conference where the paper is to be published.

The abstract is a brief summary of the research paper, typically ranging from 100 to 250 words. It should include the research question, the methods used, the key findings, and the implications of the results. The abstract should be written in a concise and clear manner to allow readers to quickly grasp the essence of the research.

Introduction

The introduction section of a research paper provides background information about the research problem, the research question, and the research objectives. It also outlines the significance of the research, the research gap that it aims to fill, and the approach taken to address the research question. Finally, the introduction section ends with a clear statement of the research hypothesis or research question.

Literature Review

The literature review section of a research paper provides an overview of the existing literature on the topic of study. It includes a critical analysis and synthesis of the literature, highlighting the key concepts, themes, and debates. The literature review should also demonstrate the research gap and how the current study seeks to address it.

The methods section of a research paper describes the research design, the sample selection, the data collection and analysis procedures, and the statistical methods used to analyze the data. This section should provide sufficient detail for other researchers to replicate the study.

The results section presents the findings of the research, using tables, graphs, and figures to illustrate the data. The findings should be presented in a clear and concise manner, with reference to the research question and hypothesis.

The discussion section of a research paper interprets the findings and discusses their implications for the research question, the literature review, and the field of study. It should also address the limitations of the study and suggest future research directions.

The conclusion section summarizes the main findings of the study, restates the research question and hypothesis, and provides a final reflection on the significance of the research.

The references section provides a list of all the sources cited in the paper, following a specific citation style such as APA, MLA or Chicago.

How to Write Research Paper

You can write Research Paper by the following guide:

  • Choose a Topic: The first step is to select a topic that interests you and is relevant to your field of study. Brainstorm ideas and narrow down to a research question that is specific and researchable.
  • Conduct a Literature Review: The literature review helps you identify the gap in the existing research and provides a basis for your research question. It also helps you to develop a theoretical framework and research hypothesis.
  • Develop a Thesis Statement : The thesis statement is the main argument of your research paper. It should be clear, concise and specific to your research question.
  • Plan your Research: Develop a research plan that outlines the methods, data sources, and data analysis procedures. This will help you to collect and analyze data effectively.
  • Collect and Analyze Data: Collect data using various methods such as surveys, interviews, observations, or experiments. Analyze data using statistical tools or other qualitative methods.
  • Organize your Paper : Organize your paper into sections such as Introduction, Literature Review, Methods, Results, Discussion, and Conclusion. Ensure that each section is coherent and follows a logical flow.
  • Write your Paper : Start by writing the introduction, followed by the literature review, methods, results, discussion, and conclusion. Ensure that your writing is clear, concise, and follows the required formatting and citation styles.
  • Edit and Proofread your Paper: Review your paper for grammar and spelling errors, and ensure that it is well-structured and easy to read. Ask someone else to review your paper to get feedback and suggestions for improvement.
  • Cite your Sources: Ensure that you properly cite all sources used in your research paper. This is essential for giving credit to the original authors and avoiding plagiarism.

Research Paper Example

Note : The below example research paper is for illustrative purposes only and is not an actual research paper. Actual research papers may have different structures, contents, and formats depending on the field of study, research question, data collection and analysis methods, and other factors. Students should always consult with their professors or supervisors for specific guidelines and expectations for their research papers.

Research Paper Example sample for Students:

Title: The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health among Young Adults

Abstract: This study aims to investigate the impact of social media use on the mental health of young adults. A literature review was conducted to examine the existing research on the topic. A survey was then administered to 200 university students to collect data on their social media use, mental health status, and perceived impact of social media on their mental health. The results showed that social media use is positively associated with depression, anxiety, and stress. The study also found that social comparison, cyberbullying, and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) are significant predictors of mental health problems among young adults.

Introduction: Social media has become an integral part of modern life, particularly among young adults. While social media has many benefits, including increased communication and social connectivity, it has also been associated with negative outcomes, such as addiction, cyberbullying, and mental health problems. This study aims to investigate the impact of social media use on the mental health of young adults.

Literature Review: The literature review highlights the existing research on the impact of social media use on mental health. The review shows that social media use is associated with depression, anxiety, stress, and other mental health problems. The review also identifies the factors that contribute to the negative impact of social media, including social comparison, cyberbullying, and FOMO.

Methods : A survey was administered to 200 university students to collect data on their social media use, mental health status, and perceived impact of social media on their mental health. The survey included questions on social media use, mental health status (measured using the DASS-21), and perceived impact of social media on their mental health. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and regression analysis.

Results : The results showed that social media use is positively associated with depression, anxiety, and stress. The study also found that social comparison, cyberbullying, and FOMO are significant predictors of mental health problems among young adults.

Discussion : The study’s findings suggest that social media use has a negative impact on the mental health of young adults. The study highlights the need for interventions that address the factors contributing to the negative impact of social media, such as social comparison, cyberbullying, and FOMO.

Conclusion : In conclusion, social media use has a significant impact on the mental health of young adults. The study’s findings underscore the need for interventions that promote healthy social media use and address the negative outcomes associated with social media use. Future research can explore the effectiveness of interventions aimed at reducing the negative impact of social media on mental health. Additionally, longitudinal studies can investigate the long-term effects of social media use on mental health.

Limitations : The study has some limitations, including the use of self-report measures and a cross-sectional design. The use of self-report measures may result in biased responses, and a cross-sectional design limits the ability to establish causality.

Implications: The study’s findings have implications for mental health professionals, educators, and policymakers. Mental health professionals can use the findings to develop interventions that address the negative impact of social media use on mental health. Educators can incorporate social media literacy into their curriculum to promote healthy social media use among young adults. Policymakers can use the findings to develop policies that protect young adults from the negative outcomes associated with social media use.

References :

  • Twenge, J. M., & Campbell, W. K. (2019). Associations between screen time and lower psychological well-being among children and adolescents: Evidence from a population-based study. Preventive medicine reports, 15, 100918.
  • Primack, B. A., Shensa, A., Escobar-Viera, C. G., Barrett, E. L., Sidani, J. E., Colditz, J. B., … & James, A. E. (2017). Use of multiple social media platforms and symptoms of depression and anxiety: A nationally-representative study among US young adults. Computers in Human Behavior, 69, 1-9.
  • Van der Meer, T. G., & Verhoeven, J. W. (2017). Social media and its impact on academic performance of students. Journal of Information Technology Education: Research, 16, 383-398.

Appendix : The survey used in this study is provided below.

Social Media and Mental Health Survey

  • How often do you use social media per day?
  • Less than 30 minutes
  • 30 minutes to 1 hour
  • 1 to 2 hours
  • 2 to 4 hours
  • More than 4 hours
  • Which social media platforms do you use?
  • Others (Please specify)
  • How often do you experience the following on social media?
  • Social comparison (comparing yourself to others)
  • Cyberbullying
  • Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
  • Have you ever experienced any of the following mental health problems in the past month?
  • Do you think social media use has a positive or negative impact on your mental health?
  • Very positive
  • Somewhat positive
  • Somewhat negative
  • Very negative
  • In your opinion, which factors contribute to the negative impact of social media on mental health?
  • Social comparison
  • In your opinion, what interventions could be effective in reducing the negative impact of social media on mental health?
  • Education on healthy social media use
  • Counseling for mental health problems caused by social media
  • Social media detox programs
  • Regulation of social media use

Thank you for your participation!

Applications of Research Paper

Research papers have several applications in various fields, including:

  • Advancing knowledge: Research papers contribute to the advancement of knowledge by generating new insights, theories, and findings that can inform future research and practice. They help to answer important questions, clarify existing knowledge, and identify areas that require further investigation.
  • Informing policy: Research papers can inform policy decisions by providing evidence-based recommendations for policymakers. They can help to identify gaps in current policies, evaluate the effectiveness of interventions, and inform the development of new policies and regulations.
  • Improving practice: Research papers can improve practice by providing evidence-based guidance for professionals in various fields, including medicine, education, business, and psychology. They can inform the development of best practices, guidelines, and standards of care that can improve outcomes for individuals and organizations.
  • Educating students : Research papers are often used as teaching tools in universities and colleges to educate students about research methods, data analysis, and academic writing. They help students to develop critical thinking skills, research skills, and communication skills that are essential for success in many careers.
  • Fostering collaboration: Research papers can foster collaboration among researchers, practitioners, and policymakers by providing a platform for sharing knowledge and ideas. They can facilitate interdisciplinary collaborations and partnerships that can lead to innovative solutions to complex problems.

When to Write Research Paper

Research papers are typically written when a person has completed a research project or when they have conducted a study and have obtained data or findings that they want to share with the academic or professional community. Research papers are usually written in academic settings, such as universities, but they can also be written in professional settings, such as research organizations, government agencies, or private companies.

Here are some common situations where a person might need to write a research paper:

  • For academic purposes: Students in universities and colleges are often required to write research papers as part of their coursework, particularly in the social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities. Writing research papers helps students to develop research skills, critical thinking skills, and academic writing skills.
  • For publication: Researchers often write research papers to publish their findings in academic journals or to present their work at academic conferences. Publishing research papers is an important way to disseminate research findings to the academic community and to establish oneself as an expert in a particular field.
  • To inform policy or practice : Researchers may write research papers to inform policy decisions or to improve practice in various fields. Research findings can be used to inform the development of policies, guidelines, and best practices that can improve outcomes for individuals and organizations.
  • To share new insights or ideas: Researchers may write research papers to share new insights or ideas with the academic or professional community. They may present new theories, propose new research methods, or challenge existing paradigms in their field.

Purpose of Research Paper

The purpose of a research paper is to present the results of a study or investigation in a clear, concise, and structured manner. Research papers are written to communicate new knowledge, ideas, or findings to a specific audience, such as researchers, scholars, practitioners, or policymakers. The primary purposes of a research paper are:

  • To contribute to the body of knowledge : Research papers aim to add new knowledge or insights to a particular field or discipline. They do this by reporting the results of empirical studies, reviewing and synthesizing existing literature, proposing new theories, or providing new perspectives on a topic.
  • To inform or persuade: Research papers are written to inform or persuade the reader about a particular issue, topic, or phenomenon. They present evidence and arguments to support their claims and seek to persuade the reader of the validity of their findings or recommendations.
  • To advance the field: Research papers seek to advance the field or discipline by identifying gaps in knowledge, proposing new research questions or approaches, or challenging existing assumptions or paradigms. They aim to contribute to ongoing debates and discussions within a field and to stimulate further research and inquiry.
  • To demonstrate research skills: Research papers demonstrate the author’s research skills, including their ability to design and conduct a study, collect and analyze data, and interpret and communicate findings. They also demonstrate the author’s ability to critically evaluate existing literature, synthesize information from multiple sources, and write in a clear and structured manner.

Characteristics of Research Paper

Research papers have several characteristics that distinguish them from other forms of academic or professional writing. Here are some common characteristics of research papers:

  • Evidence-based: Research papers are based on empirical evidence, which is collected through rigorous research methods such as experiments, surveys, observations, or interviews. They rely on objective data and facts to support their claims and conclusions.
  • Structured and organized: Research papers have a clear and logical structure, with sections such as introduction, literature review, methods, results, discussion, and conclusion. They are organized in a way that helps the reader to follow the argument and understand the findings.
  • Formal and objective: Research papers are written in a formal and objective tone, with an emphasis on clarity, precision, and accuracy. They avoid subjective language or personal opinions and instead rely on objective data and analysis to support their arguments.
  • Citations and references: Research papers include citations and references to acknowledge the sources of information and ideas used in the paper. They use a specific citation style, such as APA, MLA, or Chicago, to ensure consistency and accuracy.
  • Peer-reviewed: Research papers are often peer-reviewed, which means they are evaluated by other experts in the field before they are published. Peer-review ensures that the research is of high quality, meets ethical standards, and contributes to the advancement of knowledge in the field.
  • Objective and unbiased: Research papers strive to be objective and unbiased in their presentation of the findings. They avoid personal biases or preconceptions and instead rely on the data and analysis to draw conclusions.

Advantages of Research Paper

Research papers have many advantages, both for the individual researcher and for the broader academic and professional community. Here are some advantages of research papers:

  • Contribution to knowledge: Research papers contribute to the body of knowledge in a particular field or discipline. They add new information, insights, and perspectives to existing literature and help advance the understanding of a particular phenomenon or issue.
  • Opportunity for intellectual growth: Research papers provide an opportunity for intellectual growth for the researcher. They require critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity, which can help develop the researcher’s skills and knowledge.
  • Career advancement: Research papers can help advance the researcher’s career by demonstrating their expertise and contributions to the field. They can also lead to new research opportunities, collaborations, and funding.
  • Academic recognition: Research papers can lead to academic recognition in the form of awards, grants, or invitations to speak at conferences or events. They can also contribute to the researcher’s reputation and standing in the field.
  • Impact on policy and practice: Research papers can have a significant impact on policy and practice. They can inform policy decisions, guide practice, and lead to changes in laws, regulations, or procedures.
  • Advancement of society: Research papers can contribute to the advancement of society by addressing important issues, identifying solutions to problems, and promoting social justice and equality.

Limitations of Research Paper

Research papers also have some limitations that should be considered when interpreting their findings or implications. Here are some common limitations of research papers:

  • Limited generalizability: Research findings may not be generalizable to other populations, settings, or contexts. Studies often use specific samples or conditions that may not reflect the broader population or real-world situations.
  • Potential for bias : Research papers may be biased due to factors such as sample selection, measurement errors, or researcher biases. It is important to evaluate the quality of the research design and methods used to ensure that the findings are valid and reliable.
  • Ethical concerns: Research papers may raise ethical concerns, such as the use of vulnerable populations or invasive procedures. Researchers must adhere to ethical guidelines and obtain informed consent from participants to ensure that the research is conducted in a responsible and respectful manner.
  • Limitations of methodology: Research papers may be limited by the methodology used to collect and analyze data. For example, certain research methods may not capture the complexity or nuance of a particular phenomenon, or may not be appropriate for certain research questions.
  • Publication bias: Research papers may be subject to publication bias, where positive or significant findings are more likely to be published than negative or non-significant findings. This can skew the overall findings of a particular area of research.
  • Time and resource constraints: Research papers may be limited by time and resource constraints, which can affect the quality and scope of the research. Researchers may not have access to certain data or resources, or may be unable to conduct long-term studies due to practical limitations.

About the author

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Muhammad Hassan

Researcher, Academic Writer, Web developer

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Academic Skills

  • Academic Skills Home
  • Learning Preference
  • Identifying and Leveraging your Support Systems
  • Critical Thinking Skills
  • Professional Communication
  • Achieving Balance: Structure and schedule
  • Time Management
  • Overcoming Coursework Challenges
  • Taking Ownership of your Success
  • Success Tips from your AFA
  • Utilizing Faculty Feedback
  • ASC Writing Resources Guide This link opens in a new window
  • Academic Integrity Basics
  • Academic Integrity Violation (AIV) and Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Self Plagiarism
  • Academic Integrity Checklist
  • Turnitin and Draft Coach
  • Organization and Format
  • Reviewing, Revising, Proofreading and Editing

What is Reviewing and Revising?

What is proofreading and editing.

  • NU Library Research Process Guide This link opens in a new window

Critically reviewing your work before submission and applying feedback given to any resubmissions and future assignments. At Northcentral University, faculty will provide you weekly feedback on your papers. This feedback should be used to incrementally improve your work as well as help you determine if additional support is needed.

Expectation

At National, it is an expectation that faculty provide feedback to ensure students clearly know what they need to do to achieve the required learning outcomes. Likewise, it is expected of the student to review and apply faculty feedback into any resubmissions and future assignments. Graduate level writing involves an iterative process that involves prewriting, writing, submitting, receiving feedback, and revising and editing by using that feedback. The graph below shows that students should think of the writing process as a continuous cycle.

Reviewing and revising process

  • If you need assistance with how to apply faculty feedback, you can contact Ask a Coach to ask questions or to schedule assistance with these writing issues.
  • For example, focus on all APA citations issues first. You may want to take a break and then focus on grammar. The next day, you can focus on areas that need to add material or be rewritten.
  • For example, if you are given feedback on how to correct an in-text citation, check to make sure all in-text citations are done using the correct format.
  • Use Academic Writer to assist with all APA Style concerns.
  • Leave time for revision. If a paper is due Sunday, try to leave at least a day to re-read and revise before submitting.
  • Make use of the resources in Library, Academic Success Center, and the Graduate Studies Support Center (formerly CTL).

Resource Spotlight

Grammarly, the automated grammar checker, is one resource offered through Northcentral University to assist with self-editing and proofreading. Grammarly develops essential writing skills by helping students revise their papers and providing automated instructional feedback. Grammarly extensions can be downloaded for word, email, and internet browsers to assist with writing in a variety of situations.

Grammarly error example

Create a Grammarly Account

Create a Grammarly account through the Academic Success Center so you have access to the benefits of having a premium account.

Editing is something that can be done as soon as you finish your first draft and should be done several times as you polish your paper. Editing consists of rereading your draft to see if the paper has strong transitions, is well-organized, and has evidence that backs up your argument. Here are some areas to focus on during editing: overall structure, structure within paragraphs, clarity, writing style, and APA style. Proofreading is the final stage of the editing process that focuses on finding surface errors such as misspellings and grammar mistakes. Proofreading should be done after all other editing is complete.

At National, students are expected to turn in work that has a scholarly tone, is well-organized, uses clear and concise sentences, and has scholarly research properly cited and synthesized into the document. Learning about editing and finding a process that works for you will help you edit all papers to ensure they meet scholarly writing expectations. Likewise, students are expected to submit polished work that has been reviewed for spelling, grammar, APA Style, and sentence structure issues, which falls under proofreading. It is important to know that faculty members and academic coaches will not proofread or edit for you. Therefore, learning these skills will assist you in developing polished work. Remember the graph above on the writing process? This module focuses on the editing component of the graph, which also comprises proofreading.

  • Going back through the assignment and focusing on content is a good first step.
  • Using an organizer such as the MEAL PLAN referenced in the Organization and Format module can help you ensure all paragraphs have a main point, evidence, analysis, and linking sentence.
  • Do you use “I” or “You” in the paper? If so, edit it out and stay objective by using third person.
  • Do you use contractions such as “can’t” or “won’t” in the paper? If so, edit them out by using the full words such as “cannot” and “would not” instead.
  • Use a tool like Academic Writer to look up how to properly format and cite.
  • For example, when reading this sentence silently, “I have to two tune in a paper this Sunday,” you may not catch the error. When reading out loud, you pay more attention to sounds and can catch grammar and spelling issues. Read the sentence again aloud: where is the error?
  • Proofreading aloud reveals holes in the paper such as a lack of transition or even missing information.
  • Proofreading aloud also helps with awkward word placement (you can hear this type of placement better than see it) and it also helps to identify repetitive word usage (e.g. using “edit” three times in one sentence).
  • Remember: When using Grammarly, resolve all highlighted issues before saving and sending to your faculty member.

Self-Assessment

Now that you have signed up for Grammarly, it is time to try out the resource.

  • Follow the steps to upload or create a new document .
  • Once you upload or add text, Grammarly will automatically check your work.
  • Review all feedback by expanding each item (see screenshot below).
  • Read the rules as well as the examples of correct and incorrect usage.
  • Discuss what writing issues you have seen before in your writing, which ones are new, and locate one resource (post the link) that could help you address one of the writing issues.
  • Remember you can contact Ask a Coach to ask questions or to schedule assistance with these writing issues.
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  • Last Updated: Mar 22, 2024 7:59 AM
  • URL: https://resources.nu.edu/ata/academicskills

NCU Library Home

The University of Chicago The Law School

Q&a with bethany ao, editor-in-chief of the university of chicago law review.

What’s it like being on a journal? Better yet, serving as editor-in-chief? In this series, we sit down with the editors-in-chief of the four student-edited journals of the Law School to find out.

Here, we talk to Bethany Ao, ’24, who leads the University of Chicago Law Review —the longest-running journal at the Law School. It publishes eight times a year in print and offers original online content between issues. Law Review was established in 1933 and continues to serve as an esteemed law journal dedicated to the ideas of leading professors, judges, and practitioners.

Woman sitting at a computer desk smiling at the camera

How did you first get involved in the University of Chicago Law Review? And why this one?

I joined the Law Review as a staffer the summer after my 1L year. I chose to join the Law Review in part because it is a general interest legal journal, meaning that it publishes scholarship from all areas of law. I thought that participation in the Law Review would give me valuable exposure to different areas of law that I hadn’t taken classes in yet. The second big reason was the opportunity to work closely with my classmates. I had worked in journalism before coming to the Law School. During that time, my writing skills developed significantly due to feedback from my editors and peers. I wanted the opportunity to do the same for my legal writing skills, and Law Review was a great place to get that constructive feedback.

What's it like being editor-in-chief of the longest-running journal at the Law School?  

Being editor-in-chief of the Law Review is an unbelievable honor, but it’s also one of the hardest things I’ve done at the Law School. The most challenging aspect of the role is balancing my workload. I have learned to manage my time tightly to complete my journal work in addition to my clinic and academic responsibilities. At the same time, the role is incredibly rewarding. It is so gratifying to polish and publish a piece of excellent scholarship from start to finish, and to do so with my peers (who are all hardworking, brilliant people) has been an immense privilege.

What do you wish more people knew about your journal? 

That while we work hard and take our editing responsibilities seriously, we also have a lot of fun in what we affectionately call the “Joffice”! Law Review is a community of students with a range of legal interests, hobbies, and personalities, which means that on any given day, you can walk into the Joffice and overhear debates on whether paper money is unconstitutional, the merits of semicolons versus em dashes, or which NBA player has the best case for MVP. It’s a great way to get to know your classmates better in that sense!

Why is it important for law students to get involved in a journal?

Journal involvement has undoubtedly helped me sharpen my legal writing and research skills and strengthen my critical thinking. I believe that many other Law Review members would say the same of their journal experiences. It also provides students with a collaborative space in which they can develop creative arguments about the law alongside their peers (especially when they’re going through the Comment process and writing their own scholarship), which helps with learning to evaluate the strength and weaknesses of legal arguments in general. For those reasons, I believe that the journal experience is a deeply valuable one.

What’s something most people would be surprised to learn about you? 

I love backpacking! My first backpacking trip was a solo one to Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia, and I’ve also completed the Tour du Mont Blanc with my mom. I’m hoping to backpack the Alta Via in the Italian Dolomites after the bar exam this summer!

Civil and Environmental Engineering Communication Lab

CEE Comm Lab helps first-year undergraduates present scientific research

The following is a modified excerpt from the MIT News article, “ First-year MIT students gain hands-on research experience in supportive peer community ” by Callie Ayoub.

During MIT’s Independent Activities Period (IAP) this January, first-year students interested in civil and environmental engineering (CEE) participated in a four-week undergraduate research opportunities program known as the mini-UROP (1.097). The six-unit subject pairs first-year students with a CEE graduate student or postdoc mentor, providing them with an inside look at the research being conducted in the department. The program culminates with a presentation event open to the entire CEE community.

Overall, eight labs in the department opened their doors to the 2024 cohort, who were eager to take advantage of the opportunity to collaborate with current students and build a community around their interests. The interdisciplinary nature of the department’s research offered participants a wide range of projects to work on, from redefining autonomous vehicle deployment to mitigating the effects of drought on crops.

Mini-UROP participant Iraira Rivera Rojas works in the Marelli Lab in CEE.

Mini-UROP participant Iraira Rivera Rojas works in the Marelli Lab in CEE.

Throughout the duration of the mini-UROP, participants attended three workshops led by Jared Berezin , the manager of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Communication Lab (CEE Comm Lab). The communication lab is a free resource to undergraduates, graduates, and postdocs in the CEE community, providing one-on-one coaching and interactive workshops. Held on Fridays during IAP, the workshops focused on visual and oral communication strategies to help students contextualize their projects, explain scientific concepts, describe their methodologies, and present their results.

“Students were fortunate to have research mentors in the lab, and my goal was to provide communication mentorship outside of the lab,” says Berezin. “Our weekly workshops focused on scientific communication strategies, but perhaps more importantly I’d prompt them to talk about their projects, ask questions, and brainstorm together. They really embraced the opportunity to foster a supportive peer community, which I think is a core part of the CEE experience.”

Mini-UROP participants present their research to fellow students, staff, and faculty.

Mini-UROP participants present their research to fellow students, staff, and faculty.

A significant challenge students face while completing the program is condensing their research down to a clear and concise two-minute presentation. To assist with this task, the workshops also featured presentations by CEE Communication Fellows Ignacio Arzuaga and Matthew Goss , providing students with a preview of how their own presentations may take shape. Before the final presentation event, students also had the option to meet with Comm Fellows to receive feedback, rehearse their talks, and practice responding to questions about their work.

“The final talks were impressive, and I was proud of the students for approaching both their research and communication challenges with such curiosity and thoughtfulness,” Berezin remarks.

To learn more about the experiences of students and mentors during the 2024 mini-UROP, you can read the full MIT News article .

IMAGES

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VIDEO

  1. Choosing A Research Topic

  2. Write Your Literature Review FAST

  3. How To Write The Methodology For A Qualitative Paper

  4. Writing a Review Paper: What,Why, How?

  5. How To Write A Review Article

  6. Review of Academic English Now: 3 Research Papers In 6 Months

COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Literature Review

    Examples of literature reviews. Step 1 - Search for relevant literature. Step 2 - Evaluate and select sources. Step 3 - Identify themes, debates, and gaps. Step 4 - Outline your literature review's structure. Step 5 - Write your literature review.

  2. What is a Literature Review? How to Write It (with Examples)

    A literature review is a critical analysis and synthesis of existing research on a particular topic. It provides an overview of the current state of knowledge, identifies gaps, and highlights key findings in the literature. 1 The purpose of a literature review is to situate your own research within the context of existing scholarship ...

  3. How to write a review paper

    Include this information when writing up the method for your review. 5 Look for previous reviews on the topic. Use them as a springboard for your own review, critiquing the earlier reviews, adding more recently published material, and pos-sibly exploring a different perspective. Exploit their refer-ences as another entry point into the literature.

  4. How to Write an Article Review (with Sample Reviews)

    Identify the article. Start your review by referring to the title and author of the article, the title of the journal, and the year of publication in the first paragraph. For example: The article, "Condom use will increase the spread of AIDS," was written by Anthony Zimmerman, a Catholic priest. 4.

  5. How to Write a Peer Review

    Think about structuring your review like an inverted pyramid. Put the most important information at the top, followed by details and examples in the center, and any additional points at the very bottom. Here's how your outline might look: 1. Summary of the research and your overall impression. In your own words, summarize what the manuscript ...

  6. What is a review article?

    A review article can also be called a literature review, or a review of literature. It is a survey of previously published research on a topic. It should give an overview of current thinking on the topic. And, unlike an original research article, it will not present new experimental results. Writing a review of literature is to provide a ...

  7. How to write a superb literature review

    One of my favourite review-style articles 3 presents a plot bringing together data from multiple research papers (many of which directly contradict each other). This is then used to identify broad ...

  8. How to write the literature review of your research paper

    The main purpose of the review is to introduce the readers to the need for conducting the said research. A literature review should begin with a thorough literature search using the main keywords in relevant online databases such as Google Scholar, PubMed, etc. Once all the relevant literature has been gathered, it should be organized as ...

  9. Writing a Literature Review Research Paper: A step-by-step approach

    A literature review is a surveys scholarly articles, books and other sources relevant to a particular. issue, area of research, or theory, and by so doing, providing a description, summary, and ...

  10. How to write a review paper

    Writing the Review. 1Good scientific writing tells a story, so come up with a logical structure for your paper, with a beginning, middle, and end. Use appropriate headings and sequencing of ideas to make the content flow and guide readers seamlessly from start to finish.

  11. How to review a paper

    How to review a paper. A good peer review requires disciplinary expertise, a keen and critical eye, and a diplomatic and constructive approach. Credit: dmark/iStockphoto. As junior scientists develop their expertise and make names for themselves, they are increasingly likely to receive invitations to review research manuscripts.

  12. Writing a Literature Review

    A literature review can be a part of a research paper or scholarly article, usually falling after the introduction and before the research methods sections. In these cases, the lit review just needs to cover scholarship that is important to the issue you are writing about; sometimes it will also cover key sources that informed your research ...

  13. How to write a good scientific review article

    In addition to writing up research papers, writing review articles is a useful skill to develop early on in your career as a scientist, whether pursuing an academic career path or not. In any field of science, it's important to read widely to keep up to date with the latest developments, and writing a review article encourages you to critically ...

  14. Ten Simple Rules for Writing a Literature Review

    Literature reviews are in great demand in most scientific fields. Their need stems from the ever-increasing output of scientific publications .For example, compared to 1991, in 2008 three, eight, and forty times more papers were indexed in Web of Science on malaria, obesity, and biodiversity, respectively .Given such mountains of papers, scientists cannot be expected to examine in detail every ...

  15. How to Write a Best Review Paper to Get More Citation

    Time needed: 20 days and 7 hours. The systematic procedural steps to write the best review paper are as follows: Topic selection. Select a suitable area in your research field formulate clear objectives, and prepare the specific research hypotheses that are to be explored. Research design.

  16. How to write a review article?

    The fundamental rationale of writing a review article is to make a readable synthesis of the best literature sources on an important research inquiry or a topic. This simple definition of a review article contains the following key elements: The question (s) to be dealt with.

  17. How to Write a Research Paper

    How to Write a Research Paper | A Beginner's Guide. A research paper is a piece of academic writing that provides analysis, interpretation, ... For example, consider Mark Falcoff's 2009 article in The National Review Online, "The Perversion of Language; or, Orwell Revisited," in which he analyzes several common words ("activist ...

  18. How To Write A Research Paper (FREE Template

    We've covered a lot of ground here. To recap, the three steps to writing a high-quality research paper are: To choose a research question and review the literature. To plan your paper structure and draft an outline. To take an iterative approach to writing, focusing on critical writing and strong referencing.

  19. Literature Review: Conducting & Writing

    Literature Review: Conducting & Writing. This guide will provide research and writing tips to help students complete a literature review assignment. Home; Steps for Conducting a Lit Review; Finding "The Literature" Organizing/Writing; APA Style This link opens in a new window;

  20. Writing a good review article

    Tips for writing a good review article. Here are a few practices that can make the time-consuming process of writing a review article easier: Define your question: Take your time to identify the research question and carefully articulate the topic of your review paper. A good review should also add something new to the field in terms of a ...

  21. How to write a good scientific review article

    A good review article provides readers with an in-depth understanding of a field and highlights key gaps and challenges to address with future research. Writing a review article also helps to expand the writer's knowledge of their specialist area and to develop their analytical and communication skills, amongst other benefits. Thus, the ...

  22. Writing a Scientific Review Article: Comprehensive Insights for

    2. Benefits of Review Articles to the Author. Analysing literature gives an overview of the "WHs": WHat has been reported in a particular field or topic, WHo the key writers are, WHat are the prevailing theories and hypotheses, WHat questions are being asked (and answered), and WHat methods and methodologies are appropriate and useful [].For new or aspiring researchers in a particular ...

  23. Research Paper

    The literature review section of a research paper provides an overview of the existing literature on the topic of study. It includes a critical analysis and synthesis of the literature, highlighting the key concepts, themes, and debates. ... natural sciences, and humanities. Writing research papers helps students to develop research skills ...

  24. How to Write a Literature Review for a Research Paper?

    Adequately Contextualize Your Research. The primary purpose of writing a review is to contextualize your research. Therefore, while writing it down, ensure that the material you are incorporating qualifies your topic perfectly. Thus, dig deep to find articles, journals, and texts that can help you provide a solid background to your research.

  25. Reviewing, Revising, Proofreading and Editing

    Graduate level writing involves an iterative process that involves prewriting, writing, submitting, receiving feedback, and revising and editing by using that feedback. ... and has scholarly research properly cited and synthesized into the document. Learning about editing and finding a process that works for you will help you edit all papers to ...

  26. Q&A with Bethany Ao, Editor-in-Chief of the University of Chicago Law

    Law Review is a community of students with a range of legal interests, hobbies, and personalities, which means that on any given day, you can walk into the Joffice and overhear debates on whether paper money is unconstitutional, the merits of semicolons versus em dashes, or which NBA player has the best case for MVP.

  27. CEE Comm Lab helps first-year undergraduates present scientific research

    More from the blog. From Paper to Presentation: Redesigning Existing Figures for Slides January 15, 2024 Scientific figures do not equally suit all contexts. A figure designed for a paper will often be information-dense; multiple panels illustrate multiple ideas, multiple axes and color bars show the impact of numerous variables, annotations highlight specific caveats, and an extensive caption ...