A Guideline of Writing a Review Paper (or a Review Article)

  1. Good to know about review articles
  2. Elements of a review article
  3. Guidelines for preparing a review article in 18 steps
  4. Examples of high-quality review articles in the plant sciences (to be used in your own work)
  5. References which are used in this Guideline

Good to know about review articles

What is a review article?

-         A critical, constructive analysis of the literature in a specific field through summary, classification, analysis, comparison.

-         A scientific text relying on previously published literature or data. New data from the authors experiments are not presented (with exceptions: some reviews contain new data)

-         A stand-alone publication. Literature reviews which have been selected from master thesis and doctoral thesis (or dissertation) can be submitted.

What is the function of a review article?

-         To organize literature

-         To evaluate literature

-         To identify patterns and trends in the literature

-         To synthesize literature

-         To identify research gaps and recommend new research areas.

Who is the audience of review articles?

-         Experts in specific research areas

-         Students or novice researchers

-         Decision makers

Review articles are targeted or aimed at two groups:

1: Extended explanation of subjects

2: subject- specific language (which are mandatory or compulsory) (e.g through the uses of information boxes or glossaries).

Which types of review article exist?

(based on methodological approach)

1. Narrative review

The studies which have been selected are compared and summarized on the basis of the author’s experience, existing theories and models. Results are based on a qualitative rather than a quantitative level.

2. Best evidence review

A focus on selected studies is combined with systematic methods of study- selection and result exploration.

3. Systematic review

The studies which have been found from various individual researches are analyzed statistically by strict procedures. Meta-Analyses (Meta-Analyses) are used to pool the results of individual studies, (or combine a lot of researches which have been found and analyzed).

Type of review articles based on objective

  1. Status quo review
  2. History review
  3. Issue review
  4. Theory/model review
  1. Status quo review: presentation of most current research for a given topic or field of research.
  2. History review: development of a field of research over time.
  3. Issue review: Investigation of an issue

(i.e. a point of disagreement or a question) in a specific field of research.

4. Theory/model review: Introduction of a new theory or model in a specific field of research.

Based on mandate

(Based on mandate, there are three kinds of review paper)

  1. Invited reviews: experienced researchers are invited.
  2. Commissioned reviews: formal contracts of authors with clients
  3. Unsolicited submissions: researchers develop an idea for review and submit it to journal editors.

How long is a review article?

Review articles vary considerably in length.

Narrative reviews may range between 500 and at last 40000 words (references and everything else included). Systematic reviews are usually shorter with less than 8000 words.

Please pay attention to this tip that rules of review article in AMECJ (Analytical Methods and Environmental Chemistry Journal) is the same as the rules which have been presented by plant science center of University Zurich.

  • Elements of a Review Article

  • Title (its tense is simple present)
  • Abstract (its tense is present perfect or past—except the sentences which show the events that happen every time are had better (or must) written in simple present tense)
  • Introduction (its tense is present perfect or past—except the sentences which show the events that happen every time are had better (or must) written in simple present tense)
  • Body: Material and Methods (including Experimental Procedure)

    -         Body main part of the review article)(its tense is present perfect or past)

  • Conclusions (the tense is present perfect)
  • Acknowledgments and Nomenclatures
  • References
  • Illustrations (concept maps) which are useful and helpful in each review article, but the part of illustration is not necessary or compulsory and mandatory.

Also, you are allowed to insert the part of “results and discussion” between “Material and Methods” and “Conclusion”. It had better be mentioned even the new important tips or findings in the part of “results and discussion”.

Title: In title, the following tips must be paid attention:

a. Function: Helping readers to decide whether they should read the text or not.

b. Elements: *the title must be informative:

- The title has to include important terms.

- It has to indicate that the text is a review article.

-It includes the message of the article.

*The title must be short:

- Keep the title concise.

- A longer subtitle may be an option in case a specification is necessary.

C. Tense: the title should be written in simple present tense. (Based on most journal’s rules which are stated in stated in Elsevier and Springer, the tense of title must be present (simple present)

d. Citations: in title, citations are prohibited or forbidden.

e. Length: The length of title is usually between seven and 16 words (based on Davis’ rules, the length of each title is between eight to 12 words.

f. Question: The title should only be question if this question remains answered at the time of writing.

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