How to Write a Literature review for an article


Review articles are a very important and widely acknowledged form of publication in the academic field. Review articles are highly read, cited, and referenced by other academicians, and therefore raises an author’s reputation and recognition amongst peers.

However, writing a review article is not as easy as it seems. Here are some tips on how to approach a review article.

What value do you add: on the surface, a review article is basically a reporting on the latest literature that is available on the subject of one’s choice. However, a good review article is one that offers some value to its readers. Give serious thought to what sort of review your anticipated audience will want to read. A simple listing or paraphrasing of existing literature does not add any value to a reader. What really adds value to a review article is a perspective, expert analysis, contextualizing existing literature to a broader theme, or some unique qualitative aspect that you offer to a reader.

Type of review article: related to what value you offer is the type of review article you choose to write. A review article maybe just a theoretical exercise, which collates key findings or offerings of other existing literature and based on a theoretical narrative or exposition you want to present. Review articles can also be empirical, which collates key findings of different empirical exercises undertaken by others to present a more holistic picture of a research area.

Follow journal instructions: if you want your manuscript to be accepted by a journal for publication, you first need to figure out what kind of review articles do the journals prefer. Follow author instructions thoroughly, read sample review articles from the journal to understand their focus area, communicate with journal editors on whether they will entertain a review article from you on certain lines.

Choose your literature carefully: choosing the right literature is the key to a good review article. Your coverage must be extensive if not expansive. You have to be up to date not only about existing literature but also about ongoing researches on the topic. You need to have a great grasp of the subject to start with, and your choice of literature must reflect your understanding. It is not just good enough to cover the most cited or canon literature as most would have already read them. You need a mix of traditional understanding, new or cutting-edge developments, and have a balance of content.

Keyword index: you must be acutely aware of the prominent keywords in the field of study and make sure you cover those aspects in your manuscript. A journal will be willing to publish an article if it has the right keywords, and readers too will chance upon your article more often if you have the right keywords.

Most journals only solicit review articles from experienced authors given review articles are complex, but many may entertain unsolicited review articles, provided it fulfills the above-mentioned factors.

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