Writing a review article is a fantastic way to strengthen your scientific skills. If the concept of writing a review makes you nervous, or if you’re stuck in the middle of one, maybe this post can help you get started – remember, you’re growing as an expert in your domain and are the ideal person to write the review! This is a terrific approach to improve your writing skills, as well as your ability to read quickly, search the literature, and synthesize a vast amount of data: in other words, a scientist’s toolkit. Review articles are becoming increasingly important in the field of health sciences. Review articles are divided into 2 categories as narrative, and systematic reviews. Narrative reviews are written in an easy-to-read format and allow for a wide range of subject matter evaluations. A systematic review, on the other hand, conducts a very extensive and comprehensive literature survey on the chosen topic. Systematic reviews are regarded as gold standard articles since they are the product of a more extensive literature survey with a lower level of author bias. There are two types of systematic reviews: qualitative and quantitative. In both of them, a thorough review of the literature is carried out. In quantitative reviews, however, study data is gathered and statistically assessed (ie. meta-analysis). There are significant distinctions between systematic and non-systematic reviews, which derive mostly from the methodology utilized to describe the literature sources. A non-systematic review is based on sifting through years of papers based on recommendations from peers, but a systematic review is based on sifting through and finding the best possible research that would respond to the predetermined questions at the outset of the review.
Main steps involved in the review article writing
- Formulation of the research question
- Literature search
- Disclosure of studies
- Evaluation of its quality
Choose the topic and outline
When you begin reading, you will feel tempted to include every bit of knowledge ever published. Obviously, this isn’t possible. So, define your scope from the onset. Perhaps you, a co-worker, or your mentor were asked to write about a specific subject. Alternatively, perhaps you’re studying a subject for which there are no recent or relevant reviews. Once you’ve decided on a topic, attempt to be as clear as possible about the area of the field you’ll be looking into. If it’s a well-researched field, you may need to get specific to make sure your article doesn’t turn into a textbook.
When I first started I thought I would read a bunch of papers and then feel ready to write. What occurred was that each paper taught me a few things while simultaneously highlighting a few hundred topics I was unaware of. I would read a paper, panic, and then download a lot of other papers instead of reading a paper and getting my bearings. Typically lists and pictures are the most useful parts of reviews. These could be in the form of figures/schematics or tables. And don’t forget to include citations so that people can go back and read the original reference for the data.
Tips to writers
- Don’t worry about grammar or formatting or continuity. Also, don’t worry if you feel like you don’t still know enough about the topic.
- Overall, writing a review can be overwhelming and challenging.
- Don’t overthink things, in my opinion. “You just have to do it,” my adviser advised. Someone needs to write the piece at the end of the day, and that someone is you. So go ahead and take action!
- I’ll also repeat what many other creative people have said about writing: you never know what it’ll look like when it’s finished, but you always know what it looks like when it isn’t. So, as long as it doesn’t look done, just keep working on it.
- Remember that this is simply a review piece, not your life’s work, so get it done. Best wishes.