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Library Research Guides

Publishing in the Sciences

Key steps and resources for publishing research articles in Science areas.

What You'll Find on this Page

This page features a discussion of each of the following components of writing a scientific review article:

  • Choosing a topic and finding articles
  • What questions to answer in your review
  • Which sections to include and tips for writing them

Other tips and tricks are featured underneath this box.

Tips on Forming a Thesis

  • Make sure your thesis is specific and addresses a question/problem in the field
  • Make sure it is relevant to all of the articles you include
  • Be certain that it is clearly stated in the abstract, introduction, and conclusion

Tips for Writing Review Articles

A note on reviews

Reviews are usually published by experts in the field. Being familiar with the structure and purpose of reviews will help you navigate scientific literature more confidently, but remember that it is not likely you will be writing a review for publication in a journal until well into your career. Sometimes, journal editors will invite scientists to write a review for their journal.

Choosing a Topic

If you need to write a review article but don't know where to start, keep some of these tips in mind.

  • Choose a topic that is not too broad and not too narrow for the type of review you would like to write. If you want to write a shorter review, pick a narrower topic. But if you are going to be writing a longer review or you'd like to explore a more general area of interest, choose a topic that is wide enough so that you will be able to find enough articles to discuss.
  • Pick something you're interested in and that you have experience researching. A review is meant to be a survey of the current state of a field - and the less you know about a field or topic at the outset, the more work you're going to have to do in order to have an authoritative voice that can provide insight about the research that has been done.
  • Choose a topic that will be interesting to others whether it's currently receiving a lot of attention, it's a controversial topic, or it's in a well-established field. You want to contribute to the knowledge base and understanding of other scientists so make sure it centers around a topic that has a good-sized audience!

Information to Consider in Your Review: What to Write About

When doing research for your review, here is a list of questions to consider as you read through articles to potentially include:

  • What is the thesis or problem being addressed in this paper? 
  • What are the strengths and limitations of the study? Is there a better way to answer the research question?
  • How does the author approach the study - from a theoretical, experimental, interpretive, or clinical (etc.) standpoint? Did they choose the best approach?
  • Is the author using an assumed theoretical framework such as, for example, psychoanalytic or developmental? How does this affect the conclusions they draw? 
  • How does the author engage with other literature in the field? Is literature that both contradicts and supports his/her findings mentioned? 
  • Did the researchers choose appropriate methods of experimentation and data analysis for the research question? 
  • Do you think that the conclusions they draw based upon the data they present are valid and reasonable? Or are there gaps in the logic or assumptions being made?
  • Does this particular research study contribute to the knowledge base of the field around which you're centering your review? Is it worth including in your discussion, and does it fit your main thesis? 

Adapted from the UCLA Undergraduate Science Journal.

Structure of Your Review

Your review should follow the following structure:

  • Abstract
    • Write this last
    • A summary of your main thesis and the studies you examine in your review
  • Introduction
    • Introduce your topic
    • Outline what you will discuss throughout the review
    • Frame the paper with your thesis
    • Tell your audience why it is important that you reviewed the literature in your topic area
  • Body
    • Can take different forms depending on your topic
    • Break it up into sections if this is helpful (i.e. if you are studying three different methodologies, then you can break your body into three main sections)
    • Go through all of the literature in detail, in an organized fashion
  • Discussion/Conclusion
    • Restate your thesis
    • Wrap up your review by drawing everything together and making sure it is clear what conclusions you draw about your topic or field of study based on the research studies you read and analyzed.
  • References
    • Make sure your references are formatted correctly and all present
    • This paper is all about the references! Cite everything that you discuss. For tips on when and how to cite, visit the next page on the drop-down menu under "Writing in the Sciences!"

Adapted from the UCLA Undergraduate Science Journal.