Writing and publishing a review can increase your own understanding, contribute to the literature, and advance your research career and status.
A good review paper effectively synthesizes and contextualizes the work already done in a scientific field. It critically evaluates such work and often provides a new perspective on the topic, opening new avenues for yourself or others.
Research reviews in a given field are critical, both for researchers and for the advancement of knowledge. Reviews are such valuable investments of your time both for your own sake and for the sake of others. Let’s look into all the benefits a review can deliver, and how to speed up the review-writing and publishing process.
What you’ll learn in this post
• The most common types of review article and which is “easiest” to do.
• Unique ways that writing a review increases your own writing skills and, less obviously adds to other skills.
• The types of critical analysis you’ll apply in coordinating and writing a review.
• How a review boosts your authority, gets you cited, and best of all, helps other researchers.
• How to get guidance from published Edanz experts to help you write your review.
What is a “review”?
The most common types of review articles are
- narrative reviews
- scoping reviews
- and systematic reviews
The narrative review tells a story about the research in a field. It doesn’t, however, usually evaluate the reviewed studies. For this reason, it’s “easier” to do than a scoping or systematic review. A primary goal of the narrative review is to provide an authoritative and convincing argument.
Narrative reviews align with broad topics, such as the impact of a disaster on mental health. The narrative review is based on an exploratory approach. So it’s great for reviewing emerging topics.
The scoping review is a type of synthesis. It’s a good way to understand a specific topic or question. It includes a comprehensive search and covers all types of studies (quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods).
Scoping reviews are good for understanding the bigger picture. This review type provides different perspectives derived from scholarly studies. It’s effective for topics that have already been researched to a certain extent, such as blockchain’s benefits and threats in healthcare.
The systematic review is the most comprehensive type of review. It uses strict inclusion criteria and assesses the quality of reviewed studies using set criteria. Systematic reviews normally address narrowly focused questions. They’re often used in healthcare. For instance, a researcher may be interested in understanding cardiovascular risks associated with COVID-19 among children. Before developing any treatment protocol or intervention, evidence needs to be obtained from several scholarly studies. The systematic review is a good instrument for achieving this.
For a deeper look at the differences among reviews, read this article.
From among these, narrative reviews may be the most common and may be a good place to make your mark. But who do a review? There are plenty of reasons.
Writing a review adds to your own knowledge and skills
Relevant researchers keep up with the latest developments in their fields. Writing a review essentially forces you to do this.
When reviewing, you not only learn about the newest research, but you also get to share opinions on the topic. Writing reviews can help you develop as a writer and improve your critical communication skills.
Research ethics emphasize the importance of maintaining and improving professional competence. So, from the ethical perspective, a good researcher must constantly learn. Writing reviews is a great way to do this. Write more and you’ll become a more knowledgeable and ultimately better researcher.
The scholar–practitioner model also emphasizes the importance of constant self-education. Reading and analyzing scholarly studies is vital for becoming a better professional. If you’re a practitioner, conducting a literature review can improve your qualification and professional skills.
The necessary steps of reading, assessing, and communication will all improve your research skills.
Review writing improves your critical analysis skills
You’re forced to think deeply and critically about the work you’re reviewing. You have to be able to identify the strength and limitations of the work and explain why. A review paper is not simply a summary of the research conducted in a field. Rather, it should critically evaluate the studies conducted and, ideally, provide new perspectives on the topic (this can be especially hard to master, and we offer expert help available if you need it).
Be concise. A review is a sharp and selective summary of the research, not a detailed report.
Be focused. Pay attention to contradictions in the findings of different authors.
Be skeptical. Focus on identifying flaws and limitations.
Researchers use a wide range of critical thinking and analysis skills during the review process. According to Falcione’s taxonomy, critical thinking consists of:
All these skills are extensively used during the literature review process.
The process of conducting a review focuses on solving a problem, which can be taken up in an analysis of recent findings, formulation of a hypothesis, or answering a research question. This is problem-based learning, one of the most effective ways to develop critical thinking and critical analysis skills.
Coordinating and managing a review gives you added skills
Review papers are often long and complex. To write a good one, you’ll need to coordinate and manage a large amount of information. You have to organize your time and keep track of multiple tasks.
You also don’t have to go it alone. By conducting a review with another researcher, you use investigator triangulation. The more researchers, the lower is the risk of bias. And while working with others, you’ll be able to develop coordination and management skills.
Writing a review is, therefore, an excellent way for you to deepen your understanding of a topic and improve your scientific English writing skills, as well as your organization, leadership, and administrative skills.
Helps identify literature gaps (and flaws, and bias)
When writing a review, you’ll need to identify the gaps in the literature. This will help you to identify areas where further research is required.
You can also provide a more accurate perspective on the topic by identifying flaws and biases in the existing research. You should make judgments based on objective criteria. By comparing and contrasting studies, you can identify their limitations, and provide suggestions for future research.
Identification of gaps is a fundamental goal of a literature review process. Literature reviews offer a trajectory for future research. Gap identification is usually also necessary if you want to gain funding.
Your evidencing, and then setting out to address, a gap answers the “so what?” question that any reviewer will ask about your work.
The 12P Method for Systematic Reviews
We’ve squeezed all the steps and stages of a typical systematic review onto one page.
You can print it out A4-sized and use it as a handy checklist, or A3-sized for your laboratory wall. You can even share it with your co-authors.
FREE PDF CHECKLIST12P-SLR-Method-A3-print-v1.10-ENG
Your review prepares you to conduct quantitative or qualitative research
Your initial literature review is vital for gaining an understanding of the existing research on your topic. It must be comprehensive and discerning, because it will help to inform the design of the study and make sure that it’s appropriately structured and focused.
It may help you to:
- Develop your hypothesis
- Frame your research question
- Evaluate your results
- Determine relevance and clinical utility of results
Doing a literature review is time-consuming, but it’s essential to produce high-quality research that has a context.
Review papers are often highly cited. This means that many in your field will read your work and associate your name with the topic. This helps you establish yourself as an expert in your field. You can raise your profile and increase your visibility as a researcher.
Literature reviews may be the best methodological tool for answering specific research questions; so they also have enormous intrinsic value.
Researchers who can summarize, analyze, and synthesize information effectively can establish authority quickly.
Your review will help other researchers in your research area and other areas
Writing scientific reviews helps advance knowledge in a particular field of study. They can provide suggestions for future research for other researchers. Multidisciplinary researchers can also draw off your review for partial ideas and ideas to incorporate.
Reviews stimulate new ideas and directions for future research. Writing them can be a tremendously helpful way to assist other researchers in their efforts to advance knowledge in their field. They accelerate creation of the most valuable scientific knowledge by pointing other researchers toward existing gaps. And that will raise your skills and impact, and advance your career.
And when you need some help with YOUR review
A review increases your skills and impact while contributing to the scientific community. But it can seem intimidating and be hard to just get started, to manage, or to finally get published. Edanz’s research services can guide you through the entire process if you need a helping hand.