A research paper is based on original research. The kind of research may vary depending on your field or the topic (experiments, survey, interview, questionnaire, etc.), but authors need to collect and analyze raw data and conduct an original study. The research paper will be based on the analysis and interpretation of this data.
A review article or review paper is based on other published articles. It does not report original research. Review articles generally summarize the existing literature on a topic in an attempt to explain the current state of understanding on the topic. Review articles can be of three kinds:
- A narrative review explains the existing knowledge on a topic based on all the published research available on the topic.
- A systematic review searches for the answer to a particular question in the existing scientific literature on a topic.
- A meta-analysis compares and combines the findings of previously published studies, usually to assess the effectiveness of an intervention or mode of treatment.
Review papers form valuable scientific literature as they summarize the findings of existing literature. So readers can form an idea about the existing knowledge on a topic without having to read all the published works in the field. Well-written review articles are popular, particularly in the field of medicine and healthcare. Most reputed journals publish review articles. However, you should check the website of the journal you wish to get published in to see if they accept such articles. If published in a good peer-reviewed journal, review articles often have a high impact and receive a lot of citations.
Infographic: 5 differences between a research paper and a review paper