Q: How do I start planning for and write a review paper?

Detailed Question -

I don't know how to write a review paper.

1 Answer to this question

There are two parts to your question, planning for the paper and then writing the paper. I shall respond to them in sequence. Also, I am not sure of the type of review article you are writing: literature review, systematic review, or meta-analysis. A literature review is a review of existing literature on a particular topic. A systematic review is a thorough and detailed review of existing literature that is designed to address a specific research question. A meta-analysis uses statistical methods to integrate estimates of effect from relevant studies that are independent but similar and summarize them.

A review paper in general involves a detailed analysis of various existing literature around a particular topic or area.

Planning a review paper

Planning your review paper can sometimes take longer than writing your paper. In fact, if you plan properly and conduct a thorough literature review, writing the paper will actually be smoother and faster. The first thing you’ll need to do is narrow down to a particular topic or question. Then, you’ll need to identify the literature you plan to go through. Note that this could include grey, or unpublished, literature in the case of a pure review paper. Then, you will need to specify the methods for the review, such as the criteria for inclusion and exclusion. Another aspect of planning is deciding how to present the literature, whether chronologically, thematically, topically, and so on.

Writing a review paper

When writing, you will first need to introduce the topic and set the context through a background. Then, you will discuss the literature that you have gone through at length, including important findings. Finally, you will summarize the review and, if needed, suggest questions or areas for further exploration. This is just a broad outline of how to write the paper. You will need to structure it similar to a research paper. So, you can follow the IMRAD structure. Finally, you will also need to list all references.

For more information on how to write a review paper, you may refer to these resources: