Q: In the introduction of a review article, should I mention the recency of the articles I have reviewed?

Detailed Question -

I am writing a review article. In that, I have included both recent studies and old studies (only six). In the Introduction, should I write that this review will summarize the relevant recent as well as old studies? I have read many reviews, but in those, the authors do not mention anything about whether they have reviewed recent studies, old studies, both, or something along those lines.

1 Answer to this question

Firstly, the “only six” part of your question, we suppose, refers only to the old studies and not the total number of studies. :-)

Coming to your query, avoid writing “this review will summarize the relevant recent as well as old studies”, or anything else on those lines, because it is superfluous. After all, a review is expected to summarize (although it is expected to do a great deal more). Also, rather than splitting the studies into old and recent, see if you can divide them by some milestone (that is, chronologically), before it and after it (such as the discovery of DNA as the material of heredity, widespread availability of cellphones, the successful cloning of Dolly the sheep, or whatever is appropriate to the topic of your review).

Then, there is the question of citations. If you use the Vancouver method (numbered citations), it is not apparent to the reader whether the reference is to a recent source or a dated source. The Harvard method – author(s) and the year of publication – has the advantage that readers can judge the recency of a source for themselves.

Lastly, it is a good practice to mention in the introduction to the review:

  • the range of years covered in the review
  • the method used for searching the relevant literature, and
  • the organization of the review, whether by theme, region, methods adopted, and so on.

Hope that helps. For more information on literature reviews and citation styles, you may find it worthwhile to go through the following resources:

And for help with your literature search, you may consider our own service. Learn more here: Editage Literature Search

All the best for your review!

[With inputs from Yateendra Joshi]