Tips for writing your first scientific literature review article BY Emily Crawford Emily Crawford often retreated to her apartment rooftop in San Francisco to write her review. Photo courtesy of Matthew Perry.
Search Share A good peer review requires disciplinary expertise, a keen and critical eye, and a diplomatic and constructive approach. Writing a good review requires expertise in the field, an intimate knowledge of research methods, a critical mind, the ability to give fair and constructive feedback, and sensitivity to the feelings of authors on the receiving end.
As a range of institutions and organizations around the world celebrate the essential role of peer review in upholding the quality of published research this week, Science Careers shares collected insights and advice about how to review papers from researchers across the spectrum.
The responses have been edited for clarity and brevity. What do you consider when deciding whether to accept an invitation to review a paper?
I consider four factors: I see it as a tit-for-tat duty: Since I am an active researcher and I submit papers, hoping for really helpful, constructive comments, it just makes sense that I do the same for others. The only other factor I pay attention to is the scientific integrity of the journal.
I would not want to review for a journal that does not offer an unbiased review process. And I'm not going to take on a paper to review unless I have the time.
For every manuscript of my own that I submit to a journal, I review at least a few papers, so I give back to the system plenty. I've heard from some reviewers that they're more likely to accept an invitation to review from a more prestigious journal and don't feel as bad about rejecting invitations from more specialized journals.
That makes things a lot harder for editors of the less prestigious journals, and that's why I am more inclined to take on reviews from them. If I've never heard of the authors, and particularly if they're from a less developed nation, then I'm also more likely to accept the invitation.
I do this because editors might have a harder time landing reviewers for these papers too, and because people who aren't deeply connected into our research community also deserve quality feedback. Finally, I am more inclined to review for journals with double-blind reviewing practices and journals that are run by academic societies, because those are both things that I want to support and encourage.
I will turn down requests if the paper is too far removed from my own research areas, since I may not be able to provide an informed review.
Having said that, I tend to define my expertise fairly broadly for reviewing purposes.
I also consider the journal. I am more willing to review for journals that I read or publish in.
Before I became an editor, I used to be fairly eclectic in the journals I reviewed for, but now I tend to be more discerning, since my editing duties take up much of my reviewing time.
Some journals have structured review criteria; others just ask for general and specific comments. Knowing this in advance helps save time later.
Writing a good review requires expertise in the field, an intimate knowledge of research methods, a critical mind, the ability to give fair and constructive feedback, and sensitivity to the. The amount of work needed to write a scientific literature review must be considered before starting one since the tasks required can overwhelm many if the working method is not the best. Designing and Writing a Scientific Literature Review. Writing a Scientific Paper: LITERATURE CITED Discussion of how to understand and write different sections of a scientific paper. Discussions of how to write Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Data, and .
I almost never print out papers for review; I prefer to work with the electronic version. I always read the paper sequentially, from start to finish, making comments on the PDF as I go along.
I look for specific indicators of research quality, asking myself questions such as: Are the background literature and study rationale clearly articulated? Do the hypotheses follow logically from previous work?
Are the methods robust and well controlled?
Are the reported analyses appropriate? I usually pay close attention to the use—and misuse—of frequentist statistics. Is the presentation of results clear and accessible? To what extent does the Discussion place the findings in a wider context and achieve a balance between interpretation and useful speculation versus tedious waffling?
First, is it well written? That usually becomes apparent by the Methods section. Then, throughout, if what I am reading is only partly comprehensible, I do not spend a lot of energy trying to make sense of it, but in my review I will relay the ambiguities to the author.
I should also have a good idea of the hypothesis and context within the first few pages, and it matters whether the hypothesis makes sense or is interesting.
Then I read the Methods section very carefully. Mostly I am concerned with credibility:your paper. Now, it’s time to write.
A literature review has three main sections: a. the introduction; b. the body, and c. the conclusion.
In your introduction, define or identify the general topic, issue, or area of concern. That is, provide a context for why you’re reviewing the literature.
Instead, a review paper synthesizes the results from several primary literature papers to produce a coherent argument about a topic or focused description of a field. Examples of scientific reviews can be found in.
In this class, you will be required to write a scientific review paper. A secondary research paper or review paper is not a 'book report' or an annotated list of experiments in a particular field, but demands a considerable, complete literature review.5/5(24).
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. The amount of work needed to write a scientific literature review must be considered before starting one since the tasks required can overwhelm many if the working method is not the best.
Designing and Writing a Scientific Literature Review. In this class, you will be required to write a scientific review paper. A secondary research paper or review paper is not a 'book report' or an annotated list of experiments in a particular field, but demands a considerable, complete literature review.5/5(26).