This guide explains each section of a review paper and gives specific information about what should be included in each.
What do you consider when deciding whether to accept an invitation to review a paper?
I consider four factors: whether I'm sufficiently knowledgeable about the topic to offer an intelligent assessment, how interesting I find the research topic, whether I’m free of any conflict of interest, and whether I have the time. If the answer to all four questions is yes, then I’ll usually agree to review.
professor of cognitive neuroscience at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom
I am very open-minded when it comes to accepting invitations to review. 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. So accepting an invitation for me is the default, unless a paper is really far from my expertise or my workload doesn’t allow it. 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.
senior lecturer in work psychology at Loughborough University in the United Kingdom
I'm more prone to agree to do a review if it involves a system or method in which I have a particular expertise. 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.
professor of biology at California State University, Dominguez Hills
I usually consider first the relevance to my own expertise. 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.
professor of public policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta
On the title page include the title, your name, and the date. Your instructor may have additional requirements (such as the course number, etc.) so be sure to follow the guidelines on the assignment sheet. Professional journals may also have more specific requirements for the title page.
An abstract is a brief summary of your review. The abstract should include only the main points of your review. Think of the abstract as a chance for the reader to preview your paper and decide if they want to read on for the details.
The introduction of your review should accomplish three things:
Introduce your topic
- It may sound redundant to "introduce" your topic in the introduction, but often times writer's fail to do so. Let the reader in on background information specific to the topic, define terms that may be unfamiliar to them, explain the scope of the discussion, and your purpose for writing the review.
State your topic's relevance
- Think of your review paper as a statement in the larger conversation of your academic community. Your review is your way of entering into that conversation and it is important to briefly address why your review is relevant to the discussion. You may feel the relevance is obvious because you are so familiar with the topic, but your readers have not yet established that familiarity.
Reveal your thesis to the reader
- The thesis is the main idea that you want to get across to your reader. your thesis should be a clear statement of what you intend to prove or illustrate by your review. By revealing your thesis in the introduction the reader knows what to expect in the rest of the paper.