How to write a scientific review paper

This blog post aims to guide early-career researchers on how they can write a scientific review paper in a better way. We will also be providing a general format for a scientific review paper. Moreover, we will provide a list of sample review papers published in top impact factor journals.

And at the end of this post, we will be providing a list of research journals that publish review papers.

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Writing a scientific literature review paper

In the academic world, publishing research results or key findings is the best way of communicating research to others. The research findings can be published in journals, book chapters, or through conference proceedings.

There are different ways of publishing articles in a journal. This mainly includes original research articles, review papers, perspective papers, short communications, and letters.  A scientific review paper is commonly known as a literature review paper. It is basically a summary of published research articles.

Types of research articles: Check them one by one

Scientific review papers give an overview of already published research results. These review articles can be written on different subjects, including engineering, life sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities, by selecting particular or specific topics. It will help in carrying the forward chain of research. With the help of review articles, one can get an idea of all the recent/current happenings on a specific topic. Scientific review articles are written to identify the best methodology for performing experiments. It helps in making a proper research plan.

Importance of writing a scientific review article

  1. To identify the critical observations and research gaps,
  2. To design and formulate a hypothesis,
  3. To identify the best research methodology,
  4. To explain the benefits of choosing a research topic

Structure of a review paper

  • Title
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Body
  • Discussion/Conclusion
  • References

Steps to writing a Scientific Review Paper or Article?

Following are the different steps that one needs to follow while writing a good review article:

Identify the scope of the article

Generally, review articles are considered best for improving the writing skills of beginners or first-year Ph.D. students. Before starting to write the article, the researcher should identify the scope of the research article. He/she should make sure the review article will answer the questions related to the current research on a specific subject. The review article should help in a deep understanding of the selected topic. It should clearly explain both the advantages and disadvantages of any particular method.

length of a review article

It should be written in approximately 11000–16000 words in about 20-32 pages. Generally, the length of review papers is greater than the original research articles. However, the word limit of the article may vary from journal to journal. Few journals accept review articles of less than 10,000 words. The review article should include a critical evaluation of the existing data or published research results. It should be written in a systematic manner.

Title, abstract for the article

The title of the review article should include the terms like comprehensive review, critical review, challenges and innovations, and A review on the particular topic. It should be too long or too short. The title should be simple, concise, and clear. The abstract should be written in about 200-250 words. It should include 5-6 keywords.

Literature Review

In order to get information about various published articles, the researcher can use different online databases. Google Scholar, Research Gate, and Science Direct have commonly used databases for searching the literature. These databases are easy to access and free to use. One can search, download and save the articles for further use. After getting the required information, the researcher has to identify the research gaps in the literature studies. Generally, it is advisable to refer to at least 60-70 original research papers, for writing a good review paper. The literature review section mainly helps in understanding the following.

  1. What has been done so far?
  2. What are the problems with the current methodology?
  3. How can the existing problems be solved?


The introduction should be written approximately 800-1500 words, with a maximum of 1-2 pages. It should be written with the general public in mind. The introduction gives background information on any selected research topic. The introduction should be able to answer the following questions.

  • What is the purpose of writing this review paper?
  • What are the different existing methodologies in literary studies?
  • What is the novelty of your review paper?

Data Collection

After selecting the appropriate title for writing the paper, data should be collected from various sources. This is the most important part of the literature review process. The data can be collected either quantitatively or qualitatively. The data for the already published research results can be collected in the form of tables and figures. Generally, for a review paper, it is advisable to have at least 5-6 tables and figures. The last column of the table should include references, highlighting the name of the researcher who has done the research study.

Data Analysis

The collected data should be analyzed very carefully in a stepwise manner. With the help of data analysis only, discussions and conclusions can be written. The data can be analyzed either digitally or manually. The digital data can be analyzed through different software such as Matlab, Simpapro, machine learning, GIS, and remote sensing depending upon the requirements. The important experimental results from recent papers should be described in detail. This includes time and duration, chemicals, reagents, instruments, and equipment that are required to perform the experiment. The time and duration of the experiments may differ from methodology to methodology. Different researchers use different research methodologies for carrying out experiments. Usually, it is advisable to repeat the experiments 3 times for getting optimum results.


The conclusions should be written at the end of the review paper. It should not be longer than 500 words. It should be written in a brief manner, in 1 or 2 paragraphs. The conclusions should be able to highlight the significant and important published research results. The scientific review paper should explain how further research can be carried out with the help of existing methodologies.

List of journals accepting review articles

  1. Renewable and sustainable energy reviews.
  2. current opinion on the environment and health.
  3. Annual Review of Physiology.
  4. Computer Science Reviews.
  5. IEEE Reviews in Biomedical Engineering.
  6. Case studies in construction materials.

We hope that the blog post on “writing a scientific review paper” will help you.

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