Answered By: Library Staff
Last Updated: Mar 22, 2016     Views: 10334

1. What are Review Articles?

Review articles are written to summarize the current state of the research on a particular topic. Ideally, the writer searches for everything relevant to the topic, and then sorts it all out into a coherent view of the “state of the art” as it now stands. Review articles will teach you about:

  • the main people working in a field
  • recent major advances and discoveries
  • significant gaps in the research
  • current debates
  • ideas of where research might go next

Many professors suggest that students look for review articles at the beginning of a research project. Review articles will identify key research that has already been done and provide you with a bibliography of articles and other materials related to your topic.

The use of review articles is more common in the sciences than in other disciplines.

Review articles are not the same as "peer reviewed journals" or "book reviews". However most review articles will have undergone peer review.

2. Find Review Articles

Many databases provide the ability to limit your search to specific document types such as review articles. Enter your keywords on the database search screen, then look for a section with LIMITS, then look for DOCUMENT TYPE or ARTICLE TYPE (or a similar phrase).

In the DOCUMENT TYPE menu select REVIEW or LITERATURE REVIEW. The terminology might vary slightly from database to database. Here are examples from several databases:

Biological Abstracts on EBSCOhost
Find LIMIT TO in left column > SHOW MORE > DOCUMENT TYPE > LITERATURE REVIEW

Limit to review articles in Biological Abstracts

SciFinder
Select REFINE tab in left column > DOCUMENT TYPE(S) > REVIEW

Limit to review articles in SciFinder

PubMed
Left Column > Article Types > Review

PubMed document type limit

Web of Science
On Search Results screen look for REFINE RESULTS in left column
DOCUMENT TYPE > REVIEW

screen shot from Web of Science

This guide is based on What's A "Review Article?" University of Texas.

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