Looking for an efficient way to get an overview of a body of research on your topic? A review article is a great place to start.
A review article provides an analysis of the state of research on a set of related research questions. Review articles often:
- summarize key research findings;
- reference must-read articles;
- describe current areas of agreement as well as controversies and debates;
- point out gaps in knowledge and unanswered questions;
- suggest directions for future research.
You can use a review article to get a better understanding of the existing research on a topic, to identify research questions you would like to explore, and to find relevant sources. A review article’s bibliography often contains references to research articles that have made an impact on the field and advanced understanding of a research topic.
Reading a review article can save you time and give you a more well-rounded and coherent understanding of your topic.
Unlike typical research articles, review articles do not present any original primary research. For this reason, some assignments may not allow you to directly cite a review article in your paper. However, you can still use the article to get a general understanding of the field and to find important primary research articles.
Also note that for most senior theses in the sciences, the proper place to cite a review article is in the first few paragraphs of your introduction. By placing references to a review article in your early intro, you give your reader a place to go for more information if they are unfamiliar with your field.