Western Libraries

Review Articles: A very brief introduction

Need help finding resources? Ask your librarian.

Email us with questions or suggestions on more Videos & How-Tos.

Review Articles: A very brief introduction

Brought to you by the Allyn and Betty Taylor Library

What is a review article, anyway?

It is an attempt to compile, summarize, synthesize, and evaluate primary research articles on a specific topic.

But what does it do?

It compiles articles that are a good fit for the topic. A great review article includes relevant research from all sides of an issue. It summarizes the research findings. It synthesizes or makes connections between research articles, notes differences between results, and shows the relationship between articles. It evaluates gaps in the research and may also discuss why research results are different. A review article can also guide you to important published literature on your topic.

Why are review articles important and why might I use them?

They provide a great overview of what's out there already. They also provide great background information on a specific topic. They show gaps in research. Connect research from different people and places and point to important scholars or research on the topic.

So review articles can be really helpful. How do I find them?

Look for articles with either review or literature review in the title or abstract. Limit your database search results to review articles only. Look for articles without a literature review or a methods section. Most review articles won't have these because the review article IS the literature review.

Wow, review articles seem like the best thing out there.

Yes, but there are some things you should keep in mind. Review articles include only the most important research on a topic, but not all research as with a systematic review. Review articles are considered secondary sources because they present no original research. If you need primary sources or original research, review articles might not be for you.