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A review article is an article that summarizes the current state of understanding on a topic. A review article surveys and summarizes previously published studies, instead of reporting new facts or analysis. Review articles are sometimes also called survey articles or, in news publishing, overview articles. Academic publications that specialize in review articles are known as review journals.
Review articles teach 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
Review articles in academic journals analyze or discuss research previously published by others, rather than reporting new experimental results. An expert's opinion is valuable, but an expert's assessment of the literature can be more valuable. When reading individual articles, readers could miss features that are apparent to an expert clinician-researcher. Readers benefit from the expert's explanation and assessment of the validity and applicability of individual studies.
Review articles come in the form of literature reviews and, more specifically, systematic reviews; both are a form of secondary literature. Literature reviews provide a summary of what the authors believe are the best and most relevant prior publications. Systematic reviews determine an objective list of criteria, and find all previously published original papers that meet the criteria; they then compare the results presented in these papers.
Some academic journals likewise specialize in review of a field; they are known as review journals.
The concept of "review article" is separate from the concept of peer-reviewed literature. A review article, even one that is requested or "peer-invited", will be either peer-reviewed or non-peer-reviewed depending on how submissions are treated.
Writing review articles can be a popular task among students. At times, teachers from schools and universities assign this task
According to a 2021 study in the American Sociological Review, "papers cited by formal review articles generally experience a dramatic loss in future citations. Typically, the review gets cited instead of the specific articles mentioned in the review." The study identifies an exception to this trend: articles that are characterized by the review as being bridges between clusters of scholarship tend to get disproportionate future attention.
- Case series, sometimes called a clinical review because it reviews or summarizes the records for a series of patients at a single medical clinic
- Living review
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