How to Write a Review Article

How to Write a Review Article
Step One: Choose a Good Topic
• Experienced Chemists would likely choose an
area of research they are actively working in
• In Senior Seminar, you find a Chemical
Reviews article from 5-10 years ago that you
are interested in
• You will review a similar literature area as your
Chemical Reviews article, but you will update
the advances in the area since the article was
Step Two: Literature Searching
• In class, we will learn about all of the literature
databases available through the SWOSU Library. Of
particular utility are:
– ISI Web of Science (Science Citation Index)
– SciFinder (American Chemical Society)
• Once your topic is chosen, you will look for “new”
articles (20-50 should be enough) based on
– Topic searches on keywords from your Chem. Rev. article
– Author searches from key references from Chem. Rev.
– “Times Cited” of key articles will lead you to “new” ones
Step Three: Annotated Bibliography
• Once you collect sufficient (20-50) new articles
on your topic you need to read them
• You will make notes and summarize key points
• We will learn how to read scientific papers in
• We will prepare a 10-paper Annotated
• We will prepare 5 article summaries similar to
how discussion of the article would appear in our
finished review for one of the deadlines
Step 4: Choose and Organize the
Articles You Will Include in Your Review
• A minimum of 20 “new” articles go in your review
• Not all of the articles you found will be included
• Group the articles in topic groups. Each topic
group might make up a sub-heading in the review.
– Articles by the same author are often on a similar
subject, which could be part of a “sub-heading”
– A good review might have 3-5 “sub-heading” groups of
articles related to the overall topic
– Organize the sub-headings in a logical order:
chronological, simple to complex, method 1, 2, 3…
Step 5: Write the Introduction
• The introduction specifies what smaller area
of the literature your review will cover
• It begins broadly and then focuses down to
the specific area you will discuss
• It uses concepts from your Chem. Rev. article,
plus ideas from “old references” found in your
Chem Rev. article to frame what comes next
Step 6: Write the Body of the Review
• Write a sub-heading title
• Discuss each paper under the sub-heading in turn
– Describe the new development, method, or result
– Include a figure or table (90% of the time)
– Use transition sentences as you move from one article to
the next
• Move to the next sub-heading area
– Include a transition paragraph at the end of the last subheading or the beginning of this on
• Repeat until all papers have been discussed
• A good review adds the author’s thoughts, insights,
and perspective to the accumulating narrative
Step 7: Edit, Conclude, References
• Don’t turn in the paper until you know it is good
– Go to the Writing Center for help
– Read over it and improve grammar, usage, etc…
• Add a conclusion of summary that ties it together
– What did you learn of importance?
– What do you want your readers to get out of this?
• Make sure references are in ACS Format
– 20 “new references” are required (can be more)
– Separate references by “old” and “new”

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