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What is a review article?

Learn how to write a review article.

What is a review article? A review article can also be called a literature review, or a review of literature. It is a survey of previously published research on a topic. It should give an overview of current thinking on the topic. And, unlike an original research article, it will not present new experimental results.

Writing a review of literature is to provide a critical evaluation of the data available from existing studies. Review articles can identify potential research areas to explore next, and sometimes they will draw new conclusions from the existing data.

Why write a review article?

To provide a comprehensive foundation on a topic.

To explain the current state of knowledge.

To identify gaps in existing studies for potential future research.

To highlight the main methodologies and research techniques.

Did you know? 

There are some journals that only publish review articles, and others that do not accept them.

Make sure you check the  aims and scope  of the journal you’d like to publish in to find out if it’s the right place for your review article.

How to write a review article

Below are 8 key items to consider when you begin writing your review article.

Check the journal’s aims and scope

Make sure you have read the aims and scope for the journal you are submitting to and follow them closely. Different journals accept different types of articles and not all will accept review articles, so it’s important to check this before you start writing.

Define your scope

Define the scope of your review article and the research question you’ll be answering, making sure your article contributes something new to the field. 

As award-winning author Angus Crake told us, you’ll also need to “define the scope of your review so that it is manageable, not too large or small; it may be necessary to focus on recent advances if the field is well established.” 

Finding sources to evaluate

When finding sources to evaluate, Angus Crake says it’s critical that you “use multiple search engines/databases so you don’t miss any important ones.” 

For finding studies for a systematic review in medical sciences,  read advice from NCBI . 

Writing your title, abstract and keywords

Spend time writing an effective title, abstract and keywords. This will help maximize the visibility of your article online, making sure the right readers find your research. Your title and abstract should be clear, concise, accurate, and informative. 

For more information and guidance on getting these right, read our guide to writing a good abstract and title  and our  researcher’s guide to search engine optimization . 

Introduce the topic

Does a literature review need an introduction? Yes, always start with an overview of the topic and give some context, explaining why a review of the topic is necessary. Gather research to inform your introduction and make it broad enough to reach out to a large audience of non-specialists. This will help maximize its wider relevance and impact. 

Don’t make your introduction too long. Divide the review into sections of a suitable length to allow key points to be identified more easily.

Include critical discussion

Make sure you present a critical discussion, not just a descriptive summary of the topic. If there is contradictory research in your area of focus, make sure to include an element of debate and present both sides of the argument. You can also use your review paper to resolve conflict between contradictory studies.

What researchers say

Angus Crake, researcher

As part of your conclusion, include making suggestions for future research on the topic. Focus on the goal to communicate what you understood and what unknowns still remains.

Use a critical friend

Always perform a final spell and grammar check of your article before submission. 

You may want to ask a critical friend or colleague to give their feedback before you submit. If English is not your first language, think about using a language-polishing service.

Find out more about how  Taylor & Francis Editing Services can help improve your manuscript before you submit.

What is the difference between a research article and a review article?

Before you submit your review article….

Complete this checklist before you submit your review article:

Have you checked the journal’s aims and scope?

Have you defined the scope of your article?

Did you use multiple search engines to find sources to evaluate?

Have you written a descriptive title and abstract using keywords?

Did you start with an overview of the topic?

Have you presented a critical discussion?

Have you included future suggestions for research in your conclusion?

Have you asked a friend to do a final spell and grammar check?

writing of review article

Expert help for your manuscript

writing of review article

Taylor & Francis Editing Services  offers a full range of pre-submission manuscript preparation services to help you improve the quality of your manuscript and submit with confidence.

Related resources

How to edit your paper

Writing a scientific literature review

writing of review article

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  • Critical Reviews

How to Write an Article Review

Last Updated: August 16, 2023 References Approved

This article was co-authored by Jake Adams . Jake Adams is an academic tutor and the owner of Simplifi EDU, a Santa Monica, California based online tutoring business offering learning resources and online tutors for academic subjects K-College, SAT & ACT prep, and college admissions applications. With over 14 years of professional tutoring experience, Jake is dedicated to providing his clients the very best online tutoring experience and access to a network of excellent undergraduate and graduate-level tutors from top colleges all over the nation. Jake holds a BS in International Business and Marketing from Pepperdine University. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 83 testimonials and 91% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 2,986,273 times.

An article review is both a summary and an evaluation of another writer's article. Teachers often assign article reviews to introduce students to the work of experts in the field. Experts also are often asked to review the work of other professionals. Understanding the main points and arguments of the article is essential for an accurate summation. Logical evaluation of the article's main theme, supporting arguments, and implications for further research is an important element of a review . Here are a few guidelines for writing an article review.

Education specialist Alexander Peterman recommends: "In the case of a review, your objective should be to reflect on the effectiveness of what has already been written, rather than writing to inform your audience about a subject."

Things You Should Know

  • Read the article very closely, and then take time to reflect on your evaluation. Consider whether the article effectively achieves what it set out to.
  • Write out a full article review by completing your intro, summary, evaluation, and conclusion. Don't forget to add a title, too!
  • Proofread your review for mistakes (like grammar and usage), while also cutting down on needless information.

Preparing to Write Your Review

Image titled Write an Article Review Step 1

  • Article reviews present more than just an opinion. You will engage with the text to create a response to the scholarly writer's ideas. You will respond to and use ideas, theories, and research from your studies. Your critique of the article will be based on proof and your own thoughtful reasoning.
  • An article review only responds to the author's research. It typically does not provide any new research. However, if you are correcting misleading or otherwise incorrect points, some new data may be presented.
  • An article review both summarizes and evaluates the article.

Image titled Write an Article Review Step 2

  • Summarize the article. Focus on the important points, claims, and information.
  • Discuss the positive aspects of the article. Think about what the author does well, good points she makes, and insightful observations.
  • Identify contradictions, gaps, and inconsistencies in the text. Determine if there is enough data or research included to support the author's claims. Find any unanswered questions left in the article.

Image titled Write an Article Review Step 3

  • Make note of words or issues you don't understand and questions you have.
  • Look up terms or concepts you are unfamiliar with, so you can fully understand the article. Read about concepts in-depth to make sure you understand their full context.

Image titled Write an Article Review Step 4

  • Pay careful attention to the meaning of the article. Make sure you fully understand the article. The only way to write a good article review is to understand the article.

Image titled Write an Article Review Step 5

  • With either method, make an outline of the main points made in the article and the supporting research or arguments. It is strictly a restatement of the main points of the article and does not include your opinions.
  • After putting the article in your own words, decide which parts of the article you want to discuss in your review. You can focus on the theoretical approach, the content, the presentation or interpretation of evidence, or the style. You will always discuss the main issues of the article, but you can sometimes also focus on certain aspects. This comes in handy if you want to focus the review towards the content of a course. [7] X Research source
  • Review the summary outline to eliminate unnecessary items. Erase or cross out the less important arguments or supplemental information. Your revised summary can serve as the basis for the summary you provide at the beginning of your review.

Image titled Write an Article Review Step 6

  • What does the article set out to do?
  • What is the theoretical framework or assumptions?
  • Are the central concepts clearly defined?
  • How adequate is the evidence?
  • How does the article fit into the literature and field?
  • Does it advance the knowledge of the subject?
  • How clear is the author's writing? [8] X Research source Don't: include superficial opinions or your personal reaction. Do: pay attention to your biases, so you can overcome them.

Writing the Article Review

Image titled Write an Article Review Step 7

  • For example, in MLA , a citation may look like: Duvall, John N. "The (Super)Marketplace of Images: Television as Unmediated Mediation in DeLillo's White Noise ." Arizona Quarterly 50.3 (1994): 127-53. Print.

Image titled Write an Article Review Step 9

  • For example: The article, "Condom use will increase the spread of AIDS," was written by Anthony Zimmerman, a Catholic priest.

Image titled Write an Article Review Step 10

  • Your introduction should only be 10-25% of your review. [12] X Research source
  • End the introduction with your thesis. Your thesis should address the above issues. For example: Although the author has some good points, his article is biased and contains some misinterpretation of data from others’ analysis of the effectiveness of the condom. [13] X Research source www.richard.jewell.net/WforC/WRITEREAD/CritReview/samples.htm

Image titled Write an Article Review Step 11

  • Use direct quotes from the author sparingly.
  • Review the summary you have written. Read over your summary many times to ensure that your words are an accurate description of the author's article.

Image titled Write an Article Review Step 12

  • Support your critique with evidence from the article or other texts.
  • The summary portion is very important for your critique. You must make the author's argument clear in the summary section for your evaluation to make sense. [15] X Research source
  • Remember, this is not where you say if you liked the article or not. You are assessing the significance and relevance of the article. [16] X Research source
  • Use a topic sentence and supportive arguments for each opinion. For example, you might address a particular strength in the first sentence of the opinion section, followed by several sentences elaborating on the significance of the point.

Image titled Write an Article Review Step 13

  • This should only be about 10% of your overall essay.
  • For example: This critical review has evaluated the article "Condom use will increase the spread of AIDS" by Anthony Zimmerman. The arguments in the article show the presence of bias, prejudice, argumentative writing without supporting details, and misinformation. These points weaken the author’s arguments and reduce his credibility. [17] X Research source www.richard.jewell.net/WforC/WRITEREAD/CritReview/samples.htm

Image titled Write an Article Review Step 14

  • Make sure you have identified and discussed the 3-4 key issues in the article. [18] X Research source

Sample Article Reviews

writing of review article

Expert Q&A

Jake Adams

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  • ↑ https://academicskills.anu.edu.au/node/492
  • ↑ http://www.history.vt.edu/undergraduate/article_review.htm
  • ↑ Jake Adams. Academic Tutor & Test Prep Specialist. Expert Interview. 24 July 2020.
  • ↑ http://blog.efpsa.org/2012/09/01/how-to-write-a-good-title-for-journal-articles/
  • ↑ www.richard.jewell.net/WforC/WRITEREAD/CritReview/samples.htm

About This Article

Jake Adams

If you have to write an article review, read through the original article closely, taking notes and highlighting important sections as you read. Next, rewrite the article in your own words, either in a long paragraph or as an outline. Open your article review by citing the article, then write an introduction which states the article’s thesis. Next, summarize the article, followed by your opinion about whether the article was clear, thorough, and useful. Finish with a paragraph that summarizes the main points of the article and your opinions. To learn more about what to include in your personal critique of the article, keep reading the article! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Writing a review article: what to do with my literature review

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Review articles allow the readers to get a landscape view of a topic, but readers can also use the collection of references cited in a review article to dig deeper into a topic. Thus, they are valuable resources to consult. Well written review articles are often highly cited and could increase the visibility and reputation of the authors.

Decisions to make before starting to write a review article

It might be tempting to consider adapting a literature review, that is part of an article, proposal or dissertation, into a published review article. Such a literature review can be used as a starting point to build a review article upon. However, a literature review often does not follow the quality criteria of a formal review article or specific types of reviews and therefore should be reworked based on the steps illustrated in this editorial.

Types of review articles suitable for chemistry education research and practice

Perspectives, narrative and integrative reviews, systematic reviews, meta-analyses, appropriate ways of approaching a (systematic) review – writing a review step-by-step, step 1. topic and research question.

After the topic is chosen, it may be helpful to narrow the review down to a clear aim or question that the review seeks to answer. This helps to facilitate the selection of the publications to be reviewed. In addition to the topic, the author should seek to clarify the aim of the review by identifying the likely audience for such a review and how these individuals would benefit from this particular review. Review articles should explicitly mention the nature and scope of the intended review, as well as making a case for who would benefit from the review and how they would benefit.

Step 2. Determine the search and selection criteria

Step 3. inclusion or exclusion of publications, step 4. synthesis of results, step 5. check for clarity and bias, how should review articles be cited as a reference in cerp manuscripts, reflections on the impact of a review article.

One can raise the question of whether a review article is actually supportive or harmful for the original articles included ( Ketcham and Crawford, 2007 ). Authors tend to cite a review article more often compared to original work, thus lowering the number of citations for the respective articles. However, on the other hand, if studies are included and discussed in a review, readers who would like to learn more or access the original perspectives tend to download, read and possibly cite them as well. The benefits of publishing review articles clearly outweigh any potential shortcomings, and their scarcity in the field of chemistry education opens up a venue for publication calls.

  • Alfieri L., Nokes-Malach T. J. and Schunn C. D., (2013), Learning Through Case Comparisons: A Meta-Analytic Review, Educ. Psychol. , 48 , 87–113.
  • Bisra K., Liu Q., Nesbit J. C., Salimi F. and Winne P. H., (2018), Inducing Self-Explanation: a Meta-Analysis, Educ. Psychol. Rev. , 30 , 703–725.
  • Castro-Alonso J. C., de Koning B. B., Fiorella L. and Paas F., (2021), Five Strategies for Optimizing Instructional Materials: Instructor- and Learner-Managed Cognitive Load, Educ. Psychol. Rev. ,  DOI: 10.1007/s10648-021-09606-9 .
  • Flaherty A. A., (2020), A review of affective chemistry education research and its implications for future research, Chem. Educ. Res. Pract. , 21 , 698–713.
  • Freeman S., Eddy S. L., McDonough M., Smith M. K., Okoroafor N., Jordt H. and Wenderoth M. P., (2014), Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. , 111 , 8410–8415.
  • Kahveci A., (2013), in Tsaparlis G. and Sevian H. (ed.), Concepts of Matter in Science Education , Dordrecht: Springer, pp. 249–278.
  • Ketcham C. M. and Crawford J. M., (2007), The impact of review articles, Lab. Invest. , 87 , 1174–1185.
  • Rahman M. T. and Lewis S. E., (2020), Evaluating the evidence base for evidence-based instructional practices in chemistry through meta-analysis, J. Res. Sci. Teach. , 57 , 765–693.
  • Taber K. S., (2014), The significance of implicit knowledge for learning and teaching chemistry, Chem. Educ. Res. Pract. , 15 , 447–461.
  • Taylor and Francis, (2021), What is a review article?, https://authorservices.taylorandfrancis.com/publishing-your-research/writing-your-paper/how-to-write-review-article/.
  • Theobald E. J., Hill M. J., Tran E., Agrawal S., Arroyo E. N., Behling S., Chambwe N., Cintrón D. L., Cooper J. D., Dunster G., Grummer J. A., Hennessey K., Hsiao J., Iranon N., Jones L., Jordt H., Keller M., Lacey M. E., Littlefield C. E., Lowe A., Newman S., Okolo V., Olroyd S., Peecook B. R., Pickett S. B., Slager D. L., Caviedes-Solis I. W., Stanchak K. E., Sundaravardan V., Valdebenito C., Williams C. R., Zinsli K. and Freeman S., (2020), Active learning narrows achievement gaps for underrepresented students in undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and math, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. , 117 , 6476–6483.

writing of review article

  • Research Process

Writing a good review article

  • 3 minute read

Table of Contents

As a young researcher, you might wonder how to start writing your first review article, and the extent of the information that it should contain. A review article is a comprehensive summary of the current understanding of a specific research topic and is based on previously published research. Unlike research papers, it does not contain new results, but can propose new inferences based on the combined findings of previous research.

Types of review articles

Review articles are typically of three types: literature reviews, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses.

A literature review is a general survey of the research topic and aims to provide a reliable and unbiased account of the current understanding of the topic.

A systematic review , in contrast, is more specific and attempts to address a highly focused research question. Its presentation is more detailed, with information on the search strategy used, the eligibility criteria for inclusion of studies, the methods utilized to review the collected information, and more.

A meta-analysis is similar to a systematic review in that both are systematically conducted with a properly defined research question. However, unlike the latter, a meta-analysis compares and evaluates a defined number of similar studies. It is quantitative in nature and can help assess contrasting study findings.

Tips for writing a good review article

Here are a few practices that can make the time-consuming process of writing a review article easier:

  • Define your question: Take your time to identify the research question and carefully articulate the topic of your review paper. A good review should also add something new to the field in terms of a hypothesis, inference, or conclusion. A carefully defined scientific question will give you more clarity in determining the novelty of your inferences.
  • Identify credible sources: Identify relevant as well as credible studies that you can base your review on, with the help of multiple databases or search engines. It is also a good idea to conduct another search once you have finished your article to avoid missing relevant studies published during the course of your writing.
  • Take notes: A literature search involves extensive reading, which can make it difficult to recall relevant information subsequently. Therefore, make notes while conducting the literature search and note down the source references. This will ensure that you have sufficient information to start with when you finally get to writing.
  • Describe the title, abstract, and introduction: A good starting point to begin structuring your review is by drafting the title, abstract, and introduction. Explicitly writing down what your review aims to address in the field will help shape the rest of your article.
  • Be unbiased and critical: Evaluate every piece of evidence in a critical but unbiased manner. This will help you present a proper assessment and a critical discussion in your article.
  • Include a good summary: End by stating the take-home message and identify the limitations of existing studies that need to be addressed through future studies.
  • Ask for feedback: Ask a colleague to provide feedback on both the content and the language or tone of your article before you submit it.
  • Check your journal’s guidelines: Some journals only publish reviews, while some only publish research articles. Further, all journals clearly indicate their aims and scope. Therefore, make sure to check the appropriateness of a journal before submitting your article.

Writing review articles, especially systematic reviews or meta-analyses, can seem like a daunting task. However, Elsevier Author Services can guide you by providing useful tips on how to write an impressive review article that stands out and gets published!

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Want to Write a Review? Here’s Advice From New York Times Critics.

In four short videos, A.O. Scott, Maya Phillips, Jon Pareles and Jennifer Szalai share with students their tips for writing reviews.

writing of review article

By Callie Holtermann and C. Ross Flatt

Note: Our Student Review Contest is open from Nov. 10 to Dec. 15.

You probably have a slew of opinions on the books, movies, video games and music you love and loathe. With some patience and attention, you can turn these opinions into a piece of written criticism: a review.

Advice from experts might help. To support students who are interested in writing their own reviews, whether for our annual review contest or just for fun, we asked Times critics who work in four different genres to share their advice.

In the four short videos below, you’ll learn more about how to explain your opinion, persuade a reader, consider a work’s context and examine the artist’s intent. For each video, we provide reflection questions to help students apply the advice to their own writing.

Explain your opinion.

A.O. Scott , a chief film critic at The Times, told us that a review should share the writer’s opinion and explain why he or she feels that way. An opinion alone is not enough, he said: “The only way you get anyone else interested in it is if you can explain it.”

Some questions to consider after watching the video:

Think of a work of film, music, art or writing that you reacted to strongly. What is your opinion of that work?

Why do you have that opinion? What evidence could you use to support your opinion?

What other information about the work might be useful to someone else who wants to learn more about it? How could you help an interested reader?

Persuade the reader.

Maya Phillips , a critic at large who reviews theater, poetry and other works of art and culture, stresses that a review is simply a piece of persuasive writing. She urges students who are new to review writing to use their visceral responses to drive their arguments.

Have you ever written a piece of persuasive writing, like an argumentative essay or newspaper column? How did you go about convincing the reader of your opinion?

What does your unique voice sound like? What review topics could be a good match for your preferred language and tone?

Consider a work’s context.

Jon Pareles , the chief pop music critic at The New York Times, told us that when it comes to today’s pop stars, “their stardom isn’t only in their music.” He encourages students to consider not only the work they are reviewing, but how that work fits into the broader cultural landscape.

Think about one work that you would be interested in reviewing (in any of the categories that The Times reviews). What would it mean to do a “close read” of this piece? What small details jump out at you?

Who created the work you chose? What do you know about them? How does their public presentation factor into your opinion of their work?

Try to understand the artist’s intent.

Jennifer Szalai , a nonfiction book critic at The Times, told us that reviewers have a responsibility to be fair to the creators of the work they review. “Fair doesn’t mean boring,” she said, “fair just means that you are trying, as much as possible, to understand what the writer of the book was trying to do.”

What do you think was the goal of the artist who created the work you chose in the last section? How well do you think they accomplished that goal?

Read a New York Times review in any section that interests you. ( Arts , Books , Style and Food are good places to start.) Do you think the review you read was fair to the artist? Why or why not?

If you want to learn more about review writing, we encourage you to explore our review writing unit and enter our Student Review Contest .

Callie Holtermann joined The Learning Network as a senior news assistant in 2020. More about Callie Holtermann

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Basics of Writing Review Articles

Almıla erol.

Adjunct Faculty, Psychiatry & Psychology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA

Evidence-based medicine forms the essence of medical practice in the modern world. No wonder review articles are the mainstay for evidence-based medicine.

Review articles provide a critical summary of the existing literature to explain the current state of scientific evidence on a particular topic. A well-written review article must summarize key research findings, reference must-read articles, describe current areas of agreement as well as controversies and debates, point out gaps in current knowledge, depict unanswered questions, and suggest directions for future research ( 1 ).

During the last decades, there has been a great expansion in the range of review methodologies resulting in many new review types ( 2 , 3 ). In an attempt to classify review types, Sutton et al. defined 48 different review types which they categorized into seven review families: traditional reviews, systematic reviews, review of reviews, rapid reviews, qualitative reviews, mixed method reviews and purpose specific reviews (for the full list of review types please see Sutton et al.) ( 2 ). To date, traditional reviews and systematic reviews have been most widely used in the field of medicine.

Traditional reviews usually cover advances in different aspects of a chosen topic and provide assessment of the subject within a broad spectrum. No formal guidance exists for traditional reviews. However, they have become increasingly more comprehensive and systematic since the emergence of systematic reviews. Narrative review, narrative summary, critical review, integrative review, and state of the art review are examples of traditional reviews ( 2 ).

Systematic reviews adopt a specific aim and a well-defined, rigorous methodology to enlighten a particular question. They usually focus on specific study types such as randomized controlled studies, observational studies, etc. They have well-defined reporting standards and guidance. Systematic reviews provide the highest level of evidence in medical sciences, playing an important role in the development of clinical guidelines ( 4 ). Meta-analysis is the most popular example of quantitative systematic review types.

  • Review articles summarize the current state of evidence on a particular topic
  • Review articles translate the relevance of evidence for readers
  • Independent of the review type, all reviews must have a predefined methodology
  • The methods utilized for the review should be explained clearly in the review paper
  • Review papers should be written in a structured format

Considering the overwhelming number of diverse review types, the initial burden authors face is to choose the review type that matches their purpose best. Despite the continuous rise in the number of review types, there are sources that provide guidance about this issue ( 5 ). Authors are highly recommended to examine and learn about different review methodologies before they decide on their review approach.

International guidelines such as PRISMA ( 6 ), Cochrane ( 7 ), and JBI ( 8 ) provide detailed information about how to conduct reviews starting from the planning and protocol writing phases. The purpose of these international guidelines is to ensure transparent, unbiased, and complete reporting. Although the guidelines are focused on systematic reviews, they can also be used as bases for conducting other types of reviews. PRISMA encourages journal editors and reviewers to use the guideline for evaluation of review papers. PRISMA checklist is available online in different languages including Turkish at www.prisma-statement.org ( 9 ).

No matter what type of review is undertaken, the key points in a review article are to have a predefined methodology which is clearly explained in the text, and to have a structured format. Just like research papers, the most common and convenient practice is to write review papers in “introduction, methods, results, and discussion (IMRaD)” format accompanied by title, abstract, key words, and references.

The title makes the first introductory and is the most important sentence of the review paper. Like research paper titles, it must be brief, informative, and interesting all at the same time. It must contain the key words or their derivatives to increase the discoverability of the article via search engines. In addition, the type of the review should be accurately stated in the title.

The aim of the introduction is to explain why the review is undertaken and to persuade the readers for its necessity. In the introduction section, the authors must mention the latest developments about the subject of concern and explain why a review is needed. It is a good practice to refer to previous review papers on the subject and state what makes the current review different than the previous ones.

The methods section of the review paper should be written detailed enough to prove its adequacy and make it possible to be reconducted including more recent papers in the future. Explicit scientific methods are required for systematic reviews as defined by international guidelines ( 7 – 9 ). Although no guidelines exist for traditional narrative reviews, they too should have a rational methodology explained clearly. The methods section of every review article should state the key words used for the search, data bases screened, and the time frame chosen for the literature search. It should also explain the inclusion and exclusion criteria used for the selection of papers.

The results section should include a flow chart which shows the number of identified, included, and excluded papers along with the reasons for exclusion, as described in PRISMA flow diagram guidelines ( 9 ). Results section should cite and present characteristics and outcomes of each one of the included studies, providing the necessary information to assess their quality, validity, and contribution. The most relevant information about the included articles should be depicted in literature summary tables. They are an essential part of the review article as they provide information at one glance and make the paper more readable. Literature summary tables must contain information about methods, frameworks, strengths, limitations, and conceptual contribution of each article ( 10 ). Oversized tables must be presented as supplementary files.

Discussion section provides a general interpretation of the results and presents expert opinion. Writing a review article is not only about extracting relevant previous work and analyzing them, but also about making synthesis and drawing conclusions. Therefore, providing an objective interpretation of the results and guiding readers for better understanding of the current evidence should form the central part of the discussion. Wherever there is not enough evidence to make objective conclusions, the lack of evidence should be stated instead. Limitations, biases and gaps of the included literature should be discussed along with the limitations of the review process itself. It is critical to discuss the potential impacts of the results for future research and clinical practice.

In conclusion, reviews are objective attempts to examine the current state of evidence on a particular topic and its impacts. A review paper should explain why the review is undertaken, describe the methodology used, introduce the articles included, and provide expert opinion on the evidence achieved in a structured format. High quality reviews are essential in guiding clinical practice and future research along with policy making.

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Six things you should keep in mind when writing a review article

Writing a review article is about more than seizing on an interesting topic and gathering the references.

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Writing a review article is about more than seizing on an interesting topic and gathering the relevant references. It is an opportunity for you to contribute to the development of your field by creating a synthesis of the best resources available and potential new research areas to explore in the future. Done well, a good review article can end up becoming the definitive “go to” guide on a topic, forming the backbone of reading lists and appearing as a reference in countless books and articles globally.

Yet, the key elements for a compelling review article are still a mystery for many researchers, especially those in the early stages of their careers. To help illuminate this phenomenon, Matt Pavlovich and Lindsey Drayton , editors in the Trends reviews journals group with Cell Press, offered their editorial perspective on what they look for in a review in Researcher Academy ’s latest webinar . Below are the key take-aways from the experts.

The most important question you need to ask yourself before proposing or writing a review is whether you have something new to say. A review article should form more than just the sum of its parts: readers should learn something(s) that they couldn’t get just by reading the references. Therefore, make sure you include your point(s) of view including a comparison, critique and assessment of the studies you are reviewing and/or your ideas for future experiments.

You can save yourself a lot of time by reaching out to the editors of the journal in question to see whether or not it’s worth writing a full-length piece for their journals. Doing so also gives editors the opportunity to help shape your idea into something that delivers powerfully for the journal, which also means a higher chance of publication for your paper.

In the proposal, you need to make clear why the topic is important – and why it is important now . You also need to justify why you should write it. You do not necessarily need to explicitly list the reasons, but you should present them in a way that makes the editor understand why they should accept your proposal.

Starting with an outline and knowing exactly how you want to lead your readers through your narrative (being aware how their “journey” should develop) not only makes your article much clearer and easier to follow, it also helps you decide what should and should not be included in the review. It is important to manage readers’ expectations early on by telling them why you have chosen to write this review right now and highlight how your article differs from other existing work.

You are an expert in the field – that’s why you are writing a review. But your readers may not be as familiar with the intricacies of the topic. Therefore, try to avoid jargon as much as possible. In case you have to use technical language, do not forget to explain it in lay terms or include a glossary if you have that option. While doing so, make sure that the definitions conform to accepted standards and that terms are used consistently throughout your article.

To go the extra mile, it is also highly recommended to have someone unfamiliar with your field to read your article to make sure it makes sense to a lay audience.

Many review authors invest much effort in polishing the content of their reviews but forget to pay sufficient attention to the journal’s stylistic and formatting guidelines. This common pitfall can easily lead to a slow-down and not being aware of – and acting on – any requirements, can negatively affect your review article’s chance of being published. Make sure, then, that you carefully familiarize yourself with the house style and guide for authors for the journal in question.

  • Expect to heavily revise the first draft Even if you think you have followed all the requirements and produced a perfect first draft of your review article, there is a high chance you will receive it back with numerous comments and suggestions for change. Don’t be disappointed or discouraged . Keep in mind that the editors and reviewers are here to help your paper succeed and by following their advice, you will emerge with a stronger version. Make the best out of this by approaching the comments with an open attitude and really engage with them instead of just treating it apathetically as a “paint by numbers” job. If you can afford to do so, it’s often a wise idea to take a few days off and refresh your mind before returning to your article and working on a revised draft.

There is a lot more to know!

You can learn more about other insightful tips and practices on writing a compelling review article in the full webinar recording at the Elsevier Researcher Academy and can also find answers to some questions asked during the separate webinar on the Cell Mentor program . If you still have questions after doing so, you are welcome to post in the associated Mendeley group where the team will endeavour to find answers to your questions.


My Pham

My Pham is a Marketing and Communications Intern at Elsevier, based in Amsterdam. Her previous roles include covering economic and political news as a Foreign Correspondent for Reuters in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. She has a master’s degree in Journalism, Media and Globalisation from the University of Amsterdam.

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How to Review a Journal Article

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For many kinds of assignments, like a  literature review , you may be asked to offer a critique or review of a journal article. This is an opportunity for you as a scholar to offer your  qualified opinion  and  evaluation  of how another scholar has composed their article, argument, and research. That means you will be expected to go beyond a simple  summary  of the article and evaluate it on a deeper level. As a college student, this might sound intimidating. However, as you engage with the research process, you are becoming immersed in a particular topic, and your insights about the way that topic is presented are valuable and can contribute to the overall conversation surrounding your topic.


Some disciplines, like Criminal Justice, may only want you to summarize the article without including your opinion or evaluation. If your assignment is to summarize the article only, please see our literature review handout.

Before getting started on the critique, it is important to review the article thoroughly and critically. To do this, we recommend take notes,  annotating , and reading the article several times before critiquing. As you read, be sure to note important items like the thesis, purpose, research questions, hypotheses, methods, evidence, key findings, major conclusions, tone, and publication information. Depending on your writing context, some of these items may not be applicable.

Questions to Consider

To evaluate a source, consider some of the following questions. They are broken down into different categories, but answering these questions will help you consider what areas to examine. With each category, we recommend identifying the strengths and weaknesses in each since that is a critical part of evaluation.

Evaluating Purpose and Argument

  • How well is the purpose made clear in the introduction through background/context and thesis?
  • How well does the abstract represent and summarize the article’s major points and argument?
  • How well does the objective of the experiment or of the observation fill a need for the field?
  • How well is the argument/purpose articulated and discussed throughout the body of the text?
  • How well does the discussion maintain cohesion?

Evaluating the Presentation/Organization of Information

  • How appropriate and clear is the title of the article?
  • Where could the author have benefited from expanding, condensing, or omitting ideas?
  • How clear are the author’s statements? Challenge ambiguous statements.
  • What underlying assumptions does the author have, and how does this affect the credibility or clarity of their article?
  • How objective is the author in his or her discussion of the topic?
  • How well does the organization fit the article’s purpose and articulate key goals?

Evaluating Methods

  • How appropriate are the study design and methods for the purposes of the study?
  • How detailed are the methods being described? Is the author leaving out important steps or considerations?
  • Have the procedures been presented in enough detail to enable the reader to duplicate them?

Evaluating Data

  • Scan and spot-check calculations. Are the statistical methods appropriate?
  • Do you find any content repeated or duplicated?
  • How many errors of fact and interpretation does the author include? (You can check on this by looking up the references the author cites).
  • What pertinent literature has the author cited, and have they used this literature appropriately?

Following, we have an example of a summary and an evaluation of a research article. Note that in most literature review contexts, the summary and evaluation would be much shorter. This extended example shows the different ways a student can critique and write about an article.

Chik, A. (2012). Digital gameplay for autonomous foreign language learning: Gamers’ and language teachers’ perspectives. In H. Reinders (ed.),  Digital games in language learning and teaching  (pp. 95-114). Eastbourne, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

Be sure to include the full citation either in a reference page or near your evaluation if writing an  annotated bibliography .

In Chik’s article “Digital Gameplay for Autonomous Foreign Language Learning: Gamers’ and Teachers’ Perspectives”, she explores the ways in which “digital gamers manage gaming and gaming-related activities to assume autonomy in their foreign language learning,” (96) which is presented in contrast to how teachers view the “pedagogical potential” of gaming. The research was described as an “umbrella project” consisting of two parts. The first part examined 34 language teachers’ perspectives who had limited experience with gaming (only five stated they played games regularly) (99). Their data was recorded through a survey, class discussion, and a seven-day gaming trial done by six teachers who recorded their reflections through personal blog posts. The second part explored undergraduate gaming habits of ten Hong Kong students who were regular gamers. Their habits were recorded through language learning histories, videotaped gaming sessions, blog entries of gaming practices, group discussion sessions, stimulated recall sessions on gaming videos, interviews with other gamers, and posts from online discussion forums. The research shows that while students recognize the educational potential of games and have seen benefits of it in their lives, the instructors overall do not see the positive impacts of gaming on foreign language learning.

The summary includes the article’s purpose, methods, results, discussion, and citations when necessary.

This article did a good job representing the undergraduate gamers’ voices through extended quotes and stories. Particularly for the data collection of the undergraduate gamers, there were many opportunities for an in-depth examination of their gaming practices and histories. However, the representation of the teachers in this study was very uneven when compared to the students. Not only were teachers labeled as numbers while the students picked out their own pseudonyms, but also when viewing the data collection, the undergraduate students were more closely examined in comparison to the teachers in the study. While the students have fifteen extended quotes describing their experiences in their research section, the teachers only have two of these instances in their section, which shows just how imbalanced the study is when presenting instructor voices.

Some research methods, like the recorded gaming sessions, were only used with students whereas teachers were only asked to blog about their gaming experiences. This creates a richer narrative for the students while also failing to give instructors the chance to have more nuanced perspectives. This lack of nuance also stems from the emphasis of the non-gamer teachers over the gamer teachers. The non-gamer teachers’ perspectives provide a stark contrast to the undergraduate gamer experiences and fits neatly with the narrative of teachers not valuing gaming as an educational tool. However, the study mentioned five teachers that were regular gamers whose perspectives are left to a short section at the end of the presentation of the teachers’ results. This was an opportunity to give the teacher group a more complex story, and the opportunity was entirely missed.

Additionally, the context of this study was not entirely clear. The instructors were recruited through a master’s level course, but the content of the course and the institution’s background is not discussed. Understanding this context helps us understand the course’s purpose(s) and how those purposes may have influenced the ways in which these teachers interpreted and saw games. It was also unclear how Chik was connected to this masters’ class and to the students. Why these particular teachers and students were recruited was not explicitly defined and also has the potential to skew results in a particular direction.

Overall, I was inclined to agree with the idea that students can benefit from language acquisition through gaming while instructors may not see the instructional value, but I believe the way the research was conducted and portrayed in this article made it very difficult to support Chik’s specific findings.

Some professors like you to begin an evaluation with something positive but isn’t always necessary.

The evaluation is clearly organized and uses transitional phrases when moving to a new topic.

This evaluation includes a summative statement that gives the overall impression of the article at the end, but this can also be placed at the beginning of the evaluation.

This evaluation mainly discusses the representation of data and methods. However, other areas, like organization, are open to critique.

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Article Contents

Introduction, selection of a topic, scientific literature search and analysis, structure of a scientific review article, tips for success, acknowledgments, conflict of interest statement.

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A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Scientific Review Article

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Manisha Bahl, MD, MPH, FSBI, A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Scientific Review Article, Journal of Breast Imaging , Volume 5, Issue 4, July/August 2023, Pages 480–485, https://doi.org/10.1093/jbi/wbad028

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Scientific review articles are comprehensive, focused reviews of the scientific literature written by subject matter experts. The task of writing a scientific review article can seem overwhelming; however, it can be managed by using an organized approach and devoting sufficient time to the process. The process involves selecting a topic about which the authors are knowledgeable and enthusiastic, conducting a literature search and critical analysis of the literature, and writing the article, which is composed of an abstract, introduction, body, and conclusion, with accompanying tables and figures. This article, which focuses on the narrative or traditional literature review, is intended to serve as a guide with practical steps for new writers. Tips for success are also discussed, including selecting a focused topic, maintaining objectivity and balance while writing, avoiding tedious data presentation in a laundry list format, moving from descriptions of the literature to critical analysis, avoiding simplistic conclusions, and budgeting time for the overall process.

Scientific review articles provide a focused and comprehensive review of the available evidence about a subject, explain the current state of knowledge, and identify gaps that could be topics for potential future research.

Detailed tables reviewing the relevant scientific literature are important components of high-quality scientific review articles.

Tips for success include selecting a focused topic, maintaining objectivity and balance, avoiding tedious data presentation, providing a critical analysis rather than only a description of the literature, avoiding simplistic conclusions, and budgeting time for the overall process.

The process of researching and writing a scientific review article can be a seemingly daunting task but can be made manageable, and even enjoyable, if an organized approach is used and a reasonable timeline is given. Scientific review articles provide authors with an opportunity to synthesize the available evidence about a specific subject, contribute their insights to the field, and identify opportunities for future research. The authors, in turn, gain recognition as subject matter experts and thought leaders in the field. An additional benefit to the authors is that high-quality review articles can often be cited many years after publication ( 1 , 2 ). The reader of a scientific review article should gain an understanding of the current state of knowledge on the subject, points of controversy, and research questions that have yet to be answered ( 3 ).

There are two types of review articles, narrative or traditional literature reviews and systematic reviews, which may or may not be accompanied by a meta-analysis ( 4 ). This article, which focuses on the narrative or traditional literature review, is intended to serve as a guide with practical steps for new writers. It is geared toward breast imaging radiologists who are preparing to write a scientific review article for the Journal of Breast Imaging but can also be used by any writer, reviewer, or reader. In the narrative or traditional literature review, the available scientific literature is synthesized and no new data are presented. This article first discusses the process of selecting an appropriate topic. Then, practical tips for conducting a literature search and analyzing the literature are provided. The structure of a scientific review article is outlined and tips for success are described.

Scientific review articles are often solicited by journal editors and written by experts in the field. For solicited or invited articles, a senior expert in the field may be contacted and, in turn, may ask junior faculty or trainees to help with the literature search and writing process. Most journals also consider proposals for review article topics. The journal’s editorial office can be contacted via e-mail with a topic proposal, ideally with an accompanying outline or an extended abstract to help explain the proposal.

When selecting a topic for a scientific review article, the following considerations should be taken into account: The authors should be knowledgeable about and interested in the topic; the journal’s audience should be interested in the topic; and the topic should be focused, with a sufficient number of current research studies ( Figure 1 ). For the Journal of Breast Imaging , a scientific review article on breast MRI would be too broad in scope. Examples of more focused topics include abbreviated breast MRI ( 5 ), concerns about gadolinium deposition in the setting of screening MRI ( 6 ), Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS) 3 assessments on MRI ( 7 , 8 ), the science of background parenchymal enhancement ( 9 ), and screening MRI in women at intermediate risk ( 10 ).

Summary of the factors to consider when selecting a topic for a scientific review article. Adapted with permission from Dhillon et al (2).

Summary of the factors to consider when selecting a topic for a scientific review article. Adapted with permission from Dhillon et al ( 2 ).

Once a well-defined topic is selected, the next step is to conduct a literature search. There are multiple indexing databases that can be used for a literature search, including PubMed, SCOPUS, and Web of Science ( 11–13 ). A list of databases with links can be found on the National Institutes of Health website ( 14 ). It is advised to keep track of the search terms that are used so that the search could be replicated if needed.

While reading articles, taking notes and keeping track of findings in a spreadsheet or database can be helpful. The following points should be considered for each article: What is the purpose of the article, and is it relevant to the review article topic? What was the study design (eg, retrospective analysis, randomized controlled trial)? Are the conclusions that are drawn based on the presented data valid and reasonable? What are the strengths and limitations of the study? In the discussion section, do the authors discuss other literature that both supports and contradicts their findings? It can also be helpful to read accompanying editorials, if available, that are written by experts to explain the importance of the original scientific article in the context of other work in the field.

If previous review articles on the same topic are discovered during the literature search, then the following strategies could be considered: discussing approaches used and limitations of past reviews, identifying a new angle that has not been previously covered, and/or focusing on new research that has been published since the most recent reviews on the topic ( 3 ). It is highly encouraged to create an outline and solicit feedback from co-authors before writing begins.

Writing a high-quality scientific review article is “a balancing act between the scientific rigor needed to select and critically appraise original studies, and the art of telling a story by providing context, exploring the known and the unknown, and pointing the way forward” ( 15 ). The ideal scientific review article is balanced and authoritative and serves as a definitive reference on the topic. Review articles tend to be 4000 to 5000 words in length, with 80% to 90% devoted to the body.

When preparing a scientific review article, writers can consider using the Scale for the Assessment of Narrative Review Articles, which has been proposed as a critical appraisal tool to help editors, reviewers, and readers assess non–systematic review articles ( 16 ). It is composed of the following six items, which are rated from 0 to 2 (with 0 being low quality and 2 being high quality): explanation of why the article is important, statement of aims or questions to be addressed, description of the literature search strategy, inclusion of appropriate references, scientific reasoning, and appropriate data presentation. In a study with three raters each reviewing 30 articles, the scale was felt to be feasible in daily editorial work and had high inter-rater reliability.

The components of a scientific review article include the abstract, introduction, body, conclusion, references, tables, and figures, which are described below.

Abstracts are typically structured as a single paragraph, ranging from 200 to 250 words in length. The abstract briefly explains why the topic is important, provides a summary of the main conclusions that are being drawn based on the research studies that were included and analyzed in the review article, and describes how the article is organized ( 17 ). Because the abstract should provide a summary of the main conclusions being drawn, it is often written last, after the other sections of the article have been completed. It does not include references.

The introduction provides detailed background about the topic and outlines the objectives of the review article. It is important to explain why the literature on that topic should be reviewed (eg, no prior reviews, different angle from prior reviews, new published research). The problem-gap-hook approach can be used, in which the topic is introduced, the gap is explained (eg, lack of published synthesis), and the hook (or why it matters) is provided ( 18 ). If there are prior review articles on the topic, particularly recent ones, then the authors are encouraged to justify how their review contributes to the existing literature. The content in the introduction section should be supported with references, but specific findings from recent research studies are typically not described, instead being discussed in depth in the body.

In a traditional or narrative review article, a methods section is optional. The methods section should include a list of the databases and years that were searched, search terms that were used, and a summary of the inclusion and exclusion criteria for articles ( 17 , 19 ).

The body can take different forms depending on the topic but should be organized into sections with subheadings, with each subsection having an independent introduction and conclusion. In the body, published studies should be reviewed in detail and in an organized fashion. In general, each paragraph should begin with a thesis statement or main point, and the sentences that follow it should consist of supporting evidence drawn from the literature. Research studies need not be discussed in chronological order, and the results from one research study may be discussed in different sections of the body. For example, if writing a scientific review article on screening digital breast tomosynthesis, cancer detection rates reported in one study may be discussed in a separate paragraph from the false-positive rates that were reported in the same study.

Emphasis should be placed on the significance of the study results in the broader context of the subject. The strengths and weaknesses of individual studies should be discussed. An example of this type of discussion is as follows: “Smith et al found no differences in re-excision rates among breast cancer patients who did and did not undergo preoperative MRI. However, there were several important limitations of this study. The radiologists were not required to have breast MRI interpretation experience, nor was it required that MRI-detected findings undergo biopsy prior to surgery.” Other examples of phrases that can be used for constructive criticism are available online ( 20 ).

The conclusion section ties everything together and clearly states the conclusions that are being drawn based on the research studies included and analyzed in the article. The authors are also encouraged to provide their views on future research, important challenges, and unanswered questions.

Scientific review articles tend to have a large number of supporting references (up to 100). When possible, referencing the original article (rather than a review article referring to the original article) is preferred. The use of a reference manager, such as EndNote (Clarivate, London, UK) ( 21 ), Mendeley Desktop (Elsevier, Amsterdam, the Netherlands) ( 22 ), Paperpile (Paperpile LLC, Cambridge, MA) ( 23 ), RefWorks (ProQuest, Ann Arbor, MI) ( 24 ), or Zotero (Corporation for Digital Scholarship, Fairfax, VA) ( 25 ), is highly encouraged, as it ensures appropriate reference ordering even when text is moved or added and can facilitate the switching of formats based on journal requirements ( 26 ).

Tables and Figures

The inclusion of tables and figures can improve the readability of the review. Detailed tables that review the scientific literature are expected ( Table 1 ). A table listing gaps in knowledge as potential areas for future research may also be included ( 17 ). Although scientific review articles are not expected to be as figure-rich as educational review articles, figures can be beneficial to illustrate complex concepts and summarize or synthesize relevant data ( Figure 2 ). Of note, if nonoriginal figures are used, permission from the copyright owner must be obtained.

Example of an Effective Table From a Scientific Review Article About Screening MRI in Women at Intermediate Risk of Breast Cancer.

Abbreviations: ADH, atypical ductal hyperplasia; ALH, atypical lobular hyperplasia; CDR, cancer detection rate; LCIS, lobular carcinoma in situ; NR, not reported; PPV, positive predictive value. NOTE: The Detailed Table Provides a Summary of the Relevant Scientific Literature on Screening MRI in women with lobular neoplasia or ADH. Adapted with permission from Bahl ( 10 ).

a The reported CDR is an incremental CDR in the studies by Friedlander et al and Chikarmane et al. In all studies, some, but not all, included patients had a prior MRI examination, so the reported CDR represents a combination of both the prevalent and incident CDRs.

b This study included 455 patients with LCIS (some of whom had concurrent ALH or ADH). Twenty-nine cancers were MRI-detected, and 115 benign biopsies were prompted by MRI findings.

Example of an effective figure from a scientific review article about breast cancer risk assessment. The figure provides a risk assessment algorithm for breast cancer. Reprinted with permission from Kim et al (28).

Example of an effective figure from a scientific review article about breast cancer risk assessment. The figure provides a risk assessment algorithm for breast cancer. Reprinted with permission from Kim et al ( 28 ).

Select a Focused but Broad Enough Topic

A common pitfall is to be too ambitious in scope, resulting in a very time-consuming literature search and superficial coverage of some aspects of the topic. The ideal topic should be focused enough to be manageable but with a large enough body of available research to justify the need for a review article. One article on the topic of scientific reviews suggests that at least 15 to 20 relevant research papers published within the previous five years should be easily identifiable to warrant writing a review article ( 2 ).

Provide a Summary of Main Conclusions in the Abstract

Another common pitfall is to only introduce the topic and provide a roadmap for the article in the abstract. The abstract should also provide a summary of the main conclusions that are being drawn based on the research studies that were included and analyzed in the review article.

Be Objective

The content and key points of the article should be based on the published scientific literature and not biased toward one’s personal opinion.

Avoid Tedious Data Presentation

Extensive lists of statements about the findings of other authors (eg, author A found Z, author B found Y, while author C found X, etc) make it difficult for the reader to understand and follow the article. It is best for the writing to be thematic based on research findings rather than author-centered ( 27 ). Each paragraph in the body should begin with a thesis statement or main point, and the sentences that follow should consist of supporting evidence drawn from the literature. For example, in a scientific review article about artificial intelligence (AI) for screening mammography, one approach would be to write that article A found a higher cancer detection rate, higher efficiency, and a lower false-positive rate with use of the AI algorithm and article B found a similar cancer detection rate and higher efficiency, while article C found a higher cancer detection rate and higher false-positive rate. Rather, a better approach would be to write one or more paragraphs summarizing the literature on cancer detection rates, one or more paragraphs on false-positive rates, and one or more paragraphs on efficiency. The results from one study (eg, article A) need not all be discussed in the same paragraph.

Move from Description (Summary) to Analysis

A common pitfall is to describe and summarize the published literature without providing a critical analysis. The purpose of the narrative or traditional review article is not only to summarize relevant discoveries but also to synthesize the literature, discuss its limitations and implications, and speculate on the future.

Avoid Simplistic Conclusions

The scientific review article’s conclusions should consider the complexity of the topic and the quality of the evidence. When describing a study’s findings, it is best to use language that reflects the quality of the evidence rather than making definitive statements. For example, rather than stating that “The use of preoperative breast MRI leads to a reduction in re-excision rates,” the following comments could be made: “Two single-institution retrospective studies found that preoperative MRI was associated with lower rates of positive surgical margins, which suggests that preoperative MRI may lead to reduced re-excision rates. Larger studies with randomization of patients are needed to validate these findings.”

Budget Time for Researching, Synthesizing, and Writing

The amount of time necessary to write a high-quality scientific review article can easily be underestimated. The process of searching for and synthesizing the scientific literature on a topic can take weeks to months to complete depending on the number of authors involved in this process.

Scientific review articles are common in the medical literature and can serve as definitive references on the topic for other scientists, clinicians, and trainees. The first step in the process of preparing a scientific review article is to select a focused topic. This step is followed by a literature search and critical analysis of the published data. The components of the article include an abstract, introduction, body, and conclusion, with the majority devoted to the body, in which the relevant literature is reviewed in detail. The article should be objective and balanced, with summaries and critical analysis of the available evidence. Budgeting time for researching, synthesizing, and writing; taking advantage of the resources listed in this article and available online; and soliciting feedback from co-authors at various stages of the process (eg, after an outline is created) can help new writers produce high-quality scientific review articles.

The author thanks Susanne L. Loomis (Medical and Scientific Communications, Strategic Communications, Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA) for creating Figure 1 in this article.

None declared.

M.B. is a consultant for Lunit (medical AI software company) and an expert panelist for 2nd.MD (a digital health company). She also receives funding from the National Institutes of Health (K08CA241365). M.B. is an associate editor of the Journal of Breast Imaging . As such, she was excluded from the editorial process.

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writing of review article

How to Write an Article Review: Tips and Examples

writing of review article

An article review format allows scholars or students to analyze and evaluate the work of other experts in a given field. Outside of the education system, experts often review the work of their peers for clarity, originality, and contribution to the discipline of study.

When answering the questions of what is an article review and how to write one, you must understand the depth of analysis and evaluation that your instructor is seeking.

What Is an Article Review

That is a type of professional paper writing which demands a high level of in-depth analysis and a well-structured presentation of arguments. It is a critical, constructive evaluation of literature in a particular field through summary, classification, analysis, and comparison.

If you write a scientific review, you have to use database searches to portray the research. Your primary goal is to summarize everything and present a clear understanding of the topic you’ve been working on.

Writing Involves:

  • Summarization, classification, analysis, critiques, and comparison.
  • The analysis, evaluation, and comparison require use theories, ideas, and research, relevant to the subject area of the article.
  • It is also worth nothing if a review does not introduce new information, but instead presents a response to another writer’s work.
  • Check out other samples to gain a better understanding of how to review the article.

Types of Review

There are few types of article reviews.

Journal Article Review

Much like all other reviews, a journal article review evaluates strengths and weaknesses of a publication. A qualified paper writer must provide the reader with an analysis and interpretation that demonstrates the article’s value.

Research Article Review

It differs from a journal article review by the way that it evaluates the research method used and holds that information in retrospect to analysis and critique.

Science Article Review

Scientific article review involves anything in the realm of science. Often, scientific publications include more information on the background that you can use to analyze the publication more comprehensively.

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Formatting an Article Review

The format of the article should always adhere to the citation style required by your professor. If you’re not sure, seek clarification on the preferred format and ask him to clarify several other pointers to complete the formatting of an article review adequately.

How Many Publications Should You Review?

  • In what format you should cite your articles (MLA, APA, ASA, Chicago, etc.)?
  • What length should your review be?
  • Should you include a summary, critique, or personal opinion in your assignment?
  • Do you need to call attention to a theme or central idea within the articles?
  • Does your instructor require background information?

When you know the answers to these questions, you may start writing your assignment. Below are examples of MLA and APA formats, as those are the two most common citation styles.


Using the APA Format

Articles appear most commonly in academic journals, newspapers, and websites. If you write an article review in the APA format, you will need to write bibliographical entries for the sources you use:

  • Web : Author [last name], A.A [first and middle initial]. (Year, Month Date of Publication). Title. Retrieved from {link}
  • Journal : Author [last name], A.A [first and middle initial]. (Publication Year). Publication Title. Periodical Title, Volume(Issue), pp.-pp.
  • Newspaper : Author [last name], A.A [first and middle initial]. (Year, Month Date of Publication). Publication Title. Magazine Title, pp. xx-xx.

Using MLA Format

  • Web : Last, First Middle Initial. “Publication Title.” Website Title. Website Publisher, Date Month Year Published. Web. Date Month Year Accessed.
  • Newspaper : Last, First M. “Publication Title.” Newspaper Title [City] Date, Month, Year Published: Page(s). Print.
  • Journal : Last, First M. “Publication Title.” Journal Title Series Volume. Issue (Year Published): Page(s). Database Name. Web. Date Month Year Accessed.

The Pre-Writing Process

Facing this task for the first time can really get confusing and can leave you being unsure where to begin. To create a top-notch article review, start with a few preparatory steps. Here are the two main stages to get you started:

Step 1: Define the right organization for your review. Knowing the future setup of your paper will help you define how you should read the article. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Summarize the article — seek out the main points, ideas, claims, and general information presented in the article.
  • Define the positive points — identify the strong aspects, ideas, and insightful observations the author has made.
  • Find the gaps —- determine whether or not the author has any contradictions, gaps, or inconsistencies in the article and evaluate whether or not he or she used a sufficient amount of arguments and information to support his or her ideas.
  • Identify unanswered questions — finally, identify if there are any questions left unanswered after reading the piece.

Step 2: Move on and review the article. Here is a small and simple guide to help you do it right:

  • Start off by looking at and assessing the title of the piece, its abstract, introductory part, headings and subheadings, opening sentences in its paragraphs, and its conclusion.
  • First, read only the beginning and the ending of the piece (introduction and conclusion). These are the parts where authors include all of their key arguments and points. Therefore, if you start with reading these parts, it will give you a good sense of the author’s main points.
  • Finally, read the article fully.

These three steps make up most of the prewriting process. After you are done with them, you can move on to writing your own review—and we are going to guide you through the writing process as well.

Organization in an assignment like this is of utmost importance. Before embarking on your writing process, you could outline your assignment or use an article review template to organize your thoughts more coherently.

Outline and Template

As you progress with reading your article, organize your thoughts into coherent sections in an outline. As you read, jot down important facts, contributions, or contradictions. Identify the shortcomings and strengths of your publication. Begin to map your outline accordingly.

If your professor does not want a summary section or a personal critique section, then you must alleviate those parts from your writing. Much like other assignments, an article review must contain an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Thus you might consider dividing your outline according to these sections as well as subheadings within the body. If you find yourself troubled with the prewriting and the brainstorming process for this assignment, seek out a sample outline.

Your custom essay must contain these constituent parts:

  • Pre-title page : here, you will want to list the type of the article that you are reviewing, the title of the publication, all the authors who contributed to it, author’s affiliations (position, department, institute, city, state, country, email ID)
  • Optional corresponding author details : name, address, phone number, email, and fax number.
  • Running head : Only in the APA format. It is the title of your paper shortened to less than 40 characters.
  • Summary page : Optional, depending on the demands of your instructor. The summary should be maximum 800 words long. Use non-technical and straightforward language. Do not repeat text verbatim or give references in this section. Give 1) relevant background 2) explain why the work was done 3) summarize results and explain the method.
  • Title page : full title, 250-word abstract followed by “Keywords:” and 4-6 keywords.
  • Introduction
  • Body : Include headings and subheadings
  • Works Cited/References
  • Optional Suggested Reading Page
  • Tables and Figure Legends (if instructed by the professor.)

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Steps for Writing an Article Review

Here is a guide with critique paper format from our research paper writing service on how to write a review paper:


Step 1: Write the Title.

First of all, you need to write a title that reflects the main focus of your work. Respectively, the title can be either interrogative, descriptive, or declarative.

Step 2: Cite the Article.

Next, create a proper citation for the reviewed article and input it following the title. At this step, the most important thing to keep in mind is the style of citation specified by your instructor in the requirements for the paper. For example, an article citation in the MLA style should look as follows:

Author’s last and first name. “The title of the article.” Journal’s title and issue(publication date): page(s). Print

Example: Abraham John. “The World of Dreams.” Virginia Quarterly 60.2(1991): 125-67. Print.

Step 3: Article Identification.

After your citation, you need to include the identification of your reviewed article:

  • Title of the article
  • Title of the journal
  • Year of publication

All of this information should be included in the first paragraph of your paper.

Example: The report, “Poverty increases school drop-outs,” was written by Brian Faith – a Health officer – in 2000.

Step 4: Introduction.

Your organization in an assignment like this is of the utmost importance. Before embarking on your writing process, you should outline your assignment or use an article review template to organize your thoughts coherently.

  • If you are wondering how to start an article review, begin with an introduction that mentions the article and your thesis for the review.
  • Follow up with a summary of the main points of the article.
  • Highlight the positive aspects and facts presented in the publication.
  • Critique the publication through identifying gaps, contradictions, disparities in the text, and unanswered questions.

Step 5: Summarize the Article.

Make a summary of the article by revisiting what the author has written about. Note any relevant facts and findings from the article. Include the author's conclusions in this section.

Step 6: Critique It.

Present the strengths and weaknesses you have found in the publication. Highlight the knowledge that the author has contributed to the field. Also, write about any gaps and/or contradictions you have found in the article. Take a standpoint of either supporting or not supporting the author's assertions, but back up your arguments with facts and relevant theories that are pertinent to that area of knowledge. Rubrics and templates can also be used to evaluate and grade the person who wrote the article.

Step 7: Craft a Conclusion.

In this section, revisit the critical points of your piece, your findings in the article, and your critique. Also, write about the accuracy, validity, and relevance of the results of the article review. Present a way forward for future research in the field of study. Before submitting your article, keep these pointers in mind:

  • As you read the article, highlight the key points. This will help you pinpoint the article's main argument and the evidence that they used to support that argument.
  • While you write your review, use evidence from your sources to make a point. This is best done using direct quotations.
  • Select quotes and supporting evidence adequately and use direct quotations sparingly. Take time to analyze the article adequately.
  • Every time you reference a publication or use a direct quotation, use a parenthetical citation to avoid accidentally plagiarizing your article.
  • Re-read your piece a day after you finish writing it. This will help you to spot grammar mistakes and to notice any flaws in your organization.
  • Use a spell-checker and get a second opinion on your paper.

writing of review article

The Post-Writing Process: Proofread Your Work

Finally, when all of the parts of your article review are set and ready, you have one last thing to take care of — proofreading. Although students often neglect this step, proofreading is a vital part of the writing process and will help you polish your paper to ensure that there are no mistakes or inconsistencies.

To proofread your paper properly, start with reading it fully and by checking the following points:

  • Punctuation
  • Other mistakes

Next, identify whether or not there is any unnecessary data in the paper and remove it. Lastly, check the points you discussed in your work; make sure you discuss at least 3-4 key points. In case you need to proofread, rewrite an essay or buy essay , our dissertation services are always here for you.

Example of an Article Review

Why have we devoted an entire section of this article to talk about an article review sample, you may wonder? Not all of you may recognize it, but in fact, looking through several solid examples of review articles is actually an essential step for your writing process, and we will tell you why.

Looking through relevant article review examples can be beneficial for you in the following ways:

  • To get you introduced to the key works of experts in your field.
  • To help you identify the key people engaged in a particular field of science.
  • To help you define what significant discoveries and advances were made in your field.
  • To help you unveil the major gaps within the existing knowledge of your field—which contributes to finding fresh solutions.
  • To help you find solid references and arguments for your own review.
  • To help you generate some ideas about any further field of research.
  • To help you gain a better understanding of the area and become an expert in this specific field.
  • To get a clear idea of how to write a good review.

As you can see, reading through a few samples can be extremely beneficial for you. Therefore, the best way to learn how to write this kind of paper is to look for an article review example online that matches your grade level.

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How to Write an Article Review: Practical Tips and Examples

04 Sep 2021

Quick Navigation

❓What Is an Article Review?

📑Different Forms of a Review

✒️Formatting of Article Review

✍️How To Write An Article Review

📃An Article Review Outline

✅Tips for Writing an Article Review

📝An Example of an Article Review

An article review is a real must for college and university teachers and one of the most frequently assigned papers. The reason behind this is that a student has to develop a believable critique and not just showcase writing skills. This task isn't easy because you need to conduct in-depth research and provide a careful analysis of the article. Don't have an idea of how to write an article review the right way? Follow the most effective tips for composing a worthy review to impress the reader.

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What Is an Article Review?

Before you get started, learn what an article review is. It can be defined as a work that combines elements of summary and critical analysis. If you are writing an article review, you should take a close look at another author's work. Many experts regularly practice evaluating the work of others. The purpose of this is to improve writing skills.

Create a summary of your text

This kind of work belongs to professional pieces of writing because the process of crafting this paper requires reviewing, summarizing, and understanding the topic. Only experts are able to compose really good reviews containing a logical evaluation of a paper as well as a critique.

Your task is not to provide new information. You should process what you have in a certain publication.

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Different Forms of Article Review

An article review is an important academic exercise as it allows students to critically evaluate and analyze different types of scholarly articles. There are various forms of article reviews , each form is unique in its approach. However, after the article identification, the purpose remains the same: a critical evaluation of the content, style, and structure.

Let's discuss some forms to assist you with the writing process.

  • Research Article Review This is the article review type where as a student, you should evaluate the findings, methodology, as well as conclusion presented in the article. The purpose is to provide an in-depth analysis of the author's research methods, data, and findings.
  • Literature Review As the name suggests, this type of review collects, evaluates, and assesses the work done in different studies as well as scholarly articles that are related to a topic.
  • Opinion Article The purpose of reviewing an opinion article is to review opinions expressed by the author. The aim is to consider the validity and the logic behind the argument. This review helps determine the effectiveness of the writer's article, whether it's able to communicate the main argument from a broader perspective or not.
  • Case Study This is a type of review where you assess case studies. The writing focuses on analyzing specific events, people, or situations. The purpose of reviewing a case study is to determine the author's ability to analyze a case and identify the main issues while providing relevant recommendations.
  • Systematic Review This is a very technical form of review, it analyses the published research on a particular topic in the most extensive and comprehensive form. The purpose of this review is to determine the quality of the research and identify any gaps in knowledge to recommend for future research.

When it comes to writing an article review, seeking assistance from a literature review writing service can be very helpful. These services can offer professional support to ensure that your paper meets all the necessary standards and requirements. They can help you with structuring your paper correctly and guide you on the best approach to take with the content, so that it is unique and stands out from others. Moreover, they can provide expert guidance on how to effectively integrate the literature review into your paper and ensure that the arguments you present are supported by solid evidence.

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Different types of formatting styles are used for article review writing. It mainly depends on the guidelines that are provided by the instructor, sometimes, professors even provide an article review template that needs to be followed.

Here are some common types of formatting styles that you should be aware of when you start writing an article review:

  • APA (American Psychological Association) - An APA format article review is commonly used for social sciences. It has guidelines for formatting the title, abstract, body paragraphs, and references. For example, the title of an article in APA format is in sentence case, whereas the publication title is in title case.
  • MLA (Modern Language Association): This is a formatting style often used in humanities, such as language studies and literature. There are specific guidelines for the formatting of the title page, header, footer, and citation style.
  • Chicago Manual of Style: This is one of the most commonly used formatting styles. It is often used for subjects in humanities and social sciences, but also commonly found in a newspaper title. This includes guidelines for formatting the title page, end notes, footnotes, publication title, article citation, and bibliography.
  • Harvard Style: Harvard style is commonly used for social sciences and provides specific guidelines for formatting different sections of the pages, including publication title, summary page, website publisher, and more.

To ensure that your article review paper is properly formatted and meets the requirements, it is crucial to adhere to the specific guidelines for the formatting style you are using. This helps you write a good article review.

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How To Write An Article Review

There are several steps that must be followed when you are starting to review articles. You need to follow these to make sure that your thoughts are organized properly. In this way, you can present your ideas in a more concise and clear manner. Here are some tips on how to start an article review and how to cater to each writing stage.

  • Read the Article Closely: Even before you start to write an article review, it's important to make sure that you have read the specific article thoroughly. Write down the central points and all the supporting ideas. It's important also to note any questions or comments that you have about the content.
  • Identify the Thesis: Make sure that you understand the author's main points, and identify the main thesis of the article. This will help you focus on your review and ensure that you are addressing all of the key points.
  • Formulate an Introduction: The piece should start with an introduction that has all the necessary background information, possibly in the first paragraph or in the first few paragraphs. This can include a brief summary of the important points or an explanation of the importance.
  • Summarize the Article : Summarize the main points when you review the article, and make sure that you include all supporting elements of the author's thesis.
  • Start with Personal Critique : Now is the time to include a personal opinion on the research article or the journal article review. Start with evaluating all the strengths and weaknesses of the reviewed article. Discuss all of the flaws that you found in the author's evidence and reasoning. Also, point out whether the conclusion provided by the author was well presented or not.
  • Add Personal Perspective: Offer your perspective on the original article, do you agree or disagree with the ideas that the article supports or not. Your critical review, in your own words, is an essential part of a good review. Make sure you address all unanswered questions in your review.
  • Conclude the Article Review : In this section of the writing process, you need to be very careful and wrap up the whole discussion in a coherent manner. This is should summarize all the main points and offer an overall assessment.

Make sure to stay impartial and provide proof to back up your assessment. By adhering to these guidelines, you can create a reflective and well-structured article review.

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Article Review Outline

Here is a basic, detailed outline for an article review you should be aware of as a pre-writing process if you are wondering how to write an article review.

  • Introduction Introduce the article that you are reviewing (author name, publication date, title, etc.) Now provide an overview of the article's main topic
  • Summary section Summarize the key points in the article as well as any arguments Identify the findings and conclusion
  • Critical Review Assess and evaluate the positive aspects and the drawbacks Discuss if the authors arguments were verified by the evidence of the article Identify if the text provides substantial information for any future paper or further research Assess any gaps in the arguments
  • Conclusion Restate the thesis statement Provide a summary for all sections Write any recommendations and thoughts that you have on the article
  • References Never forget to add and cite any references that you used in your article

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10 Tips for Writing an Article Review

Have you ever written such an assignment? If not, study the helpful tips for composing a paper. If you follow the recommendations provided here, the process of writing a summary of the article won’t be so time-consuming, and you will be able to write an article in the most effective manner.

The guidelines below will help to make the process of preparing a paper much more productive. Let's get started!

Check what kind of information your work should contain. After answering the key question “What is an article review?” you should learn how to structure it the right way. To succeed, you need to know what your work should be based on. An analysis with insightful observations is a must for your piece of writing.

Identify the central idea: In your first reading, focus on the overall impression. Gather ideas about what the writer wants to tell, and consider whether he or she managed to achieve it.

Look up unfamiliar terms. Don't know what certain words and expressions mean? Highlight them, and don't forget to check what they mean with a reliable source of information.

Highlight the most important ideas. If you are reading it a second time, use a highlighter to highlight the points that are most important to understanding the passage.

Write an outline. A well-written outline will make your life a lot easier. All your thoughts will be grouped. Detailed planning helps not to miss anything important. Think about the questions you should answer when writing.

Brainstorm headline ideas. When choosing a project, remember: it should reflect the main idea. Make it bold and concise.

Check an article review format example. You should check that you know how to cite an article properly. Note that citation rules are different in APA and MLA formats. Ask your teacher which one to prioritize.

Write a good introduction. Use only one short paragraph to state the central idea of ​​the work. Emphasize the author's key concepts and arguments. Add the thesis at the end of the Introduction.

Write in a formal style. Use the third person, remembering that this assignment should be written in a formal academic writing style.

Wrap up, offer your critique, and close. Give your opinion on whether the author achieved his goals. Mention the shortcomings of the job, if any, and highlight its strengths.

If you have checked the tips and you still doubt whether you have all the necessary skills and time to prepare this kind of educational work, follow one more tip that guarantees 100% success- ask for professional assistance by asking the custom writing service PapersOwl to craft your paper instead of you. Just submit an order online and get the paper completed by experts.

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An Article Review Example

If you have a task to prepare an analysis of a certain piece of literature, have a look at the article review sample. There is an article review example for you to have a clear picture of what it must look like.

Journal Article on Ayn Rand's Works Review Example

“The purpose of the article is to consider the features of the poetics of Ayn Rand's novels "Atlas Shrugged," "We the living," and "The Fountainhead." In the analysis of the novels, the structural-semantic and the method of comparative analysis were used.

With the help of these methods, genre features of the novels were revealed, and a single conflict and a cyclic hero were identified.

In-depth reading allows us to more fully reveal the worldview of the author reflected in the novels. It becomes easier to understand the essence of the author's ideas about the connection between being and consciousness, embodied in cyclic ideas and images of plot twists and heroes. The author did a good job highlighting the strong points of the works and mentioning the reasons for the obvious success of Ayn Rand.“

You can also search for other relevant article review examples before you start.

In conclusion, article reviews play an important role in evaluating and analyzing different scholarly articles. Writing a review requires critical thinking skills and a deep understanding of the article's content, style, and structure. It is crucial to identify the type of article review and follow the specific guidelines for formatting style provided by the instructor or professor.

The process of writing an article review requires several steps, such as reading the article attentively, identifying the thesis, and formulating an introduction. By following the tips and examples provided in this article, students can write a worthy review that demonstrates their ability to evaluate and critique another writer's work.

Learning how to write an article review is a critical skill for students and professionals alike. Before diving into the nitty-gritty of reviewing an article, it's important to understand what an article review is and the elements it should include. An article review is an assessment of a piece of writing that summarizes and evaluates a work. To complete a quality article review, the author should consider the text's purpose and content, its organization, the author's style, and how the article fits into a larger conversation. But if you don't have the time to do all of this work, you can always purchase a literature review from Papers Owl .

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writing of review article

How to Write Critical Reviews

When you are asked to write a critical review of a book or article, you will need to identify, summarize, and evaluate the ideas and information the author has presented. In other words, you will be examining another person’s thoughts on a topic from your point of view.

Your stand must go beyond your “gut reaction” to the work and be based on your knowledge (readings, lecture, experience) of the topic as well as on factors such as criteria stated in your assignment or discussed by you and your instructor.

Make your stand clear at the beginning of your review, in your evaluations of specific parts, and in your concluding commentary.

Remember that your goal should be to make a few key points about the book or article, not to discuss everything the author writes.

Understanding the Assignment

To write a good critical review, you will have to engage in the mental processes of analyzing (taking apart) the work–deciding what its major components are and determining how these parts (i.e., paragraphs, sections, or chapters) contribute to the work as a whole.

Analyzing the work will help you focus on how and why the author makes certain points and prevent you from merely summarizing what the author says. Assuming the role of an analytical reader will also help you to determine whether or not the author fulfills the stated purpose of the book or article and enhances your understanding or knowledge of a particular topic.

Be sure to read your assignment thoroughly before you read the article or book. Your instructor may have included specific guidelines for you to follow. Keeping these guidelines in mind as you read the article or book can really help you write your paper!

Also, note where the work connects with what you’ve studied in the course. You can make the most efficient use of your reading and notetaking time if you are an active reader; that is, keep relevant questions in mind and jot down page numbers as well as your responses to ideas that appear to be significant as you read.

Please note: The length of your introduction and overview, the number of points you choose to review, and the length of your conclusion should be proportionate to the page limit stated in your assignment and should reflect the complexity of the material being reviewed as well as the expectations of your reader.

Write the introduction

Below are a few guidelines to help you write the introduction to your critical review.

Introduce your review appropriately

Begin your review with an introduction appropriate to your assignment.

If your assignment asks you to review only one book and not to use outside sources, your introduction will focus on identifying the author, the title, the main topic or issue presented in the book, and the author’s purpose in writing the book.

If your assignment asks you to review the book as it relates to issues or themes discussed in the course, or to review two or more books on the same topic, your introduction must also encompass those expectations.

Explain relationships

For example, before you can review two books on a topic, you must explain to your reader in your introduction how they are related to one another.

Within this shared context (or under this “umbrella”) you can then review comparable aspects of both books, pointing out where the authors agree and differ.

In other words, the more complicated your assignment is, the more your introduction must accomplish.

Finally, the introduction to a book review is always the place for you to establish your position as the reviewer (your thesis about the author’s thesis).

As you write, consider the following questions:

  • Is the book a memoir, a treatise, a collection of facts, an extended argument, etc.? Is the article a documentary, a write-up of primary research, a position paper, etc.?
  • Who is the author? What does the preface or foreword tell you about the author’s purpose, background, and credentials? What is the author’s approach to the topic (as a journalist? a historian? a researcher?)?
  • What is the main topic or problem addressed? How does the work relate to a discipline, to a profession, to a particular audience, or to other works on the topic?
  • What is your critical evaluation of the work (your thesis)? Why have you taken that position? What criteria are you basing your position on?

Provide an overview

In your introduction, you will also want to provide an overview. An overview supplies your reader with certain general information not appropriate for including in the introduction but necessary to understanding the body of the review.

Generally, an overview describes your book’s division into chapters, sections, or points of discussion. An overview may also include background information about the topic, about your stand, or about the criteria you will use for evaluation.

The overview and the introduction work together to provide a comprehensive beginning for (a “springboard” into) your review.

  • What are the author’s basic premises? What issues are raised, or what themes emerge? What situation (i.e., racism on college campuses) provides a basis for the author’s assertions?
  • How informed is my reader? What background information is relevant to the entire book and should be placed here rather than in a body paragraph?

Write the body

The body is the center of your paper, where you draw out your main arguments. Below are some guidelines to help you write it.

Organize using a logical plan

Organize the body of your review according to a logical plan. Here are two options:

  • First, summarize, in a series of paragraphs, those major points from the book that you plan to discuss; incorporating each major point into a topic sentence for a paragraph is an effective organizational strategy. Second, discuss and evaluate these points in a following group of paragraphs. (There are two dangers lurking in this pattern–you may allot too many paragraphs to summary and too few to evaluation, or you may re-summarize too many points from the book in your evaluation section.)
  • Alternatively, you can summarize and evaluate the major points you have chosen from the book in a point-by-point schema. That means you will discuss and evaluate point one within the same paragraph (or in several if the point is significant and warrants extended discussion) before you summarize and evaluate point two, point three, etc., moving in a logical sequence from point to point to point. Here again, it is effective to use the topic sentence of each paragraph to identify the point from the book that you plan to summarize or evaluate.

Questions to keep in mind as you write

With either organizational pattern, consider the following questions:

  • What are the author’s most important points? How do these relate to one another? (Make relationships clear by using transitions: “In contrast,” an equally strong argument,” “moreover,” “a final conclusion,” etc.).
  • What types of evidence or information does the author present to support his or her points? Is this evidence convincing, controversial, factual, one-sided, etc.? (Consider the use of primary historical material, case studies, narratives, recent scientific findings, statistics.)
  • Where does the author do a good job of conveying factual material as well as personal perspective? Where does the author fail to do so? If solutions to a problem are offered, are they believable, misguided, or promising?
  • Which parts of the work (particular arguments, descriptions, chapters, etc.) are most effective and which parts are least effective? Why?
  • Where (if at all) does the author convey personal prejudice, support illogical relationships, or present evidence out of its appropriate context?

Keep your opinions distinct and cite your sources

Remember, as you discuss the author’s major points, be sure to distinguish consistently between the author’s opinions and your own.

Keep the summary portions of your discussion concise, remembering that your task as a reviewer is to re-see the author’s work, not to re-tell it.

And, importantly, if you refer to ideas from other books and articles or from lecture and course materials, always document your sources, or else you might wander into the realm of plagiarism.

Include only that material which has relevance for your review and use direct quotations sparingly. The Writing Center has other handouts to help you paraphrase text and introduce quotations.

Write the conclusion

You will want to use the conclusion to state your overall critical evaluation.

You have already discussed the major points the author makes, examined how the author supports arguments, and evaluated the quality or effectiveness of specific aspects of the book or article.

Now you must make an evaluation of the work as a whole, determining such things as whether or not the author achieves the stated or implied purpose and if the work makes a significant contribution to an existing body of knowledge.

Consider the following questions:

  • Is the work appropriately subjective or objective according to the author’s purpose?
  • How well does the work maintain its stated or implied focus? Does the author present extraneous material? Does the author exclude or ignore relevant information?
  • How well has the author achieved the overall purpose of the book or article? What contribution does the work make to an existing body of knowledge or to a specific group of readers? Can you justify the use of this work in a particular course?
  • What is the most important final comment you wish to make about the book or article? Do you have any suggestions for the direction of future research in the area? What has reading this work done for you or demonstrated to you?

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An editor’s guide to writing a review article

About this video.

Writing a compelling review article is about more than picking an interesting topic and gathering the latest references. It’s an opportunity to share your views on the most recent trends in the area, discuss which hypotheses seem best supported or which technologies seem most promising, and even chart a course for how the field could develop in the future.

Matt Pavlovich and Lindsey Drayton, editors in the Trends reviews journals group with Cell Press, will give their editorial perspective on what they’re looking for in a review. This webinar will cover how to both conceptualize and write a review, how to distinguish your review by making a strong statement, and why writing a review is worth your time. It will also dispel some common myths about review articles—including that reviews must always originate from an editor’s invitation—and give advice for how to propose a review to an editor.

You will come away with a stronger understanding of how to plan and structure a review article, specific writing tips for writing the article itself, why writing a review is a good use of your time and what distinguishes an adequate review from an excellent one.

About the presenter


Editor, Trends in Cognitive Sciences

Lindsey Drayton is the editor of Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Cell Press’s home for reviews in cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience. She earned her BA in Psychology from Duke University and her PhD in Psychology from Yale University. At Yale, she studied the evolution and ontology of human social cognition using a variety of model primate species. She joined Cell Press in 2017. 


Editor, Trends in Biotechnology

Matt Pavlovich is the editor of Trends in Biotechnology, Cell Press’s home for reviews in applied biology. He earned his BS in chemical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and his PhD in chemical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley, where his thesis project focused on the biological effects of air plasmas. He studied analytical chemistry as a postdoctoral researcher at Northeastern University, then joined Cell Press at the start of 2016.

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Article Review

Barbara P

Article Review - A Complete Writing Guide With Examples

Published on: Feb 17, 2020

Last updated on: Dec 19, 2022

Article Review

On This Page On This Page

An article review format is a scholarly way to analyze and evaluate the work of other experts in your specific field. Scholars or students mainly use it outside of the education system. But it's typically done for clarity, originality, and how well contributions from this expert have been made to their discipline.

When answering questions about what is an article review and how to write one, you must understand the type of analysis the instructor requires. Continue reading to get a detailed idea of writing a perfect article review in no time.

What is an Article Review?

An article review is a writing piece that summarizes and assesses someone else's article. It entails understanding the central theme of the article, supporting arguments, and implications for further research.

A review has specific guidelines and format to write. It can be either a critical review or a literature review. A critical analysis deals with a specific type of text in detail, while a literature review is a broader kind of document.

Moreover, an article review is important because of the following reasons:

  • It helps to clarify questions.
  • It allows you to see other people’s thoughts and perspectives on current issues.
  • It helps you correct the language and sentence structure that does not make sense.
  • After reading different reviews, the writers can get out of personal biases.
  • It further improves the grammar and makes your writing skills better and clearer.
  • Lastly, it helps to provide suggestions or criticism on the article for future research.

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Types of Review

Below are the three main types of article reviews:

1. Journal Article Review

A journal article review is essentially a critique of an academic paper. Here, the author provides his thoughts on both strengths and weaknesses to demonstrate how it fits in with other work and what makes this publication stand out.

Check out the following example to help you understand better.

Example of Journal Article Review

2. Research Article Review

A research article review is different from a journal article review as it evaluates the research methods used in the study. It also compares them to other research studies.

Here is a sample for you to get an idea.

Example of Research Article Review

3. Science Article Review

Science article reviews involve publications in the realm of science. This type of research provides detailed background information so you can understand it in a better way.

Have a look at the below example.

Example of Science Article Review

Article Review Format

The format of your article must follow the citation style required by your professor. If you are not sure, ask him to clarify the following pointers about the preferred format. It will help you format an article review adequately.

  • What format is appropriate to cite your articles? (MLA, APA, ASA, Chicago, etc.)
  • What should be the length of the review?
  • Should it include a summary, critique, or personal opinion?
  • Does the professor require background information?
  • Does it require mentioning a central idea within the article?

After knowing the answers to these questions, you can start writing your article review. Here, we have mentioned the two most commonly used citation styles, APA and MLA.

1. APA Format

An article can appear in academic journals, newspapers, and websites. You need to write bibliographical entries for the sources you use when writing an APA format article review:

  • Web:  Author [last name], A.A [first and middle initial]. (Year, Month, Date of Publication). Title. Retrieved from {link}
  • Journal:  Author [last name], A.A [first and middle initial]. (Publication Year). Publication Title. Periodical Title, Volume(Issue), pp.-pp.
  • Newspaper:  Author [last name], A.A [first and middle initial]. (Year, Month, Date of Publication). Publication Title. Magazine Title, pp. Xx-xx.

2. MLA Format

Here is how you cite your sources in MLA format.

  • Web:  Last, First Middle Initial. “Publication Title.” Website Title. Website Publisher, Date Month Year Published. Web. Date Month Year Accessed.
  • Newspaper:  Last, First M. “Publication Title.” Newspaper Title [City] Date, Month, Year Published: Page(s). Print.
  • Journal:  Last, First M. “Publication Title.” Journal Title Series Volume. Issue (Year Published): Page(s). Database Name. Web. Date Month Year Accessed.

How to Write an Article Review?

Students often find writing an article review for the very first time daunting. Thus, it is best to start with a few preparatory steps.

The following is a complete step-by-step guide to write an effective article review in no time

1. The Pre-Writing Process

First, you need to know the type of review you are writing as it will help while reading an article. Here are some of the main stages of this process to help you get started.

  • Summarize the article by listing all the main points, ideas, insight observations, and general information presented in the article.
  • Identify the strong claims that the author has made.
  • Identify any possible contradictions and gaps in the article and evaluate if the writer has used sufficient arguments and findings to support the ideas.
  • Determine if there are any questions left unanswered by the author.
  • Read the article fully.
  • Evaluate the title, abstract, introduction, headings, subheadings, opening sentences, and conclusion of the article.

After this process, you can begin writing your own review.

2. Write the Title

First, write a title that reflects the main focus of your research work. It can be either interrogative, descriptive, or declarative.

3. Cite the Article

Next, add the citation for the article that you have reviewed. Consider the style of citation specified by your instructor. For example, if you were using MLA style, the citation would look like this:

Author’s last and first name. “The title of the article.” Journal’s title and issue(publication date): page(s). Print

Abraham John. “The World of Dreams.” Virginia Quarterly 60.2(1991): 125-67. Print.

4. Article Identification

After citing the article properly, include the identification of the reviewed article. All the information given below must be included in the first paragraph.

  • Title of the article
  • Title of the journal
  • Year of publication

For Example

The report, “Poverty increases school drop-outs,” was written by Brian Faith – a Health officer – in 2000.

5. Introduction

Before you start to write, you must organize your thoughts. You can use an article review template or outline of your assignment before you start. However, if you are wondering how to start an article review, always start with writing an introduction. It should contain the following things:

  • Thesis of your review
  • Summary of the key points of the article
  • Positive aspects and facts presented in the research study
  • Critique of the publication including contradictions, gaps, and unanswered questions

6. Summarize the Article

Write the summary of the article and discuss the central arguments presented by the author. Also, make a list of relevant facts and findings and include the author's conclusion.

7. Critique It

Here, state the author’s contribution and present the strengths and weaknesses that you have found in the article. Also, make a list of research gaps and see if the facts and theories support the arguments.

8. Draft a Conclusion

This section will sum up the critical points, findings, and your critique of the article. Here, the writer should also state the accuracy and validity of the review by presenting suggestions for future research work.

9. Revise and Proofread

The last step before submitting your article review is revising and proofreading. It is an essential part of the writing process, so make sure to do it right. For this, read the review aloud to identify any spelling, grammar, punctuation, and structure mistakes.

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Article Review Outline

After reading your article, organize your thoughts in an outline. Write down important facts or contributions to the field. Also, identify the weaknesses and strengths of your publication and start to discuss them accordingly.

If your professor doesn't want a summary section, then do not write one. Like other assignments, an article review must also contain an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. So divide your outline according to these sections and subheadings in the body.

If you find that you're having trouble with prewriting and brainstorming for this assignment, try looking for a sample outline. An outline for the article review must contain the below parts:

  • Pre-Title Page:  State the type of the article that you are reviewing, the title of the publication, authors who contributed to it, and author’s affiliations (position, department, institute, city, state, country, email ID)
  • Optional Corresponding Author Details:  Name, address, phone number, email, and fax number.
  • Running Head:  It is the title of your paper, less than 40 characters.
  • Summary Page:  It is an optional section, depending on the demands of your professor. This summary should be a maximum of 800 words long. Just use clear and to the point language and do not give references in this section. Instead, state the background information about why the work is done and summarize the results.
  • Title Page:  Full title, 250-word abstract followed by “Keywords:” and 4-6 keywords.
  • Introduction
  • Body:  Include headings and subheadings
  • Works Cited/References
  • Tables and Figures  (if instructed by the professor.)

Refer to the following template to understand outlining the article review in detail.

Article Review Format Template

Article Review Example

Here is a sample review paper for you to write your own perfectly on time.

Sample of Article Review

Law Article Review

Looking at relevant article review examples may be useful to you in the following ways:

  • To get you started reading academic works by experts in your field.
  • To assist you in identifying the key researchers working in a particular area of study.
  • To assist you in describing the significant discoveries and advances made in your field.
  • To assist you in uncovering the key shortcomings in your field's current knowledge—which may lead to innovative ideas.
  • To assist you in obtaining credible support and documentation for your own consideration.
  • To assist you in coming up with even more research subjects.
  • To assist you to learn more about the subject and developing into a specialist in your field.
  • To get a firm understanding of how to write an effective review.

You can learn a lot about an author's style and voice by reading selections from their work. As you can see, skimming a few samples may be really useful to you.

As a result, the best method to acquire experience writing this sort of paper is to look for an online article review example that matches your grade level.

Article Review Topics

Below you can find examples of topics for article review.

  • Communication differences between males and females
  • The importance of sport for students
  • Negative health effects caused by illegal drugs and substances
  • Use of drugs in professional sports
  • Obesity and its negative effects on health
  • Causes and treatment of infectious diseases
  • Gender roles and their change in the modern world
  • Gun violence in the USA
  • Street art tendencies in the USA
  • Illegal immigration in the USA

It is hard to write a good review because you need to find an article in a reliable source and read it. With this, you are also required to evaluate the information and think about any further limitations. Thus, the writer must have exceptional writing and analytical skills.

Therefore, if you are unsure about your skills, you can always get professional help online.  MyPerfectWords.com  is the  top essay writer service  that provides legit writing help at affordable rates. Our team of top writers can write papers of all types and for different academic levels and subject matters with perfection.

So, do not think much, and hire our  writing services  to get your review done within the given deadline.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of an article review.

The main purpose of writing a review is to create an informative synthesis of the best resources available in the literature for an important research question or current area of study.

How long should an article review be?

Article reviews vary in length. Narrative reviews range between 8,000 and 40,000 words. On the other hand, systematic reviews are usually shorter and less than 10,000 words.

Barbara P (Literature, Marketing)

Dr. Barbara is a highly experienced writer and author who holds a Ph.D. degree in public health from an Ivy League school. She has worked in the medical field for many years, conducting extensive research on various health topics. Her writing has been featured in several top-tier publications.

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How to write a review article


  • 1 Department of Surgery, Hammersmith Hospital, London W12 0NN.
  • PMID: 11810740
  • DOI: 10.12968/hosp.2001.62.12.2389

Writing a good review article is a real challenge. It requires not just a detailed literature search but a thorough 'digest' of the material obtained. Readers seek an up-to-date guide through a morass of data that has been sifted by the author and then integrated into a coherent and authoritative account.

Publication types

  • Review Literature as Topic*


How to Write an Article Review

Article Review

Post Published On: 03 May, 2018

Article reviews are common assignments that are aimed to introduce you to some important works in your field. You will need to summarize and evaluate works written by professionals so you have to understand main points and be able to analyze arguments accurately. To evaluate some work, you need to get a grasp on the general theme, understand the influence of this work on further research of the subject, and analyze supporting arguments. Here are some useful tips for you.

Prepare for Your Review

First of all, you need to understand what your review will be about. Article reviews imply writing for a specific audience that is familiar with your subject. The main purpose of your paper is to summarize key ideas, findings, and arguments so that you can estimate what contribution this article made to a research of this subject.

  • Article reviews are not just about your opinion. Given that you have to analyze a serious source, you need to support your opinions with facts, theories, and your own findings. Make your critique meaningful, building it on a solid ground of evidence.
  • Your article review is just a response to somebody else’s work, not a new research.
  • You need to both analyze and summarize your sources.

Organize the Article

We suggest setting up your article review even before you start reading a source article. This will allow you to understand what exactly to focus on when reading. Usually, article reviews have a logical structure that looks as follows:

  • A summary that highlights the most important points and information.
  • A discussion of strong sides of the article: ideas, interesting observations, etc.
  • The next section identifies gaps and contradictions. You need to decide whether a topic was fully considered or there is a need for further research. If there are any unanswered questions in the article, you have to point them out.

Read Your Article

Read the article a few times. Take a glance at your list of the most important moments that you wrote when preparing for work, and highlight all the necessary information. It’s important not to highlight every paragraph and sentence. You need to focus on the most important points only. Make sure that you select the information that is really useful for your review and meets its purpose. Think how new information is connected to your existing knowledge of the field. Do you agree with the author’s point? Why? Identify what this article has in common with other sources devoted to this topic, and what are differences between them. You need to fully understand the article because it’s the only way for you to write a good review. After this, write a quick summary which will serve as a basis for your further work.

Write an Outline of Your Review

Take a look at your summary and decide whether the author was clear and accurate. Jot down author’s contributions to the field, important points and impressive methods of writing that he or she used. You need to highlight the strong sides of the article, and your main argument for it must briefly explain how this article solves a particular issue. In turn, when you describe drawbacks of the article, we suggest focusing on details that are not clear or not useful enough. Don’t forget that you must support your thoughts with evidence, especially when it comes to estimating the overall quality of the article.

Write a Review

First, write a title. Your title must be related to the purpose of the whole review. You may choose a descriptive title, a declarative title, or interrogative title. After this, write a citation from the article. The rest of the review must follow this citation. Make sure that you use a proper citation format. If you’re not sure what format to choose, we suggest asking your instructor.

Begin with an introduction. It must briefly describe crucial points of the article and the most important arguments used by the author. After this, you need to write a thesis. This type of assignments is different from others because you have to write the author’s thesis statement. It may include several points, but if it’s not clear enough, you have to define it yourself, based on your analysis.

The central part of your review must provide a brief summary of the article. Express the author’s main ideas, findings, and arguments in your own words. Support your thoughts with quotes. Don’t focus on specific details, just summarize the most important points to provide a broad perspective.

After this, you have to write your critique, in fact, it’s the section where you evaluate the article, its contributions, arguments, ideas, biases, and drawbacks. Support your opinion with quotes.

In a conclusion section, we suggest commenting on how this article influenced further research in the field.

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How to write an article review.

how to write article review

In this short guide, we will take a step-by-step approach to teach you how to write an article review. We will explain the differences between an article review for a variety of subjects and let you know where you can find a great example of an article review on the web. We will begin by first answering the question many students have about this kind of assignment.

What is An Article Review?

An article review summarizes and evaluates another person’s article. It’s an assignment that is usually given to introduce students to written works done by experts in a specific field. A critical review of journal article can be done in just about any discipline, but we can’t go in-depth for each. So we will stay focused on the ones you are most likely to have to work in and then break down the steps you need to take for writing a review article that truly impresses.

Some of the most common types are:

  • The Science Article Review
  • The APA Article Review
  • The Law Review Article
  • The Journal Article Review

Each of these has a slightly different approach and style from one another and especially from book review writing. It’s a good idea to get your hands on an article review sample in the related field you must complete your assignment in. You can find excellent published pieces in academic journals at your school library. Or you can turn to a professional writing service to get a custom-written piece sent to you that you can use as an article review template.

What is a Peer Review Article?

Before we move on to the “how to write article review” portion of this guide, we will briefly discuss another type of review article you might come upon at some point: The peer-review article. This type of article is one that is written by a researcher or scholar and then is reviewed by experts in the field before publication. So that means the piece that you see in the journal has already been reviewed and critiqued by others. It also means that it has gone through different versions or drafts. Perhaps one of the best ways to learn how to write a critical review of a journal article is to have a look at how others review experts’ work before they reach publication.

How to Review an Article

The first thing you need to do before writing your review is fully understanding all that you have to do conduct an unbiased evaluation of the published work.

The first thing you need to know about how to review a research article is evaluating its organization. Your review will mirror the author’s structure and format. Focus on the most important elements, including main points, supporting evidence, and claims. It’s a good idea to break up the article into parts to better identify all of the essential elements that need to be addressed.

This type of assignment requires exceptional close reading. If you have gained access to an article review example you will see that the reviewer has been careful to address all of the original article’s main points and supporting evidence. Take what you get from the article and apply it to what you already know about the topic. Do this at least twice to ensure that you cover all of the most important information.

This should be done as a straightforward freewriting session. Just take the main points of the original article and attempt to rewrite in in your own words. This will let you identify the places where you are not in total agreement with what the author has presented. Your writing should be focused on all of the main arguments, main research points, and claims that the author makes.

How to Write a Review Article

The following 5 step-by-step process is all you need to know about how to start an article review. It’s a great idea to start with a couple of practice reviews so that you can become comfortable with this kind of assignment’s main elements.

The best way to adhere to the appropriate article review format is to create an outline before you start the process of writing. Review each of the summary points you made and compare them with the original article. Write down all instances of effective writing as well as any new contributions made to the field. Identify all of the article’s strengths and weaknesses and start to organize the main points with your critique in a clear and concise outline.

Take the original article, outline, and rewrite from the prior steps and start writing a rough draft covering all the main points, arguments, and findings. Since this is a draft you don’t need to worry about getting words right. Don’t stop to make corrections or grammar. Just get the draft down on the page as quickly as possible. Write the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion and then set the draft aside.

The main part of how to write a review of an article is writing your critique. Refer to your outline and summary to draft several paragraphs evaluating the effectiveness of the writer’s arguments. You should address whether the article was useful, thorough, and clear in explaining the subject. The critique will form the body paragraphs, so each paragraph should address a single sub-topic. In each paragraph, decide whether or not you agree with the writer backed up with sufficient support.

The introduction and conclusion should be written after you’ve written the main portion (critique body paragraphs) of the review. Your intro will identify the article, mention its central themes, and arguments made by the author. Your conclusion will summarize the main points of the article in addition to your critique of them. Each of these paragraphs should be no more than 10% to 15% of your review.

Despite everything you’ve learned about how to write an article review, you need to ensure you adhere to the fundamentals of good essay writing. This means that you should set your review aside for a few days before you start your revisions. If you have the time you should set it aside for more time before you start editing and proofreading your work. Writing a great academic review will earn you a high grade and you will be under greater scrutiny since you are critiquing someone else’s ideas, structure, and writing, so be sure to put in the extra work.

There is a lot you need to know about how to write a article review. That’s where we can step in to help. We are a group of highly-qualified academic writers that know everything there is about every kind of assignment. You may not feel you are a strong writer or you may not have the time to write the review article on your own. Whatever the reason may be, we’re available to jump in and help craft a research article review that is guaranteed to earn you a high score.

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‘The Death of Public School’ Review: Find a Place to Learn

Democrats from bill clinton to barack obama favored charter schools and school choice until teachers unions threatened to end their support..

Naomi Schaefer Riley

Aug. 13, 2023 3:18 pm ET


What is a public school? Is it an institution that is paid for by the public? One staffed by government employees? One that teaches a publicly approved curriculum? One that educates a broad swath of the public’s children? In the view of Cara Fitzpatrick, the author of “The Death of Public School,” it possesses all of these qualities, and properly so. That more than a few parents don’t agree—or have become disenchanted with the idea of public schools altogether—is a source of concern for her.

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The inspiring story of the first Black Ivy League president

Ruth j. simmons’s memoir, ‘up home,’ is a love letter to everyone who helped her make her way out of poverty.

In America, successful Black folks often hear the admonishment “Never forget where you came from.” But that warning rarely accounts for how wide the chasm can grow between your origins and your destination. When achievement catapults you far from where you were raised, keeping a foot in both worlds can require an instruction manual. In her debut memoir, “ Up Home: One Girl’s Journey ,” Ruth J. Simmons has written one.

The youngest of 12 children born to sharecropping parents in Grapeland, Tex., Simmons is best known as the first Black president of an Ivy League university: She presided over Brown University from 2001 until 2012. She also served as president of two other universities: Smith College, from 1995 until 2001, and Prairie View A&M, from 2017 until this year.

Her memoir rarely makes reference to these lofty positions. Instead, Simmons chooses to end this volume of her life story just as her academic studies are finishing. “Up Home” reads like a document of proof that Simmons has not, in fact, forgotten a single thing about where she came from — not the shanty-like farm home she was born into, nor the rat-and-roach-infested house her family was living in when she left high school. She has not forgotten her father’s abuse nor her mother’s acceptance of it. She remembers every educator from elementary school through college who illustrated for her, whether in style of dress, precision of diction or method of instruction, that there was a life beyond the one she returned to when school was over.

“Up Home” is a love letter to every person who helped Simmons make her way out of poverty, from those in her Texas hometown to those at Dillard University, where she earned her undergraduate degree in 1967. She then made her way to Harvard, where she earned her doctoral degree in 1973. Whether through church, school or her greater community, Simmons constantly looked for inspiration to help her transcend her family’s provincial way of life.

At first glance, respectability politics seem to play a significant role in Simmons’s early life. In recalling her teacher Miss Ida Mae, she muses: “Until that year, everybody I knew was an uneducated farmer or laborer who spoke or read with difficulty. To be in the presence of a person who spoke so well was a revelation. I wanted to seize control of these words and make them work for me.” Simmons waxes romantic about several other educators with the same high regard for how they eschewed the common dialect and committed to perfecting their English, and explains how she embraced the same nuances of language, so that she might find within big, impressive words an inroad to a career beyond farmhand, domestic help or factory worker.

It isn’t until these individuals reappear in “Up Home” that we see how Simmons comes to appreciate them more for their commitment to communities like hers than for their physical appearance or polished diction. When we encounter Miss Ida Mae again in the narrative, the teacher is in her 80s and attending a special program being held for Simmons in Grapeland, after she’s been named president of Smith College. Simmons recalls: “'I’m so happy to see my baby!' she sang out as if I were still a six-year-old. … It struck me more than ever how much her attitude and commitment to her students had influenced my views about education and my attitude toward my own students.”

On its surface Simmons’s memoir reads like a coming-of-age tale of remarkable success despite the author’s humble beginnings, a victory lap for a woman who’s achieved far more, academically and professionally, than many women of her generation. But the venerated college administrator upends and elevates that predictable theme with frequent, self-assessing asides in which she wonders if, in her quest to escape her surroundings, she judged them too harshly. This is especially true in her depiction of her relationship with her mother, who died while Simmons was in high school. “I was openly dismissive of practices that evoked country living. It certainly did not occur to me until years later that Mama would have had more appealing clothing and a more polished appearance if she had not put our needs before her own.”

In the end, Simmons credits her mother’s many sacrifices with propelling her success. Because her mother instilled in her eldest children a strong sense of responsibility for her younger ones, Simmons was able to rely on her older siblings for financial and moral support as she pursued various ambitions after her mother’s untimely death. She laments that her mother passed before she was able to witness both her daughter’s achievements and her gratitude — and she wonders, even now, how to bridge the gap between her experiences and those of all the family and community members who supported her. She writes of her studies abroad: “How could I speak of the beautiful train ride to the south of France or the ride along the Camargue on horseback without an air of self-importance? I was at once embarrassed to be able to enjoy these experiences when they could not and concerned that this new life would create a barrier between me and them. That feeling has remained as, even today, my life is immensely different from those of most of my siblings.”

In writing a memoir with such an acute focus on the life she left behind, Simmons provides an instructive guide for those who straddle this line between a difficult past and an exultant present. Though the final third of the memoir seems rushed as she breezes through major life events like graduations, marriage, children and divorce, Simmons has succeeded in writing a measured and thoughtful account of her Before and After. “Up Home” concedes that it’s difficult to continue cherishing meager beginnings after attaining a quality of life far beyond what is typically imaginable for someone born into Simmons’s circumstances. But that continued concession makes her story even more compelling. Her dogged commitment to looking back and finding the laudable parts of her challenging early life provides as clear an explanation for her storied accomplishments as her degrees and career appointments.

Stacia L. Brown is a writer, audio producer and mother based in North Carolina. You can find more of her work at stacialbrown.substack.com .

One Girl’s Journey

By Ruth Simmons

Random House. 224 pp. $27

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Best books of 2022: See our picks for the 23 books to read this summer or dive into your favorite genre. Look to the best mysteries to solve as you lounge by the pool, take a refreshing swim through some historical fiction , or slip off to the cabana with one of our five favorite escapist reads .

There’s more: These four new memoirs invite us to sit with the pleasures and pains of family. Lovers of hard facts should check out our roundup of some of the summer’s best historical books . Audiobooks more your thing? We’ve got you covered there, too . We also predicted which recent books will land on Barack Obama’s own summer 2023 list . And if you’re looking forward to what’s still ahead, we rounded up some of the buzziest releases of the summer .

Still need more reading inspiration? Every month, Book World’s editors and critics share their favorite books that they’ve read recently . You can also check out reviews of the latest in fiction and nonfiction .

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Using ChatGPT to Make Better Decisions

  • Thomas Ramge
  • Viktor Mayer-Schönberger

writing of review article

While it may be tempting to just ask for answers, LLMs can assist you at every stage of the decision-making process.

A successful decision-making process has three steps: Framing the decision, generating alternatives, and deciding between them. Large language models can help at each stage of the process. But while it may be tempting to merely ask ChatGPT for answers, the real power of LLMs is how they can assist at each stage. Ask for help thinking of considerations you might be missing, or alternatives you might not have considered. LLMs can be a de-biasing tool, helping you frame and make the decision yourself.

Can ChatGPT help executives make better decisions? The large language model everyone has been talking about for months also has an eloquent answer to this question: “Yes, I can support you in management decisions by providing information, facts, analysis, and perspectives that can help you make an informed decision.” ChatGPT immediately follows up with a limitation of its own competence. “However, it is important to note that my advice and recommendations are based on an algorithmic analysis of data and information, and you, as a human being, still have to make the final decision based on your experience, knowledge, and assessment of the situation.”

Fair enough. But despite this dose of modesty — or because of it — large language models like ChatGPT can become powerful decision-making tools for managers and for companies. Their promise isn’t in providing us answers, but in helping us go through a more systematic decision-making process than is often the case today, even with important management decisions.

Three phases characterize well-informed decisions. First, we must define our goals and context. What exactly is the decision about, and based on which goals, values, and preferences? This way, we define the decision-making problem and set the decision-making framework. The second step is to develop choices: What decision-making options are available to us? The goal here is to generate many different alternatives and not, as is all too often the case, to focus just on the obvious options. Only when we have developed sufficient options from the decision-making framework can we evaluate them and make a well-informed decision in a third step.

Used skillfully, ChatGPT can already provide valuable services in all three phases for business decisions in its current training state. In practice, this means we can enter into a dialogue with the system on any of the three phases of a well-informed decision-making system. When evaluating decision-making alternatives, we can ask, for example: What mistakes do managing directors of large, medium-sized companies in mechanical engineering make when they decide to expand into new markets? And what were the success criteria for a successful expansion?

ChatGPT then does not provide us with a template with which we can weigh the options perfectly in our case. But it can help us uncover our own biases and challenge preconceived notions. Using ChatGPT cleverly can be like a de-biasing tool that has seemingly read Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky intensively. It thus offers food for thought to better reflect on how we can evaluate the options in a more well-informed way.

The system is already even more valuable today when it is employed to work out additional options that we can not think of or easily come up with. This way, it broadens our decision-making horizons, and we understand that there are many more and more far-reaching decision-making options than we realize.

How do we reduce our dependence on China and diversify a supply chain? A managing director and his team may never have dealt with this decision-making question before. ChatGPT, however, may be able to offer up many of the strategies documented on the internet by companies in a comparable situation and may come up with more original ideas than simply relocating production to Vietnam. This is because the system has access to a part of the publicly available treasure trove of options in the industry or company class.

Large language models can also help set goals and preferences, evaluate the decision-making circumstances, and select the decision-making framework. Again, dialogue is key. With the right questions, we become the interlocutor to better understand the context of a decision. For example, with ChatGPT, we can quickly see suggestions of what typical goals other companies might have had in mind in a comparable decision-making situation. For example, a prompt might look like this: “Hi ChatGPT, I am the head of a successful, mid-sized tooling manufacturer outside Columbus, Ohio. I am having difficulties attracting new talent, especially engineers. What may be the reasons for this? What strategies are similar manufacturing companies employing to cope with the talent shortage?”

The bottom line is: ChatGPT is becoming an increasingly intelligent conversation and sparring partner. It does not relieve us of defining the decision-making framework, working out a wide range of options, and evaluating them. However — and here, the self-assessment from the beginning of this article is correct — it does provide interesting perspectives. A large language model has several advantages compared to a human sparring partner: It does not pursue its own interests and does not want to please the top decision-maker, for example, to promote its own career. It is not subject to internal group thinking and bureaucratic politics and is also much cheaper than external management consultants or internal strategy departments . This also means that ChatGPT may make the preparation and assistance of decisions for smaller companies cheaper, leveling the playing field.

The future of case studies

Budding managers at business schools are already indirectly learning about decision-making through a large number of case studies. The aim is to acquire a repertoire of decision-making models by developing and evaluating possible options for action within a decision-making framework. Of course, case studies do not contain a solution in the form of a perfect answer to a specific decision-making situation. In case studies, questions are raised, decision-making frameworks are presented, and decision-making options are outlined. Not only can prospective managers learn from and with these case studies, but they can also be used to train large language models. However, this has not yet happened.

ChatGPT’s programmers could only feed their model a fraction of publicly available case studies. The real treasure trove of data is exclusive and stored at the major providers such as Harvard Business Publishing (HBR’s parent company), with over 50,000 case studies or the non-profit Case Center . If the custodians of these business case studies team up with the makers of large language models, a language assistant for programming, copywriting, and customer inquiries could turn into a powerful decision-making assistant for companies.

This will also get easier in the future because the learning algorithms are becoming more and more efficient, and thus “medium-sized language models” will also be possible, in which it is no longer necessary to feed half the Internet and entire libraries, but above all the texts and documents relevant to the specific field. It is only a matter of time before this happens. In any case, the economic incentive for more informed business decisions is excellent and will propel the transition from today’s ChatGPT to an even more powerful future we might dub “DecisionGPT.”

The great strength of ChatGPT and similar systems is to compare and contrast similar situations. This is precisely the most important need in many management decisions. Very few of the decisions managers face are unique. Thousands, sometimes even millions, of managers before them have had to make a similar choice. The better it is described in human language how they set the decision-making framework, weigh the options, and make their decision, the easier it is for DecisionGPT to become a powerful tool for more informed decision-making.

Eventually, many such management decisions could be automated. Robo-managers could be deployed sooner and more often than many executives in their corner offices may believe today.

In the meantime, though, the advantage will go to managers who use currently available tools to improve their decision-making process. Don’t ask models like ChatGPT for answers; probe them to each stage of the decision-making process.

writing of review article

  • TR Thomas Ramge has authored more than fifteen books about technology, innovation, and decision-making and has won numerous publishing awards.
  • VM Viktor Mayer-Schönberger is Professor of Internet Governance and Regulation at the University of Oxford.

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Starfield Review

Alright everybody, strap yourselves in. this is gonna be a bumpy ride..

Dan Stapleton

I feel like I’m the kind of person Starfield was made for. I loved Bethesda’s last single-player RPG, Fallout 4 (maybe a bit too much), and there’s nothing I like more than a sci-fi universe with spaceships, lasers, and political intrigue flying every which way. And yet, a dozen hours into Starfield, I was feeling lost in space. Things never went too far off course while I was flying my rinkydink little ship around chasing down mysterious artifacts and war criminals with a damn fine crew of companions at my side, but man did Starfield make me work hard to get through that opening stretch. Even when it mostly righted the ship and I was loving the story, sidequests, and launching boarding parties on enemy ships, there were still too many problems that constantly popped up, forcing me to curb my excitement. It’s a bit like Starfield’s own elaborate shipbuilder tool: even though you can slap a bunch of high-end parts together and it will technically fly, sometimes it’s just not the best fit.

I would expect no less: Bethesda has built out a sprawling universe with detailed lore in which humanity has left Earth behind and colonized the galaxy, but hasn’t made first contact with sentient aliens as of the 24th century. It’s chock-full of backstory about wars between its three major factions, run-ins with mysterious space deathclaws called terrormorphs, pirates, and an immense amount more. I wouldn’t call a lot of it especially distinctive – it’s a setting that’s reminiscent of The Expanse, Firefly, and Starship Troopers, full of references to every sci-fi movie from Aliens to Blade Runner, and of course Interstellar. There’s even a fair bit of Indiana Jones influence as it sends you on a treasure hunt to collect mysterious artifacts. In fact, there’s a significant similarity to what Obsidian created for 2019’s The Outer Worlds. But it’s so densely packed in, with more stories around every corner, that I found it easy to get invested in it – once I learned the difference between the United Colonies and the Freestar Collective.

Creating your character is a matter of picking a background story for them that comes with a set of skills and traits, as well as up to three modifiers. It’s always a bit tough to choose this on your first playthrough, since you don’t really know what you’re getting into and there’s no respecing allowed, but none of them is dramatic enough to really hinder you. Some – like the one where your parents are alive and well (if you don’t pick this they just never come up), or the one where a crazed fan follows you around – sound like they’ll be fun to experiment with later, which adds a sense of replayability.

After that, while everyone starts out in the same mining camp and touches the same space magic that sets off a trippy 2001: A Space Odyssey-style vision, Starfield is an immense game that will send you off in all kinds of different directions once it hands you the keys to your first spaceship. It’s to the point where talking to others who played alongside me left us all bewildered and asking questions like:

“Wait, what do you mean you don’t know who the Vanguard are?”

“How did you not meet this person?”

“How are you crafting those weapon mods already?”

“Wow, you didn’t unlock [REDACTED] until level 20?”

“What the heck even is a Va’Ruun?”

“You met who in a bar?”

“Where did you find that ship?”

What's Bethesda Game Studios' best RPG to date?

If you’re not sticking strictly to one questline and just take missions as they pop up (sometimes you get them simply by walking past NPCs as they chat), you can easily fall down all sorts of wormholes into extended chains of missions that take you on adventures that rival Skyrim’s in scope. Even after about 70 hours there are major questlines I haven’t even touched, and others I barely began. I’m eager to go back and finish a lot of those up now that I’ve completed the main story.

In typical Bethesda fashion, that main quest isn’t terribly flexible in how you resolve the situations it thrusts you into. Your options here are, for the most part, about picking whether you want to be a boy scout for whom a good deed is its own reward, a wise-cracking mercenary who asks to be rewarded after doing a good deed, or an all-business mercenary who demands to be paid up front to do the good deed. There are a few choices you can make that affect who lives and who dies, and there’s a decision at the end about which philosophy to embrace heading into the final battle, but most of it is going to play out the same way because, no matter what, your goal is to solve the mystery of the artifacts alongside your secret society of explorers known as Constellation. I won’t say much about where the plot goes because there’s a lot that can easily be spoiled, but I did enjoy the way it probes its biggest concepts – even those we’ve seen plenty of times before – in distinctive ways, and there’s plenty of well-written discussion about what it all means.

It’s in the side quests that you really get to act out your character’s morals: I happened across a dispute between a ship full of colonists and an obnoxious resort planet and had options that included peacefully resolving the conflict (which involves a clever technobabble puzzle) or stealthily sabotaging the ship and blowing up the colonists. There’s a storyline that felt very Boys from Brazil-inspired, as well as numerous related quests about hunting down war criminals and banned technology that pose ethical quandaries to reconcile. You can join up with the Crimson Fleet pirates and dive into a life of smuggling and general space crime, or take up the mantle of a legendary pirate hunter.

There’s no shortage of interesting companion characters to hang out with throughout all of this either. I never felt like my Constellation teammates were wasting my time when they asked to chat, since they always had something to share about their background or a quest they wanted me to help them with. There’s definitely a focus on Sarah, the virtuous leader of Constellation, and Sam, a former lawman with a young daughter in tow who he lives in fear of letting down. However, I was richly rewarded for taking the slightly more eccentric scientist Barrett along with me on some missions, and I suspect the others hold a few surprises up their sleeves as well – likely even the ones you hire out of bars when respectable folks like Sam bail on you for picking too many pockets or hijacking too many ships. But you can only take one person with you at a time, so I have more exploration to do here.

It helps that Bethesda has certainly upped its facial animation game for Starfield. Granted, it’s nowhere near as precise and lifelike as motion-captured performances we’ve seen in The Last of Us and God of War, but it’s on par with other big RPGs where you interact with hundreds of NPCs for dozens of hours, like Baldur’s Gate 3. Character models are generally expressive enough that they can do justice to the excellent voice performances.

Starfield’s problems, though, are glaring – some of which in ways that are inherently different from Bethesda’s other games. I have to say that the early hours are pretty rough going, and there was a while where I was wondering if the stars would ever align. So this review is going to go through that rough patch, too, as I lay this out. But bear with me – just like Starfield itself, it does get better by the end.

The biggest fundamental contradiction within Starfield’s design is that while this is a galaxy-spanning adventure with literally hundreds of worlds you can land on and explore, it can feel extremely small when each of them is separated by little more than a (thankfully) brief loading screen. The first few times I set out I really got into it: I’d enter my ship, climb to the cockpit, strap myself in, then watch the cool animation as my ship blasted into orbit. Then I’d open the nav screen, select a star and a planet to set my course, and grav-jump to my destination before selecting a landing spot and watching my ship set down in a blaze of retro thrusters and dust. But then I realized that, in many circumstances, I could bypass most of that procedure by just going to the map screen and jumping to another planet without even setting foot on my ship. Put another way, while you can walk across an Elder Scrolls or Fallout world without ever fast-traveling, in Starfield you can’t go anywhere without fast-traveling.

A mission might send you to the other side of the vast starmap, but the actual travel time between systems is always the same (and the poorly explained fuel system, which is actually just your range, isn’t much of a limitation). When I discovered that so much of space flight is effectively a series of non-interactive cutscenes, it largely shattered the illusion of exploring a vast universe. It’s impossible not to compare Starfield to the way you freely enter and exit planets’ atmosphere in No Man’s Sky, so it’s a bit of a letdown every time you see a planet and remember it’s just a picture of a planet you’ll never be able to reach by flying toward it. It’s something that happens a lot .

The next nuisance that irritated me no matter where in the Settled Systems I roamed is the fact that there are no actual maps – mini or otherwise – to refer to when you’re on foot. All you get is an extremely low-detail display showing you large points of interest – such as the many abandoned research and mining posts where raiders and robots wait for you to shoot and loot them – and the large swaths of alien wasteland and wilderness that separates them. Within a city, there’s nothing to guide you around beyond shop signs and text-only directories that tell you what stores are located in which district, but not where they actually are.

My guess is that this was a deliberate choice Bethesda made to mitigate the fast-travel problem, where we’re just zipping through the universe without stopping to appreciate the detail and thought that went into creating dramatically different cities like the gleaming capital of New Atlantis, the frontier settlement of Akila, and the dingey cyberpunk metropolis of Neon, among others. And these places are fascinating to look at. The reality, though, is that this isn’t even how we get around the real world today – not since the iPhone rolled out in 2007 – so it’s exasperating to be in the year 2330 with no comparable navigation tools. I spent way too much time running in circles searching for basic things like vendors to sell my loot to while I tried to memorize the layouts of multiple settlements, annoyed that if I were playing after launch I could’ve just checked IGN’s guides for their locations. The tradeoff in immersion just doesn’t seem worth it.

The third ever-present annoyance is, fortunately, one that stands out as something that can be fixed without a major overhaul. Like Bethesda’s previous RPGs, Starfield is a game that is roughly 30% inventory management… and yet it is shockingly bad at that task. To avoid becoming overloaded you’ll constantly need to transfer the weapons, space suits, materials, and alien goo you’ve collected between your inventory and your companion’s, or to and from your ship’s cargo hold, but maddeningly you can’t view the contents and capacities of both the giving and receiving container at the same time. You’re just blindly dumping things out of one until you get a message saying the other is full. All the while, much of the screen is wasted on an overly large image of an item. It’s a bizarre and aggravating step backward from Fallout 4, and the kind of thing I expect modders to remedy within a week of launch.

Dan's favorite planet-hopping space games


Those problems never got better during my playthrough – I just learned to live with them. The hump that I did get over, though, is that Starfield just doesn’t tell you enough about how its huge collection of systems work, and it trickles out the cool stuff too slowly. Out of the gate you can’t mod your equipment, you can’t use your spacesuit’s boost pack (which is super useful and fun, especially in low gravity, and I can’t imagine not having it for an entire playthrough), and you can barely use stealth or board enemy ships at all. You have to put a skill point, of which you only get one per level, into those to unlock them.

And yet from the start you can build outposts that are a lot like Fallout 4’s settlements and can extract resources for you, but Starfield doesn’t tell you that you probably shouldn’t bother for a long while. Early on you don’t need huge quantities of a single resource, so it’s largely a waste of time until you’ve climbed to the higher ranks of the crafting skill trees.

You probably don’t want to go out of your way to mass produce anything early on, because storage space on the first tier of ships is obnoxiously small for the amount of loot you gather (and there are an incredible amount of minerals and materials that seemed like I’d be kicking myself later for not bringing with me). I resorted to silly workarounds like simply throwing junk on the floor of my ship like a space hoarder, which somehow doesn’t count toward your storage space.

It’s also worth noting that the worlds you explore are generally visually different (with varying levels of gravity) but fairly barren and lifeless. You’d expect that from planets that’re mostly uninhabitable and untouched by intelligent beings, but that doesn’t make them a lot more fun to run around; outside of a handful of scattered outposts all there is to do is scan rocks or zap them with a mining laser, or sometimes scan and maybe shoot alien wildlife. It’s a far cry from Bethesda’s previous games, where you generally couldn’t swing a dead mudcrab without hitting something interesting.

There’s one part of the main quest that’s pretty repetitive, too. You’re sent to investigate a series of ancient structures, and it’s annoying that what you do inside each one is completely identical. The rewards are different and enticing enough for me to want to chase them all down, at least, but after the first few I couldn’t help but wish that Bethesda’s designers had taken some inspiration from Breath of the Wild when it came to creating different puzzles for each one.

Starfield Review Screenshots

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It wasn’t until a dozen or so hours in that I unlocked enough upgrades that things started to gel for me. Starfield is absolutely one of those games that takes way too long to get to the good part. But the fact that it eventually did get its claws into me forced me to jettison all of the “More like Starfailed!” jokes I’d been workshopping into space and focus more on what this sci-fi epic gets right – or at least, does well enough.

Filed under “does well enough” is combat, which is the thing you’ll likely solve most problems with unless you’re extremely dedicated to the idea of talking or sneaking your way past most encounters with hostile pirates, robots, wildlife, and anything else that looks at you funny. It’s not bad, and it’s kept me happily plinking away with my tricked-out laser rifles and shotguns, but not especially good, either. Without anything new and exciting to fill the void left by Fallout’s distinctive VATS system, gunplay is left feeling largely unmemorable. Even when you unlock some late-game abilities it’s still pretty straightforward.

To their credit, enemies do react in amusing ways when shot in their heads, legs, or arms, and they will sometimes flee when you’ve killed off their friends. This definitely isn’t the first game in which I’ve seen a soldier panic just before his jetpack explodes, but that never really gets old. By and large, though, these feel like they could be bad guys from Far Cry or Borderlands or any number of other RPG/shooter hybrids. I was especially disappointed by the more powerful enemies you run into in the latter half of the story; oftentimes they simply stand there shooting at me while I empty my shotgun into their faces and stagger or otherwise disable them, ending those supposedly big fights just as they began.

Combat is also kept interesting by the loot: the modifiers on epic and legendary weapons and gear have some fun stuff going on. I found a rifle that weighed just 0.14 kilograms instead of three or four, and one that does more damage as my health decreases and makes enemies more likely to drop med packs. I found a spacesuit that has a 10% chance to set nearby attackers on fire and made me invisible when I crouched and held still. Some weapons do more damage in space and less on the ground; some boostpacks give you significantly reduced oxygen (stamina) consumption. These are modifiers that aren’t afraid to be dramatic enough to be game-changers that you’d build your character around.

Every IGN Elder Scrolls Review

We've rounded up every IGN review of an Elder Scrolls game all the way back to 1998.

The other side of combat is ship-to-ship battles, which are also fairly simple as space dogfighting games go. Even so, it’s entertaining enough to blast away at pirates (or to become one yourself) and watch the resulting explosions tear ships into pieces. There’s some basic power management where you can divert energy between your weapons systems, engines, and shields, but I never really felt the need to fiddle with that in combat because most ships I bought or found had enough power to go around if I wasn’t powering my grav drive (and there’s little reason to in a fight until you decide to make a run for it). Unlike the classic X-Wing games there are no shield facings to adjust, so it’s mostly just light and arcadey blasting. It’s also somewhat disappointing that the in-cockpit displays don’t actually function – your only radar is directional indicators on the edges of your screen.

The closest thing to VATS you get in Starfield is in space combat. When you spend a skill point on target locking, it zooms in the view and lets you select one of the enemy’s systems to pelt with lasers, ballistic guns, and missiles. (This is another one of those skills where it’s a little crazy that it isn’t unlocked by default.) Disabling a ship’s weapons is a great way to even the odds when you’re being ganged up on by three or four pirates and don’t have time to fully destroy one, but even better is that when you take out their engines it leaves them vulnerable to being boarded. Some of the best moments in my Starfield playthrough have happened during these raids as I went room by room mopping up enemies (sometimes with the gravity on the fritz and corpses floating by like in Star Trek VI) until I reached the bridge, gunned down the captain, and sat in their chair to seize their ship and its cargo for myself. I didn’t turn to the enticingly profitable smuggling and piracy during my traditional “good guy” first playthrough, but I can certainly see the appeal of that style of play being more than worth the bounties you’d incur and the companions you’d alienate.

Another highlight of Starfield is the sheer variety of spaceships flying through the Settled Systems, and the fact that they’re so modular and customizable made me wish I’d put more points into starship design so that I could mess with it more and learn the somewhat complicated rules of how to snap the pieces together to form a spaceworthy vessel. It really is wonderful to see your ship on the landing pad so that you can appreciate the scale of it before getting behind the controls. Alas, there is no ability to respec your skills, and by the time I realized the major investment I’d need to fully unlock shipbuilding it was too late for this run.

Every IGN Fallout Review

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For all the criticism I have with the stinginess of the skill system, especially in the early hours, it does deserve credit for its clever hybridizing of traditional RPG skill unlocks and The Elder Scrolls’ system of increasing your skills as you use them. Every time you level up a skill you unlock a challenge, which might be as simple as killing X enemies with laser weapons or as situational as using your boost pack X times during combat, and this has to be completed before you can spend another point to level the skill up again. That’s a noticeable bit of progression that pops up between levels, and adds to the roleplaying feeling that my character has actually honed this skill instead of magically mastering it.

Finally, I have to make a special mention of the lockpicking minigame, which is a simple but satisfying challenge that makes you visualize how several pieces fit together to fill holes. This may be the best unlocking minigame I’ve ever seen in an RPG, and I put more skill points into it than I probably needed to just to gain access to more challenging locks. It’s nice to see one of these that’s rewarding to do rather than a chore that must be endured to earn a reward.

Are there bugs? Of course there are. Playing primarily on PC (with an RTX 3080 on high settings) I’ve seen a fair amount of model and texture pop-in, occasional crashes, performance slowdowns (mostly during autosaving), wonky waypoints, clipping issues, wrong camera angles during conversations, etc. Though I have to say it’s been fairly stable for a big RPG – I never had a quest I couldn’t finish, for instance. Your results will vary; with a game this complex they always do. On Xbox, our staff has seen a few dips in the Series X’s 30fps target, but nothing egregious; a couple of people had save files become corrupted, but there were always more autosaves to fall back on so it wasn’t a disaster.

It’s never a great sign when someone recommends a game on the grounds that it gets good after more than a dozen hours, but that’s very much the kind of game Starfield is, and I do recommend it. There are a lot of forces working against it, and the combination of disjointed space travel, nonexistent maps, aggravating inventory management, and a slow rollout of essential abilities very nearly did it in. It was the joys piloting a custom spaceship into and out of all sorts of morally ambiguous situations in a rich sci-fi universe that eventually pulled it out of a nosedive. I’m glad that I powered through the early hours, because its interstellar mystery story pays off and, once the ball got rolling, combat on foot and in space gradually became good enough that its momentum carried me into New Game+ after I’d finished the main story after around 60 hours. Like Skryim and Fallout 4 before it, there’s still an immense amount of quality roleplaying quests and interesting NPCs out there, waiting to be stumbled across, and the pull to seek it out is strong.

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Did Orwell’s wife write herself out of history?

Anna Funder, left, and her new book “Wifedom: Mrs. Orwell’s Invisible Life."

The goal of biography is shifting. Though society at large remains fascinated by the lives of superheroes and other phenomenal individuals, the mythology of exceptionalism perpetuated through the very genre of biography is showing signs of wear. If nothing else has made it clear, the climate crisis affirms the fact that no one person can save us all.

By and large, traditional biographies validate individualism. While this used to be a prized trait, it hasn’t served society very well. For better or worse, the genre may forever inherently celebrate lone wolves — this month, Walter Isaacson adds Elon Musk to his oeuvre of “geniuses” — but the field is evolving. One example: Anna Funder’s “Wifedom: Mrs. Orwell’s Invisible Life” is not simply a biography of George Orwell and his wife, Eileen (née O’Shaughnssey).It’s in many ways a counterfiction, a phrase that Funder herself employs.


“Wifedom” is a book that dares to imagine lives beyond social conscription — for its author and its subjects. At a professional and personal breaking point, Funder stumbles upon a copy of Orwell’s collected essays in a secondhand bookshop, prompting her to read the six major biographies of Orwell. In recent years, Orwell has stepped back into a familiar place in our consciousness. His novels (”1984″ and “Animal Farm”) and essays give us a shorthand language and points of reference for much of the political nightmare of the last seven or more years. Her inflamed fascination is genuine.

However, in her fervor over Orwell, Funder discovers an ugly and misogynistic passage in Orwell’s personal notebook (excerpted in biographies) that brings this headlong fascination to a halt. Funder reflects, “He sees women — as wives — in terms of what they do for him or ‘demand’ of him. Not enough cleaning; too much sex. How was it then for her? My first guess: too much cleaning and not enough, or not good enough, sex.” Succinct though this may be, this recognition prompts Funder to turn the tables on the great author. Is Orwell speaking about all women or is this vile rant inspired by his wife, Eileen O’Shaughnessy? Who was O’Shaughnessy, what was her history, and why hadn’t Funder read more about her? Suddenly, Funder shifts her attention: “Looking for Eileen involved the pleasure of reading Orwell on how power works. Finding her held the possibility of revealing how it works on women: how a woman can be buried first by domesticity and then by history.” It’s in these gaps that Funder will uncover a larger perspective on the great manand perhaps even his influence today.

On her archival journey, Funder admits there isn’t much to be found through Orwell’s biographies. However, many of Orwell’s and O’Shaughnessy’s friends and contemporaries lived long lives, leaving behind interviews, memoirs, and letters. What’s of greatest importance are six letters written by O’Shaughnessy to her best friend Norah Symes Myles during Eileen’s marriage to Orwell, discovered in 2005. Though she admirably offers scholarly analysis, writing a fascinating biography of the Orwells as well as a portrait of British literary and political life between the wars and beyond, Funder also uses these letters as a means to fill the gaps of O’Shaughnessy’s missing biography by writing fictional scenes inspired by the letters and her research. These passages illuminate the story of this marriage and the work that was created during its brief tenure.

O’Shaughnessy was more than a wife. She was Orwell’s intellectual partner as much as his domestic savior and greatest financial supporter. She also endured physical and emotional hardship; following him to Spain during the Spanish Civil War, to Morocco for his period of physical recovery, to the British countryside where he wanted to live out his pastoral dream, endangering the health of them both through manual labor and his emotional and sexual infidelities. “Wifedom” is a chilling and spellbinding revisionist history about one of the 20th-century’s most imposing authors.It could not exist without such a nimble and generous imagination.

So, here lies the book’s leap of faith. Are you a purist who believes that biography must never include conjecture much less imagined histories? Or do you think it’s more important to juxtapose a canonical life with the possibility of what could have been? In the past, writers may have opted to write historical fiction drawn from scant archival material. These books never enjoyed the respect that nonfiction possesses. Hence, in recent years, scholars and writers have chosen to center creative work within nonfiction. Columbia University historian Sadiya Hartman’s 2019 “Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Stories of Upheaval” “elaborates, augments transposes, and breaks open archival documents so they might yield a richer picture of the social upheaval that transformed black social life in the twentieth century. The goal is to understand and experience the world as these young women did, to learn from what they know.”

In a similar vein, Funder imagines a domestic and intimate life for O’Shaughnessy. In some spaces, she uses it to speak to the larger questions her book hopes to answer. In her fictional voice as O’Shaughnessy, she conjures this reflection: “Everything she is and does and knows seems to be his for the taking. There are not really words for this that she can find. She stares at the pages of his book, her scrawl all over the margins. She’s in this story only in a way no one will ever see. … She has typed herself out of the story.” Funder may read as indulgent to some, but her claims ask: Has history ignored a collaboration between husband and wife which created some of the boldest political literature of the 20th century? While there are those who may clutch their pearls at such liberties, how else but through a brilliant imagination will we come to know long buried truths?

WIFEDOM : Mrs. Orwell’s Invisible Life

By Anna Funder

Alfred A. Knopf, 432 pages, $32

Lauren LeBlanc is a board member of the National Book Critics Circle. Her Substack newsletter is https://laurenleblanc.substack.com/ .


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