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Review Articles and How to Find Them

What is a Review Article?

A review article is an attempt by one or more writers to sum up the current state of the research literature on a particular topic. Ideally, the writer searches for everything relevant to the topic and then sorts it all out into a coherent view of the “state of the art” as it now stands.

Review articles should identify:

  • The search methodology
  • Key articles on a given topic
  • The main people working in a field
  • Recent major advances and discoveries
  • Significant gaps in the research
  • Current debates
  • Ideas of where research might go next

How Do I Find Review Articles?

Find review articles by searching one or more article databases for your research topic and narrow your search to retrieve review articles only.

There are two ways to do this, depending on the database:

  • Use Interface Controls
    Some databases allow you to limit your search to review articles using interface controls (e.g. a check box or a menu selection). Scopus and Web of Science are examples of these kinds of databases. Set up your search as usual, find the limiter for review articles (the limiter may also be called 'reviews' or 'literature reviews'), select it, and run your search.
    Note that the review limit in some article databases (e.g. Discover) limits to book reviews rather than review articles (and that peer-reviewed is not the same thing).
  • Use Keywords
    In any database (particularly those that don't offer a review limiter) you can add the keyword 'review' or the phrases "literature review" or "review of the literature" as part of your search strategy. This method may also find additional review articles in databases that already offer a review limiter.

Good databases to start your search for review articles are:

  • Annual Reviews (a database of critical reviews)
  • Discover (add review as a keyword or the phrases "literature review" or "review of the literature")
  • Scopus (limit to Document Type - Review)
  • Web of Science (limit to Document Type - Review)