A review article is an article that summarizes the current state of understanding on a topic within a certain discipline. A review article is generally considered a secondary source since it may analyze and discuss the method and conclusions in previously published studies. It resembles a survey article or, in news publishing, overview article, which also surveys and summarizes previously published primary and secondary sources, instead of reporting new facts and results. Survey articles are however considered tertiary sources, since they do not provide additional analysis and synthesis of new conclusions. A review of such sources is often referred to as a tertiary review.
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Academic publications that specialize in review articles are known as review journals. Review journals have their own requirements for the review articles they accept, so review articles may vary slightly depending on the journal they are being submitted to.
Review articles teach about:
- the main people working in a field
- recent major advances and discoveries
- significant gaps in the research
- current debates
- suggestions of where research might go next
A meta-study summarizes a large number of already published experimental or epidemiological studies and provides statistical analysis of their result.
Review articles have increased in impact and relevance alongside the increase in the amount of research that needs to be synthesised. They are a concise way of collating information for practitioners or academics that are not able to read the plethora of original research that is being published.