I am faculty in a technical field, and I started exploring a new research direction that I could work on in the coming years. I have not worked yet on this particular topic I am exploring, but after reading a bunch of papers, I have a solid grasp of the state of the art and research opportunities. Given that I read many papers and made lots of notes, I started writing a review paper summarizing the literature and discussing a research agenda. There hasn't been such a review paper published so far.

However, many journals are very particular about review papers. Their guidelines often state that it should be written by an expert established in the field (presumably one with many papers), and some journals even state that they welcome review papers by invitation only. I have written review papers before, but in this case I do not have a single paper written on this topic yet, so I am not sure how to proceed.

Would it be wise to continue writing the review and submit it somewhere? What strategies can I employ to increase the chances of having it published in a good journal?

As a solution, I can contact a more established person and offer co-authorship, but that does not have my preference as I am halfway writing the paper and I can finish it on my own.

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    In my area, there is no such requirement, where review papers are exclusive only to the 'experts'. Having published papers on topic-X does not make one an expert on topic-X. If your review paper has value (which has many definitions), I don't see why it cannot be published. IMO, as long as the review paper provides fresh perspectives of the area, then there is value. Jul 29, 2020 at 3:52
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    You don´t need to be an expert on the subject, but have an editor recognise you as one.
    – Karl
    Jul 29, 2020 at 11:19

2 Answers 2


The simple and short answer is Yes!

You have the freedom to try and publish anything you want, assuming the publisher is accepting it.

Now the long answer. Your concern is that since you do not have any expertise in this area you might do a poor job. This concern is valid and indeed there are high chances that you will do a poor job. But there is no rule written in stone that you cannot write a good review if you spend sufficient time and effort in learning about the new area.

Let us also explore a few more questions. Why do we need to write review articles and if you get it published, will it be useful?

Review articles help many researchers in understanding the state-of-the-art in their field of research and sometimes new researchers actually start by writing review articles, in the first year of their PhD. And some of them end up doing a decent job with that.

Review articles are of a different nature. Some of them are written by experts in a field to make it more popular and they try to include reviews of articles written by their collaborators with the goal of improving their citations. I believe your goal nobler and you should carry on with it.

I am from the field of computer science and I just wrote a blog reviewing vaccinology 3.0 and how data science is enabling it. While doing this review I learnt a number of important concepts regarding vaccines and my review are also useful for an audience which is of similar background.

Since you are writing a more formal review you have more responsibility but with proper care and hard work you should be able to do a good job. Moreover, you will always get feedback from the reviewers which will help you a lot in further improving your understanding of the field.

Best of luck!


Please do not do this! People like review papers precisely because they are written by acknowledged experts in the area. Just don’t, please!

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    Interesting. How would this differ if this review were written say by an undergrad as the first author and an expert PI? I have also read some reviews by undergrads so not sure how these are perceived or how they got accepted if the rules in OP's post apply.
    – NelsonGon
    Jul 29, 2020 at 2:56
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    @NelsonGon Frankly, I think the OP would be better off using their “solid grasp of the state of the art and research opportunities”, as they say, to steal a march on others who do not have this enviable advantage. As for reviews by undergrads, I guess this must be field dependent. In my field (chemistry), I have never heard of such a thing.
    – Ed V
    Jul 29, 2020 at 3:15
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    Wow, totally disagree with this answer. Anybody can write a review or a paper. If it has merit, meaning it passes the review process by experts, then it is publishable. Jul 29, 2020 at 3:49
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    Disagree too. Totally fine IMO if the paper is good!
    – sleepy
    Jul 29, 2020 at 4:54
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    Actually, a doctoral student on completing the literature review should be able to do a good job of this.
    – Buffy
    Jul 29, 2020 at 20:45

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