I have seen many articles with the "Survey" tag. What exactly does a (survey article consist of? Does it contain all the history and work done related to the particular topic?

My concern: Is it ok to write an article as a survey? What are the chances for the acceptance of the article in a journal?

P.S. My research field is Mathematics.

  • 2
    Is it ok to write an article as a survey? --- This is field-dependent in addition to dependent on your background. For example, in some fields a graduate student or early career researcher could write a survey article (from what I've read in this group, examples include experimental sciences, such as certain areas and psychology or medicine), whereas in other fields (e.g. mathematics) only someone very broadly knowledgeable about the topic should attempt writing a survey article. Thus, you should probably give more information about the field and hypothetical author for answers to be useful. Mar 24, 2022 at 7:02
  • Added the information.
    – monalisa
    Mar 24, 2022 at 9:31
  • There are two meanins of "survey" in research. The more common is a data collection method that uses a questionnaire to ask people questions. This is a primary research approach. The second meaning, usually in the context of "survey article", is a literature review. Which type of "survey" do you mean here?
    – Tripartio
    Mar 25, 2022 at 8:03
  • @Tripartio Thanks for pointing this out. I am concerned about the survey article
    – monalisa
    Mar 25, 2022 at 8:53
  • Do you mean "survey article" as in "questionnaire data collection" or as in "literature review"?
    – Tripartio
    Mar 25, 2022 at 8:55

2 Answers 2


Surveys (more commonly known as "reviews") give an overall introduction to the field. They don't necessarily contain all the work that has been done in history, if it is an old field, but they should contain all relevant recent work and present the state of the art. See e.g. this source or this source.

It's pretty common for review articles to be invited papers, where the journal's editorial board asks some famous researcher to write the review. But you can definitely write your own. The peer review process is similar to standard research articles. You submit it, the journal reviews it, and returns a decision. One cannot really talk about "chances of acceptance" - that's completely dependent on how good the paper is.


By definition, a survey paper is not required to provide an original contribution (in the usual sense of some new result). However it must cover its topic very well, present it with a relevant and insightful structure, etc.

So it's neither easier or harder to get a survey paper accepted, it's just a different kind of task:

  • The focus in a regular paper is whether the contribution is original, relevant to the field and scientifically correct. As long as these criteria are satisfied, an omitted reference or a small methodological issue may be considered as minor shortcomings by a reviewer.
  • The focus in a survey paper is how well it presents the existing work in the target topic. So it's crucial not to forget any relevant work and to show a deep understanding of the field, preferably presenting it from an insightful perspective which helps the reader understand the similarity/differences between different works.

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