Over the course or the past year, I've become very familiar with a specific topic through a careful and systematic review of the background and state-of-the-art.

I think this could make for a nice publication, providing readers in similar fields with a handy resource and increasing my academic profile to boot.

However, I want to make sure that the lit review I performed is scientifically sound - so it must be transparent and replicable.

Do you know of any guidelines, best practices, or great examples to guide me as I get working?

  • What is your field? I would think that practices could vary widely. In your field, do literature reviews like this routinely get published on their own? Jun 15, 2015 at 5:54
  • Human ecology. Yes, I've seen a few.
    – Teusz
    Jun 15, 2015 at 6:30

2 Answers 2


While it is not specifically for general literature reviews, but more aimed at systematic reviews and meta-analysis, the PRISMA Statement is widely used in the biomedical literature, and even comes with checklists to make sure a manuscript has a few key elements, such as:

"Present full electronic search strategy for at least one database, including any limits used, such that it could be repeated."

Which is something that's pretty necessary for repeatability - you will often find for systematic reviews that an appendix is included with the actual queries used, what dates, etc. In a more general sense, that's what I'd look toward: "Does my review follow most of the guidelines for presenting a meta-analysis, even if it doesn't bother with summary estimates?" If you do that, you're likely on pretty solid ground.


I would suggest you to perform a limited search for dedicated literature review (survey) papers, either in your field (not sure, whether this should be preferred, as it IMHO might push you too far outside of your own "big picture" view of the field), or in any other field that you can digest.

In addition to the above, please check my recent and relevant answer to a similar question here on this site - along with some general advice, it contains some useful references on the topic: https://academia.stackexchange.com/a/45290/12391.

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