I have been told that having a published review article is viewed as an advantage for higher education. The topic of my review article is the impact of information technology on the practice of human resource management.

What are the sequential steps that I have to follow to make my review article acceptable to renowned publishers and university graduate professors?

I have heard that to make a review article acceptable, the first task is to read vastly about the subject related topic of review article. After reading extensively, how can I proceed - I mean how can make linkage of writing in every parts of review article?

Is it necessary to make a comparison, to find a gap or limitations,similarity of the previous primary and review articles on the same topic in writing my review article?

Do I have to present the information about what others authors have done or shown? or do I have to include my own thought, ideas, decisions along with the other scholars?and if I intend take some information,graph from copyrighted books,will I need to take permission from real authors or just paraphrase the information on own my words?


2 Answers 2


Certainly, a good literature review paper (also frequently referred to as a survey paper) would be an attractive asset in anyone's academic portfolio. However, it is easier said then done. Some people on this site even replied to one of my related questions that such papers is more of a prerogative of senior, very experienced scholars. Perhaps, there is some truth to it; likely, a lot of truth. However, I do think that those opinions should not prevent people from attempting to write a good survey paper (or do anything, for that matter). The reason for that, in my opinion, is twofold:

1) Self-assessment. Some people are better at carrying out specific research, while others are better at synthesizing information, in general, and results of research studies, in particular. We often do not know our strengths (and weaknesses), unless we try both types of research.

2) Self-improvement. In my opinion, it is very important to set the bar high, so that, even if we do not achieve a desired level of success for particular goal today, we will learn much more, thus, increasing our chances for succeeding in that goal and in general tomorrow. Plus, even, if we will not be have our survey papers published in a respectable outlet any time soon (while that IMHO should be one of the goals), we will obtain a much better understanding of the whole field of study (or subject domain) as well as gain an excellent practice in academic writing, which is very valuable on its own ("practice makes perfect").

Now, I will cover briefly some specific aspects that are related to your question. Firstly, we need to understand that there are no ready-to-use, step-by-step recipes for success, in general, and for writing good survey papers, in particular. Sure, there are some guidelines and templates (which are indeed helpful), however, the quality of a survey paper is IMHO dependent on a variety of factors beyond those aids, such as a potential author's knowledge and understanding of a field of study, research stream of subject domain, their abilities for writing clearly and concisely as well as constructing a mental picture of a large body of research and synthesizing from it, often creating rather complex conceptual frameworks. There exist papers that demonstrate how to do that; in particular, for example, for the information systems discipline, see papers by Webster & Watson (2002) as well as by Levy & Ellis (2006). However, again, it is one thing to see how something should be done and another to do that yourself. Another issue that we need to be aware of is that approaches for writing survey papers are quite different across disciplines and/or fields of study.

Secondly, we need to understand that writing a survey paper is not the same as performing a systematic review or a meta-analysis (by the way, they are often confused as similar things, which they are not, despite some overlap). We need to understand that meta-analysis is a statistical toolset, whereas systematic review is a type of study, which might or might not use the former.

Thirdly, depending on the discipline or field of study (as well as on the author and journal/editor), a survey paper might be closer in its form to a narrative review, rather than a systematic one. While systematic reviews are often regarded as more rigorous approach to covering a topic, they are not without their shortcomings. In fact, good narrative reviews might be as valuable, if not more, to science and research community, as their systematic counterparts. See this paper for some details.


Levy, Y., & Ellis, T. J. (2006). A systems approach to conduct an effective literature review in support of information systems research. Informing Science, 9, 181-212. Retrieved from http://www.inform.nu/Articles/Vol9/V9p181-212Levy99.pdf

Webster, J., & Watson, R. T. (2002). Analyzing the past to prepare for the future: Writing a literature review. MIS Quarterly, 26(2), 13-23. Retrieved from https://web.njit.edu/~egan/Writing_A_Literature_Review.pdf

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    A narrative review and a systematic review aren't mutually exclusive - systematic is about how you approach the evidence, narrative is about how you present your findings (as opposed to eg meta-analytic)
    – rhialto
    Aug 8, 2015 at 13:48
  • @user2956063: In general, I agree with your point. However, that is not always true: one, who knows a specific field of study and the corresponding research landscape very well, can craft a narrative review without formally performing a systematic literature review. In other words, while a narrative review can (and usually does) contain some systematic approach to reviewing literature, it might be so informal that using the term "systematic" does not make much sense in those cases. Aug 8, 2015 at 22:36
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    @AleksandrBlekh sorry but you didn't really answer the question. The OP asked a very specific question, I think your answer provides interesting info but it's a bit too broad. Jul 12, 2016 at 12:10
  • @user4050: Thank you for your kind words. I'm not claiming that my answer is the perfect or even a comprehensive one. However, it seems that the OP was happy with it, since it was accepted. Also, remember that, in addition to a specific question in the title, there are other questions in the question's details, which might have been addressed in my answer. Having said that, feel free to offer a better answer and I will be happy to upvote it. :-) Jul 12, 2016 at 21:29

Take a look at the PRISMA statement - http://www.prisma-statement.org - It's very biomedical - so may not directly apply in your area - but I think that most of the guidance it gives can be generically applied.

You need to be clear about what you intend to write. In the medical world there is a clear difference between 'reviews' where an author picks papers he likes to support a particular point of view, and 'systematic reviews' where the literature as a whole is analysed in a systematic repeatable way. The former (reviews) essentially have no academic value or credibility beyond sometimes being useful for assisting the learning of undergraduates. The kudos lies with systematic reviews.

I'd certainly expect a review article to discuss previous reviews in the same area - pointing out their strengths and weaknesses, and making clear what the new review adds... Because if it doesn't add anything what was the point of you writing it or me reading it?

I'd also expect to see your opinions on the evidence you've reviewed - but a good review will source and present that evidence in such a way (eg systematically) that the reader can decide for themselves whether they agree with you, rather than having to take your opinions and analysis on trust.

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