My field is chemistry and I have had successful postdoc experiences for four years. Next year I want to apply for a tenure-track assistant professor position.

My supervisor says review articles are very very important (if not mandatory) for a full professor position. Therefore, they can be impressive for an assistant professor application. He advises me to focus on writing 2 review articles in the next months instead of research works because this can increase my chance. He says 1 review article is more important than 5 research articles in a job application.

Considering the fact that writing review articles is very time-consuming. Is it worth of my time to focus on 2 strong review articles?

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    Please explain your terminology, as I'm not familiar with "review article". Is this what another field might call a "survey" or something else? If a survey, I'd be very surprised that would carry more weight than original research, but it's not my field... Apr 10, 2017 at 18:29
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    This seems like odd advice for fields I'm familiar with, but there is so much variability in fields that it wouldn't really surprise me if this were true in your specific area. You'll definitely want to prefer advice from professors experienced on hiring committees in your specific area of chemistry. It's just the first time I've ever heard of such a strategy, so it does seem...'curious'.
    – BrianH
    Apr 10, 2017 at 20:03
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    Look at the CVs of some new hires in your field in some target universities. That could be a reality check for you. // Seems like strange advice to me too -- a strong review article is usually written by someone with an extensive publication record and a panoramic view of the field or subfield. Four years' of postdoc work, no matter how strong, would typically not be enough to be at that point yet. // Suggestion: judging from your writing style evidenced by your question, it could be helpful for you to work on English writing skills as Apr 11, 2017 at 1:15
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    The "review" in "review article" refers to a review of a specific topic within a specialty. They are exceedingly efficient ways to learn which means that they are extremely efficient ways to build up the reference power of an author if done well. Yes, in this context, it is a peer-reviewed publication.
    – The Nate
    Apr 11, 2017 at 2:33
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    "Which means that they are extremely efficient ways to build up the reference power of an author if done well." I didn't quite understand what you meant by this. Like @BrianDHall, I find the idea that compiling a lot of other people's work would be more prestigious than doing your own original work a bit strange. Apr 11, 2017 at 3:01

1 Answer 1


I will say, in Physics, I have never heard this advice. I will also say that I have never, ever, heard anything resembling "1 review article is more important than 5 research articles in a job application." I've been impressed by seeing a review when it is Nature, Science, or Rev. Mod. Phys. - though of course it often indicates the advisor's reputation, rather than the candidate's. However, I can also think of a few times when it makes sense to dedicate some efforts to review articles rather than original research, and I did end up writing one as I was applying for jobs.

1) You have been invited to write a review by a journal with a decent reputation in your field. Doing so demonstrates you are taken seriously by the field, and scientists care about your opinion.

2) You are a few months from a job/grant application, and you think you can write/publish the review within this time, but probably won't be able to publish a significant original research article before the application goes in. A review is better than nothing.

3) Your research plans for the future are focused on an emerging field, and your review gives you a chance to both plant your flag and emphasize how important that field is to a broader audience.

If all three points are mostly there, and there aren't other major holes in your CV/application (teaching, details of your research plan, grant-writing), consider it! Beware, though - I found out writing a good review takes more time than you expect, so Point #2 might not be a slam dunk.

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