Overrepresentation of Reviews in the Modern Scientific Papers

To create a compelling scientific paper, a student must conduct in-depth research, study and assess a variety of sources, and write his own work based on the collected materials, as well as on your own opinion and findings.

In fact, writing any academic paper requires using external sources. No matter if you were assigned to make a casual essay, Wuthering Heights summary, research paper, or a dissertation – in any case, you will need to refer to at least some sources to justify and support your ideas.

Appropriate Use of Sources in the Modern Scientific Papers

Both what sources you’ve chosen and HOW you used them will influence the overall quality of the work. Therefore, one thing all students should keep in mind is that they should not use different sources thoughtlessly.
In a nutshell, you can divide all existing sources into two main categories – primary and secondary ones. Obviously, primary ones are more trusted and bring more value to your work, which is why it makes sense to refer to them more than to secondary ones.
Also, there are different types of sources, including:
      Scholarly journals;
      Magazines and news;
      Professional publications;
      Books;
      Government documents;
      Other scientific papers;
      Reviews;
      Websites, etc.
In this article, we are going to focus on one particular type of source – reviews and its use in modern scientific papers. Let’s dive in!

What Is a Review?

As you can easily understand from its name, a review article is created to review something. In particular, we are talking about examining existing research studies on a particular topic or discipline. The main goals of this piece are to provide the reader with unbiased data on the past work conducted within a particular area of study, as well as to organize and synthesize recent knowledge.
How and when can it come in handy, you may ask? In essence, well-represented articles can come in handy on numerous occasions. First of all, studying such pieces can give you a good insight into a particular subject matter. Reading such an article, you get a synopsis of multiple studies on the same topic in one place, which can significantly save your time as you won’t have to look for those studies and their results on your own.
Secondly, focusing on evaluating several research studies simultaneously, such articles can reflect on their quality and objectively define which findings are valid and which are not.
When to use such articles? Here are a few specific cases in which using such sources is completely justified:
      Choice of topic. When selecting a suitable topic for a scientific paper you also need to do some research on different subjects. In this case, reading a few articles makes sense to get a clearer idea of the topic, not having to waste too much time on this. Besides, such articles are often used to define whether there is a need for further research, which is also important at the stage of topic choice as you need to ensure that your study will be relevant and will contribute to expanding the existing knowledge of the matter.
      Primary research. As was mentioned earlier, providing a synopsis of multiple works, these articles can come in handy at the early stages of your research to find out what has already been done in a specific area, what findings were made, and what points still need further research.
      In-paper reference. You can refer to review articles in your own work. However, it is not recommended to rely on them too much. Often, the best way to use it in your paper (and ensure it brings value) is by presenting them to state what objectives have been achieved in the past and how those results are communicated.

Why Overrepresentation of Reviews Is Bad Practice

Once again, such pieces are created to overview past studies on a particular subject and then present key findings and results clearly and accurately. Such pieces help you get an insight into different theories and results. Thus, reviews can significantly speed up the accumulation and assimilation of materials. But they are not exhaustive sources of information. Thus, to continue research in a particular field, you can’t focus mostly on them, you will actually need more resources.
How can it affect the quality of your work? To a student, it may sound tempting to refer to a number of reviews (each of which covers several studies) instead of digging deeper, finding and analyzing each of those studies separately. Indeed, it can make sense and be quite handy to use such sources. However, it will only make a positive effect if you don’t rely on such pieces heavily.
First of all, citations used in scientific work are often used to measure a scientist’s individual research output. The number and quality of citations can help your professor or scientific advisor to analyze how deep your research was and how much effort you put into it. Obviously, if your citations mostly consist of review articles, it can make your individual research output seem less significant than it actually is.
Similarly to the use of an insufficient amount of sources or overuse of invalid secondary sources, relying too hard on reviews can negatively influence the quality and, thus, the final assessment of the work. As a rule, such an approach will result in a lack of depth and scientific value, which in most cases equals a failure.
If you want to avoid issues with your scientific papers, here is a thing to keep in mind – a review is not an original study. Although these pieces are used to examine previous research studies and collect the main data and evidence from them, they are not in-depth. Such articles include an insufficient amount of details and by no means can give you a full image of the previous studies.
These are the main reasons that confirm how the overrepresentation of reviews in scientific papers can do more harm than good.

How to Avoid It?

Despite all the cons of using these articles as primary sources for scientific works, researchers keep using them quite often. Overrepresentation of reviews in modern scientific papers is a real thing. According to stats, reviews tend to be cited 3 times more than original studies, which proves that the issue exists.
What can you do to avoid overrepresentation of such articles in your works? The answer is simple, you should be focusing on using valuable, in-depth, primary sources, over broad ones. You may still use reviews to your benefit as to define if there is a need to continue research in a particular field or to get familiar with the scope of work that has been already done and the results that were achieved. Just use them wisely!