On reading a book…

§          Then read the entire book thoroughly. It will make more sense if you have a preview of major themes and ideas.

§          After each chapter, review the main themes and ideas in that chapter and jot down these points.

§          Imagine, as you read the book, that you are having a discussion with the author. Ask questions of the author and see if you are satisfied with the answers in the book.

On writing the review…

  • Reviews should include concise statements of the subject matter, problems, or issues to which the books are directed.
  • Essays should include brief summaries of the authors' major arguments and conclusions and a discussion of the manner in which they developed their conclusions.
  • Reviews should also include a discussion, with explanations, of the books' strengths and weaknesses.
  • Finally, no review would be complete without a discussion and explanation of the extent to which each book contributes to our knowledge and understanding of History.

Keep in mind…

§          One of the primary criteria by which any written paper is evaluated is its clarity and conciseness of communication. Edit and proofread your paper carefully. It is most unlikely that a "first draft" effort will satisfy this criterion.

§          Define clearly any key terms used by the author of the book.

§          Provide sufficient examples and evidence to support your conclusions and generalizations.

§          The review essay should be approximately ten typewritten pages in length.

§          All review essays must be typed and double-spaced in a standard font (preferably 12 cpi), with a 1-inch margin on all sides.

§          Examples of book reviews and review essays can be found in various historical journals or by consulting the Book Review Digest or Current Book Review Citations .   Also, there are numerous websites that are devoted exclusively to the works of Art Spiegelman and Eli Wiesel. These "sample" reviews and websites are to be used only for general guidance; they are not to be employed as a source for specific ideas to be included in your review.

§          Minimize the use of direct quotations from the book being reviewed. If you must quote the author directly be sure that the quotation is placed in quotation marks and that you indicate the page on which the quotation is found.

§          This is a book review essay, not a book report. Do not simply summarize the books on a chapter-by-chapter basis.

You might consider…

§          What was life in Auschwitz like? What was the worst thing about it?

§          How was life in Auschwitz organized? Can you describe a social order or hierarchy?

§          What are the Germans at Auschwitz like? What motivated them?

§          What is the psychological impact of life in the camp?

§          In light of Night and This Way for the Gas... , what does Maus do that pure text narratives cannot? In what ways do Spiegelman's crude drawings help us visualize things that words alone might be unable to portray?

§          One of the problems inherent in representing human beings as cats and mice is that animals have a narrower range of facial expression. Are Spiegelman's animals as emotionally expressive as human characters might be? If so, what means does the cartoonist use to endow his mice and cats with "human" characteristics?

§          Maus contains several moments of comedy.   Most of these take place during the exchanges between Artie, Vladek, and Mala.   Can you identify similar humor within Borowski's or Wiesel’s work?   What is the effect of this humor? Was it inaccurate or "wrong" of Borowski, Spiegelman or Wiesel to have included such episodes within their respective tales?

§          Most art and literature about the Holocaust is governed by certain unspoken rules. Among these are the notions that the Holocaust must be portrayed as an utterly unique event; that it must be depicted with scrupulous accuracy, and with the utmost seriousness, so as not to obscure its enormity or dishonor its dead. In what way does Maus , Night , and This Way for the Gas obey, violate, or disprove these "rules"?

The Paper Experts Page Right

Review Essays for the Biological Sciences

A review essay for the biological sciences serves to discuss and synthesize key findings on a particular subject. Review papers are helpful to the writer and their colleagues in gaining critical awareness in specialized fields that may or may not be their own.

This guide explains what a review essay is and identifies several approaches to writing a review essay. Although much of the information is geared directly to the biological sciences, it is generally applicable to review essays in all fields.

What is a Review Essay?

A review essay is a synthesis of primary sources (mainly research papers presented in academic journals) on a given topic. A biological review essay demonstrates that the writer has thorough understanding of the literature and can formulate a useful analysis. While no new research is presented by the writer, the field benefits from the review by recieving a new perspective. There are several approaches one may take when writing a biological review:

A State of the art review

A state of the art review considers mainly the most current research in a given area. The review may offer new perspectives on an issue or point out an area in need of further research.

A Historical review

A historical review is a survey of the development of a particular field of study. It may examine the early stages of the field, key findings to present, key theoretical models and their evolution, etc.

A Comparison of perspectives review

A comparison of perspectives review contrasts various ways of looking at a certain topic. If in fact there is a debate over some process or idea, a comparison of perspectives review may illustrate the research that supports both sides. A comparison of perspectives review may introduce a new perspective by way of comparing it to another.

A Synthesis of two fields review

Many times researchers in different fields may be working on similar problems. A synthesis of two fields review provides insights into a given topic based on a review of the literature from two or more disciplines.

A Theoretical model building review

A theoretical model building review examines the literature within a given area with the intention of developing new theoretical assumptions.

Key considerations for writing a biological review essay

This guide will inform you of certain things not to miss when writing a review essay. It will also give you some information about using and documenting your sources.

Keep your focus narrow.

When writing a review essay it is important to keep the scope of the topic narrow enough so that you can discuss it thoroughly. For example a topic such as air quality in factories could be narrowed significantly to something like carbon dioxide levels in auto manufacturing plants .

A good way to narrow your focus is to start with a broad topic that is of some interest to you, then read some of the literature in the field. Look for a thread of the discussion that points to a more specific topic.

Analyze, synthesize, and interpret.

A review essay is not a pure summary of the information you read for your review. You are required to analyze, synthesize, and interpret the information you read in some meaningful way.

It is not enough to simply present the material you have found, you must go beyond that and explain its relevance and significance to the topic at hand.

Establish a clear thesis from the onset of your writing and examine which pieces of your reading help you in developing and supporting the ideas in your thesis.

Use only academic sources.

A review essay reviews the academic body of literature—articles and research presented in academic journals. Lay periodicals such as, Discover , Scientific America , or Popular Science , are not adequate sources for an academic review essay.

If you are having trouble finding the academic journals in your field, ask one of your professors or a reference librarian.

Document your sources.

The material that you discuss in a review essay is obviously not your own, therefore it is crucial to document your sources properly. Proper documentation is crucial for two reasons: 1. It prevents the writer from being accused of plagiarism and 2. It gives the reader the opportunity to locate the sources the writer has reviewed because they may find them valuable in their own academic pursuits. Proper documentation depends on which style guide you are following.

Quote sparingly and properly.

No one wants to read a paper that is simply a string of quotes; reserve direct quotations for when you want to create a big impact. Often times the way a quote is written will not fit with the language or the style of your paper so paraphrase the authors words carefully and verbage as necessary to create a well formed paragraph.

Choose an informative title.

The title you choose for your review essay should give some indication of what lies ahead for the reader. You might consider the process you took in narrowing your topic to help you with your title—think of the title as something specific rather than a vague representation of your paper's topic. For example the title Wastewater Treatment might be more informative if rewritten as The Removal of Cloroform Bacteria as Practiced by California's Municipal Water Treatment Facilities .

Consider your audience.

More than likely your audience will be your academic peers, therefore you can make a couple assumptions and choose a writing style that suits the audience. Though your audience may lack the detailed knowledge you have about your topic, they do have similar background knowledge to you. You can assume that you audience understands much of the technical language you have to use to write about your topic and you do not have to go into great detail about background information.

Elements of a review essay

This guide explains each section of a review essay and gives specific information about what should be included in each.

On the title page include the title, your name, and the date. Your instructor may have additional requirements (such as the course number, etc.) so be sure to follow the guidelines on the assignment sheet. Professional journals may also have more specific requirements for the title page.

An abstract is a brief summary of your review. The abstract should include only the main points of your review. Think of the abstract as a chance for the reader to preview your paper and decide if they want to read on for the details.


The introduction of your review should accomplish three things:

  • It may sound redundant to "introduce" your topic in the introduction, but often times writer's fail to do so. Let the reader in on background information specific to the topic, define terms that may be unfamiliar to them, explain the scope of the discussion, and your purpose for writing the review.
  • Think of your review essay as a statement in the larger conversation of your academic community. Your review is your way of entering into that conversation and it is important to briefly address why your review is relevant to the discussion. You may feel the relevance is obvious because you are so familiar with the topic, but your readers have not yet established that familiarity.
  • The thesis is the main idea that you want to get across to your reader. your thesis should be a clear statement of what you intend to prove or illustrate by your review. By revealing your thesis in the introduction the reader knows what to expect in the rest of the paper.

The discussion section is the body of your paper. The discussion section contains information that develops and supports your thesis. While there is no particular form that a discussion section must take there are several considerations that a writer must follow when building a discussion.

  • A review essay is not simply a summary of literature you have reviewed. Be careful not to leave out your own analysis of the ideas presented in the literature. Synthesize the material from all the works—what are the connections you see, or the connections you are trying to illustrate, among your readings.

A review essay is not a pure summary of the information you read for your review. You are required to analyze, synthesize, and interpret the information you read in some meaningful way. It is not enough to simply present the material you have found, you must go beyond that and explain its relevance and significance to the topic at hand. Establish a clear thesis from the onset of your writing and examine which pieces of your reading help you in developing and supporting the ideas in your thesis.

  • Keep your discussion focused on your topic and more importantly your thesis. Don't let tangents or extraneous material get in the way of a concise, coherent discussion. A well focused paper is crucial in getting your message across to your reader.
  • Keeping your points organized makes it easier for the reader to follow along and make sense of your review. Start each paragraph with a topic sentence that relates back to your thesis. The headings used for this guide give you some idea of how to organize the overall paper, but as far as the discussion section goes use meaningful subheadings that relate to your content to organize your points.
  • Your thesis should illustrate your objectives in writing the review and your discussion should serve to accomplish your objectives. Make sure your keep your discussion related to the thesis in order to meet your objectives. If you find that your discussion does not relate so much to your thesis, don't panic, you might want to revise your thesis instead of reworking the discussion.


Because the conclusions section often gets left for last it is often the weakest part of a student review essay. It is as crucial a part of the paper as any and should be treated as such.

A good conclusion should illustrate the key connections between your major points and your thesis as well as they key connections between your thesis and the broader discussion—what is the significance of your paper in a larger context? Make some conclusions —where have you arrived as a result of writing this paper?

Be careful not to present any new information in the conclusion section.

Here you report all the works you have cited in your paper. The format for a references page varies by discipline as does how you should cite your references within the paper.

Citation Information

Neal Bastek. (1994-2023). Review Essays for the Biological Sciences. The WAC Clearinghouse. Colorado State University. Available at

Copyright Information

Copyright © 1994-2023 Colorado State University and/or this site's authors, developers, and contributors . Some material displayed on this site is used with permission.

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Review Essay: Meaning, Structure, Tips

Meaning of a review essay.

A review essay shows a writer’s feelings and opinions on the major themes and messages that an author tries to pass across in a piece of literature. It is a critical discussion and evaluation of a book where the writer’s opinion about the book is supported by concrete evidence from the book.

The review essay should be based on the opinions or analysis of other writers about the book. It requires two stages which are: developing an argument about the essay and writing a well-organized review. It can also be defined as the review of two or more readings covered in a course.

The purpose of this essay is to show students that they understand the arguments and main points of readings and also organize them into a coherent, integrated and thematic fashion. This type of essay does not aim to develop your research skills, thus, you are not expected to make research outside the papers you have been given. The key purpose of the paper is to develop your analytical and writing skills.

Oftentimes, the writings or readings that are to be reviewed by students are based on different topics thus the major challenge faced by students writing review essays is to find and make connections between these topics and make these writings speak to each other by reorganizing them focusing on a specific part of these writings. To do this, you have to present an argument that makes this reading to be in agreement and full dialogue with each other. Your intellectual ability is the major thing that is required for you to be able to do this. The aim is for you to try to come up with a central theme that runs through the text itself and while reviewing the readings the theme is still fully interpreted.

Important things you need to do before you start writing the introduction to the review essay. 

1. Come up With a Title

The title should show and reflect the focus of the whole essay. Decide between a declarative, descriptive or interrogative title.

2. Cite the Articles you are Working on

You must let your reader know the articles that your reviews are based upon. The citation of the article should be just below the title of the article, and it should be done properly. Do not skip a line between the citation and the first sentence.

3. Identify the Articles

Start your review by referring to the title and author of the article, the title of the journal and the year of publication in the first paragraph. Doing this will give anybody reading your review essay background information about what your essay is based on.

Structure of a Review Essay.

Just like all other types of essays, the structure of a review essay also consists of The Introduction, The Body and The Conclusion. 

• Introduction

The introduction should start with an identification sentence. The central theme and claims of the article or articles that you are reviewing should be mentioned here. Also, you need to put the thesis statement in the introduction. Here, the thesis statement can have more than one central idea. Since it might not be clearly stated in the article you are reviewing, you should try to come up with a suitable one that summarizes the major theme of your essay. The introduction should not be more than 10%-25% of the whole essay. It should be concluded with the thesis statement which should be on the last line of the introductory paragraph.

This is where you express your main points, arguments, and findings of the article in your own words, referring to the summary of the article for assistance. Show the reader how the article supports its claims and make your conclusions on the article. When you are writing the body of the essay, avoid writing in the first person pronouns and also do not cover specific examples, statistics or background information familiar to the experts in the field.

After you have read and understood the article correctly, use your knowledge to points out whether the article is clear and concise. Support your claims with evidence from the article, you can even use quotes from the article to back up your points. You can also show if the information provided by the author supports the main arguments of the essay. Identify a situation where the author has been biased and decide generally if you agree with the author or not and then give reasons for your decision.

• The conclusion

Examples of review essay topics:.

1. Acceleration is a vector quantity

2. Anthropology article review

3. Geiger’s article

4. Japanese art appreciation

5. Three idiots.

You can base your article on any literary piece of your choice and choose the topic you think is best for the essay.

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how to start a review essay

how to start a review essay

How to Write an Article Review: Tips and Examples

how to start a review essay

Did you know that article reviews are not just academic exercises but also a valuable skill in today's information age? In a world inundated with content, being able to dissect and evaluate articles critically can help you separate the wheat from the chaff. Whether you're a student aiming to excel in your coursework or a professional looking to stay well-informed, mastering the art of writing article reviews is an invaluable skill.

Short Description

In this article, our research paper writing service experts will start by unraveling the concept of article reviews and discussing the various types. You'll also gain insights into the art of formatting your review effectively. To ensure you're well-prepared, we'll take you through the pre-writing process, offering tips on setting the stage for your review. But it doesn't stop there. You'll find a practical example of an article review to help you grasp the concepts in action. To complete your journey, we'll guide you through the post-writing process, equipping you with essential proofreading techniques to ensure your work shines with clarity and precision!

What Is an Article Review: Grasping the Concept 

A review article is a type of professional paper writing that demands a high level of in-depth analysis and a well-structured presentation of arguments. It is a critical, constructive evaluation of literature in a particular field through summary, classification, analysis, and comparison.

If you write a scientific review, you have to use database searches to portray the research. Your primary goal is to summarize everything and present a clear understanding of the topic you've been working on.

Writing Involves:

  • Summarization, classification, analysis, critiques, and comparison.
  • The analysis, evaluation, and comparison require the use of theories, ideas, and research relevant to the subject area of the article.
  • It is also worth nothing if a review does not introduce new information, but instead presents a response to another writer's work.
  • Check out other samples to gain a better understanding of how to review the article.

Types of Review

When it comes to article reviews, there's more than one way to approach the task. Understanding the various types of reviews is like having a versatile toolkit at your disposal. In this section, we'll walk you through the different dimensions of review types, each offering a unique perspective and purpose. Whether you're dissecting a scholarly article, critiquing a piece of literature, or evaluating a product, you'll discover the diverse landscape of article reviews and how to navigate it effectively.

types of article review

Journal Article Review

Just like other types of reviews, a journal article review assesses the merits and shortcomings of a published work. To illustrate, consider a review of an academic paper on climate change, where the writer meticulously analyzes and interprets the article's significance within the context of environmental science.

Research Article Review

Distinguished by its focus on research methodologies, a research article review scrutinizes the techniques used in a study and evaluates them in light of the subsequent analysis and critique. For instance, when reviewing a research article on the effects of a new drug, the reviewer would delve into the methods employed to gather data and assess their reliability.

Science Article Review

In the realm of scientific literature, a science article review encompasses a wide array of subjects. Scientific publications often provide extensive background information, which can be instrumental in conducting a comprehensive analysis. For example, when reviewing an article about the latest breakthroughs in genetics, the reviewer may draw upon the background knowledge provided to facilitate a more in-depth evaluation of the publication.

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Formatting an Article Review

The format of the article should always adhere to the citation style required by your professor. If you're not sure, seek clarification on the preferred format and ask him to clarify several other pointers to complete the formatting of an article review adequately.

How Many Publications Should You Review?

  • In what format should you cite your articles (MLA, APA, ASA, Chicago, etc.)?
  • What length should your review be?
  • Should you include a summary, critique, or personal opinion in your assignment?
  • Do you need to call attention to a theme or central idea within the articles?
  • Does your instructor require background information?

When you know the answers to these questions, you may start writing your assignment. Below are examples of MLA and APA formats, as those are the two most common citation styles.

Using the APA Format

Articles appear most commonly in academic journals, newspapers, and websites. If you write an article review in the APA format, you will need to write bibliographical entries for the sources you use:

  • Web : Author [last name], A.A [first and middle initial]. (Year, Month, Date of Publication). Title. Retrieved from {link}
  • Journal : Author [last name], A.A [first and middle initial]. (Publication Year). Publication Title. Periodical Title, Volume(Issue), pp.-pp.
  • Newspaper : Author [last name], A.A [first and middle initial]. (Year, Month, Date of Publication). Publication Title. Magazine Title, pp. xx-xx.

Using MLA Format

  • Web : Last, First Middle Initial. “Publication Title.” Website Title. Website Publisher, Date Month Year Published. Web. Date Month Year Accessed.
  • Newspaper : Last, First M. “Publication Title.” Newspaper Title [City] Date, Month, Year Published: Page(s). Print.
  • Journal : Last, First M. “Publication Title.” Journal Title Series Volume. Issue (Year Published): Page(s). Database Name. Web. Date Month Year Accessed.

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The Pre-Writing Process

Facing this task for the first time can really get confusing and can leave you unsure of where to begin. To create a top-notch article review, start with a few preparatory steps. Here are the two main stages from our dissertation services to get you started:

Step 1: Define the right organization for your review. Knowing the future setup of your paper will help you define how you should read the article. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Summarize the article — seek out the main points, ideas, claims, and general information presented in the article.
  • Define the positive points — identify the strong aspects, ideas, and insightful observations the author has made.
  • Find the gaps —- determine whether or not the author has any contradictions, gaps, or inconsistencies in the article and evaluate whether or not he or she used a sufficient amount of arguments and information to support his or her ideas.
  • Identify unanswered questions — finally, identify if there are any questions left unanswered after reading the piece.

Step 2: Move on and review the article. Here is a small and simple guide to help you do it right:

  • Start off by looking at and assessing the title of the piece, its abstract, introductory part, headings and subheadings, opening sentences in its paragraphs, and its conclusion.
  • First, read only the beginning and the ending of the piece (introduction and conclusion). These are the parts where authors include all of their key arguments and points. Therefore, if you start with reading these parts, it will give you a good sense of the author's main points.
  • Finally, read the article fully.

These three steps make up most of the prewriting process. After you are done with them, you can move on to writing your own review—and we are going to guide you through the writing process as well.

Outline and Template

As you progress with reading your article, organize your thoughts into coherent sections in an outline. As you read, jot down important facts, contributions, or contradictions. Identify the shortcomings and strengths of your publication. Begin to map your outline accordingly.

If your professor does not want a summary section or a personal critique section, then you must alleviate those parts from your writing. Much like other assignments, an article review must contain an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Thus, you might consider dividing your outline according to these sections as well as subheadings within the body. If you find yourself troubled with the pre-writing and the brainstorming process for this assignment, seek out a sample outline.

Your custom essay must contain these constituent parts:

  • Pre-Title Page - Before diving into your review, start with essential details: article type, publication title, and author names with affiliations (position, department, institution, location, and email). Include corresponding author info if needed.
  • Running Head - In APA format, use a concise title (under 40 characters) to ensure consistent formatting.
  • Summary Page - Optional but useful. Summarize the article in 800 words, covering background, purpose, results, and methodology, avoiding verbatim text or references.
  • Title Page - Include the full title, a 250-word abstract, and 4-6 keywords for discoverability.
  • Introduction - Set the stage with an engaging overview of the article.
  • Body - Organize your analysis with headings and subheadings.
  • Works Cited/References - Properly cite all sources used in your review.
  • Optional Suggested Reading Page - If permitted, suggest further readings for in-depth exploration.
  • Tables and Figure Legends (if instructed by the professor) - Include visuals when requested by your professor for clarity.

Example of an Article Review

You might wonder why we've dedicated a section of this article to discuss an article review sample. Not everyone may realize it, but examining multiple well-constructed examples of review articles is a crucial step in the writing process. In the following section, our essay writing service experts will explain why.

Looking through relevant article review examples can be beneficial for you in the following ways:

  • To get you introduced to the key works of experts in your field.
  • To help you identify the key people engaged in a particular field of science.
  • To help you define what significant discoveries and advances were made in your field.
  • To help you unveil the major gaps within the existing knowledge of your field—which contributes to finding fresh solutions.
  • To help you find solid references and arguments for your own review.
  • To help you generate some ideas about any further field of research.
  • To help you gain a better understanding of the area and become an expert in this specific field.
  • To get a clear idea of how to write a good review.

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Steps for Writing an Article Review

Here is a guide with critique paper format on how to write a review paper:

steps for article review

Step 1: Write the Title

First of all, you need to write a title that reflects the main focus of your work. Respectively, the title can be either interrogative, descriptive, or declarative.

Step 2: Cite the Article

Next, create a proper citation for the reviewed article and input it following the title. At this step, the most important thing to keep in mind is the style of citation specified by your instructor in the requirements for the paper. For example, an article citation in the MLA style should look as follows:

Author's last and first name. "The title of the article." Journal's title and issue(publication date): page(s). Print

Abraham John. "The World of Dreams." Virginia Quarterly 60.2(1991): 125-67. Print.

Step 3: Article Identification

After your citation, you need to include the identification of your reviewed article:

  • Title of the article
  • Title of the journal
  • Year of publication

All of this information should be included in the first paragraph of your paper.

The report "Poverty increases school drop-outs" was written by Brian Faith – a Health officer – in 2000.

Step 4: Introduction

Your organization in an assignment like this is of the utmost importance. Before embarking on your writing process, you should outline your assignment or use an article review template to organize your thoughts coherently.

  • If you are wondering how to start an article review, begin with an introduction that mentions the article and your thesis for the review.
  • Follow up with a summary of the main points of the article.
  • Highlight the positive aspects and facts presented in the publication.
  • Critique the publication by identifying gaps, contradictions, disparities in the text, and unanswered questions.

Step 5: Summarize the Article

Make a summary of the article by revisiting what the author has written about. Note any relevant facts and findings from the article. Include the author's conclusions in this section.

Step 6: Critique It

Present the strengths and weaknesses you have found in the publication. Highlight the knowledge that the author has contributed to the field. Also, write about any gaps and/or contradictions you have found in the article. Take a standpoint of either supporting or not supporting the author's assertions, but back up your arguments with facts and relevant theories that are pertinent to that area of knowledge. Rubrics and templates can also be used to evaluate and grade the person who wrote the article.

Step 7: Craft a Conclusion

In this section, revisit the critical points of your piece, your findings in the article, and your critique. Also, write about the accuracy, validity, and relevance of the results of the article review. Present a way forward for future research in the field of study. Before submitting your article, keep these pointers in mind:

  • As you read the article, highlight the key points. This will help you pinpoint the article's main argument and the evidence that they used to support that argument.
  • While you write your review, use evidence from your sources to make a point. This is best done using direct quotations.
  • Select quotes and supporting evidence adequately and use direct quotations sparingly. Take time to analyze the article adequately.
  • Every time you reference a publication or use a direct quotation, use a parenthetical citation to avoid accidentally plagiarizing your article.
  • Re-read your piece a day after you finish writing it. This will help you to spot grammar mistakes and to notice any flaws in your organization.
  • Use a spell-checker and get a second opinion on your paper.

The Post-Writing Process: Proofread Your Work

Finally, when all of the parts of your article review are set and ready, you have one last thing to take care of — proofreading. Although students often neglect this step, proofreading is a vital part of the writing process and will help you polish your paper to ensure that there are no mistakes or inconsistencies.

To proofread your paper properly, start by reading it fully and checking the following points:

  • Punctuation
  • Other mistakes

Afterward, take a moment to check for any unnecessary information in your paper and, if found, consider removing it to streamline your content. Finally, double-check that you've covered at least 3-4 key points in your discussion.

And remember, if you ever need help with proofreading, rewriting your essay, or even want to buy essay , our friendly team is always here to assist you.

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Your Step-By-Step Guide To Writing An Academic Essay (& Review Checklist)

High school student writing in a notebook.

Writing a formal essay can be scary! It requires a lot more work and research than other assignments, and there are many rules to follow when writing it. It’s difficult to know where to start, and even the thought of writing it can be stressful.

However, with the right information and tips or even with the aid of services like the essay writing service reddit , preparing and writing your essay becomes a lot easier. Check out our guide for essay writing below to help you write a paper you can be proud to hand in.

Before You Start Writing The Essay

1. pick your topic.

Unless your teacher has given you a very specific topic, you will need to pick one. If possible, choose a topic that interests you. Once you have a topic in mind, narrow it down to make your paper more specific. You want to be able to prove a point with your chosen topic.

Example: “Golden Retrievers as therapy dogs” is too broad of a topic. A topic that is narrower, such as, “Golden retrievers as therapy dogs for residents in nursing homes” keeps your research and ideas focused.

2. Determine Your Thesis Statement

Your thesis statement is the main point you are trying to prove in your essay—it ties all of your ideas and arguments together into one or two concise sentences. A good thesis statement gives your reader a preview of what you will be discussing in the body of your essay.

Example: Golden Retrievers are ideal therapy dogs for seniors in nursing homes because they provide emotional support and companionship to residents.

How To Write A Strong Thesis Statement

  • Ask yourself, what are you trying to say about your topic in your paper? Is there something you are trying to prove?
  • Focus these ideas into one or two sentences.
  • Make sure you introduce your topic and give the reader an idea of the direction you are taking. Include your topic/opinion and your supporting arguments/reasons.
  • Finally, make sure you are able to back up your thesis with evidence/supporting resources.

3. Find Sources

Once you have an idea of what you want to say in your essay, start finding sources you can use to back up your points. Aim to have at least 2-3 credible sources in your paper, unless your teacher says otherwise.

Some examples of sources include:

  • Published articles
  • Encyclopedias
  • Academic Journals

Always check with your teacher to find out what kind of sources he or she is looking for. Once you have found (and read) your sources, take note of pieces of information you think could back up your thesis.

4. Create An Outline

Creating an outline of your essay will help make the writing process much easier. It is a way to organize your thoughts and structure them in a way that makes sense. Try to come up with three arguments that support your thesis. These arguments will form the body of your essay.

Example: Arguments to support the thesis could be:

  • Golden Retrievers can sense emotion in humans.
  • Golden Retrievers are highly intelligent and easy to train.
  • Golden Retrievers are more calm and gentle than other breeds of dogs.

Writing Your Essay

All essays, regardless of length, have an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Each of these sections serve a different purpose in your paper.

The Introduction

The introduction of an essay is one paragraph that introduces your topic and gives an overview of what will be discussed in the body of the paper.

The introductory paragraph is where you will state your thesis and the arguments that you will be presenting in the body of the essay. Avoid talking about the conclusion or findings in the introductory paragraph—you will be discussing those in the rest of the essay.

Helpful Tip: Even though it appears at the top of your essay, write your introduction last. This way, you can summarize the rest of your essay easily—it’s difficult to summarize something you haven’t written yet!

The body of your essay is where you present your arguments/evidence that back up your thesis. Each paragraph in your essay should have:

  • A topic sentence: What is this paragraph about? What are you trying to prove in this paragraph?
  • Supporting sentences: How can you back up the topic sentence? What sources can you use to support your claim?
  • A concluding or transition sentence: How will you keep your reader engaged? How can you link this paragraph to the next?

Every paragraph in your essay should have a unique claim/argument that supports your thesis. Always structure your essay to have the strongest argument in your first paragraph, and the next strongest argument in the final paragraph of the body. Your other argument should be sandwiched between your stronger paragraphs.

The Conclusion

The conclusion is the last paragraph in your essay. This is where you wrap up your findings from your discussion in the body paragraphs.

Start your paragraph by restating your thesis (although not in the exact same words). In a few sentences, summarize your arguments from the body paragraphs, and avoid discussing any new ideas that you didn’t talk about in the body of your essay. Finally, wrap up your findings in one final sentence.

Helpful Tip: Your final sentence should convince your reader that you proved your thesis.


The final page in your essay is the references page (sometimes called the bibliography). This is where you document all the sources you have cited in your paper. There are several different formats that can be used to reference sources, such as APA or MLA style. Your teacher may have specified a certain format he or she would like in your paper. If you are unsure, double-check with your teacher before starting.

Polishing Your Work

After writing the first draft of your essay, take one or two days before you go back and read it so your mind is fresh. Make any changes you think are necessary to improve your paper, such as reordering sentences, adding extra information, or taking out sentences that don’t add value to your arguments.

If possible, ask another person to review your essay for spelling, grammar, and clarity. A second set of eyes is helpful to catch small errors you may have missed.

Helpful Tip: Read your essay out loud to make sure it flows and your sentences are clear.

The Oxford Learning Essay Review Checklist

Use our essay review checklist to make sure your essay is polished and ready to go before the deadline!

Essay Review Checklist

More Essay Writing Tips

  • Don’t force yourself to write your essay in order—start by writing the body of your essay first. Your introduction and conclusion should not be written until the main points of the body are completed first.
  • Don’t plagiarize. Plagiarism is taking other people’s ideas, thoughts, or work and presenting it as your own (or not citing your sources correctly). Always give credit where it is due.
  • There is no such thing as starting too early! Get a head start and prioritize writing your essay so you have plenty of time to review and edit well before the due date.
  • Avoid using slang terms and contractions. These words make your writing appear less formal.

Time To Get Writing!

Writing an essay can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! Give yourself plenty of time to pick your topic, find your sources, and preparing your outline. Once you are happy with your ideas, just start writing! If you begin your essay well before the due date, you will have lots of time to edit and rework your essay. This way you can be confident in your work when it comes time to hand it in.

If you need more help with writing your essay, Oxford Learning is here to help!

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  • An Introduction to Writing Review Articl ...

An Introduction to Writing Review Articles

Posted by Seema Grewal , on 7 April 2020

Last week, I gave a talk (online, of course) about ‘Writing review articles’. It was aimed at graduate students who, as part of their training, had to identify a topic in the field of developmental biology and write a mini-review on that particular topic. However, my talk contained some general advice about writing review-type articles, as well as some general writing tips, so I thought I’d share a summary of it here.

Types of Review articles

I guess the first thing to point out is that review-type articles come in lots of different ‘flavours’. They all vary with regard to length, scope, style and overall purpose, and are given different names by different journals. But they all aim to summarise and distill research findings. This makes them very different to primary research articles, whic h aim to present data, although they are handled in similar way, i.e. they are submitted to a journal and peer-reviewed by 2-3 experts in the field.

how to start a review essay

What’s the purpose of a (good) Review article?

A good review article might aim to:

  • summarise key research findings
  • highlight ‘must-read’ articles in the field
  • act as educational material

However, an excellent review article will also:

  • provide critique of studies
  • highlight areas of agreement as well as controversies and debates
  • point out gaps in knowledge and unanswered questions
  • highlight current technologies that are helping/can help the field
  • suggest directions for future research

But remember that readers are usually a mix of experts and non-experts who will be looking for very different things so a good review will cater for both of these audiences. For example, a graduate student might turn to a review article when they start in a new lab to find out more about the history of a field, or to get a summary of key findings. By contrast, an experienced post-doc or PI might want to read a review written by one of their peers to find out what the current state of thinking in a field is. Ideally, a good review should therefore aim to provide a combination of balanced summaries and critique whilst being authoritative, forward-looking and inspirational. However, note that the exact ‘flavour’ or format of the review will also dictate its purpose, e.g. a ‘Perspective’ article in Journal X might aim to summarise a handful of recent studies, whereas an ‘Essay’ in Journal Y might aim to provide a more comprehensive analysis of the last decade of research.

how to start a review essay

Where to begin?

The first step is to choose the topic you want to write on and come up with a rough idea of the scope of your article. You may already have this in mind but it’s important, before you begin writing, to really nail the exact purpose of your article. To help you do this, I‘d suggest the following:

  • Identify the particular theme/topic/idea that you want to focus on. In most cases, this will be something that’s closely related to the topic you work on, e.g. you might be working on something, or reading up on a particular area, and feel that a review would be helpful. If you need inspiration (i.e. if you want to write but aren’t sure what to write about), read, speak to people, and think about talks you’ve been to. What’s exciting in your field right now? Are there papers that change the way we think about something? Have you seen/read papers that converge on a similar theme/idea?
  • Check that there aren’t already reviews on this topic, i.e. something that’s been published within the past year or so. This is important; no-one wants to read a review that doesn’t offer anything new.
  • Decide if there is enough recent material to include (or too much). At this point, you may need to go back to the drawing board to either expand on or refine the scope of your article. It’s also helpful to read a few reviews (mini-reviews vs longer reviews) to get a feel for how much material a review can cover.
  • Identify and write down the main aim/purpose of your article. What’s the key message you want to get across? Why is this important and timely? Why would people want to read your article?

Note that lots of reviews are commissioned, i.e. the author is invited to write by a journal/editor. So, if you know you want to write a review on a particular topic and have a pretty clear idea of what your review will cover, a good place to start is by contacting a journal to see if they’d consider it. This also then means that you’ll (hopefully) be working alongside an editor from the outset to develop and refine the scope of your article. You’ll also have your target audience, article format and word limit in mind while you’re writing so can tailor the review accordingly.

Before you begin writing

Plan, plan and plan some more! Having worked with authors on review-type articles for years now, I can’t stress this enough.

  • Think about the sections/sub-sections you might use. What material would you cover in each of these? What’s the message of each section? How can you link the sections?
  • Think about the key concepts/words/specialist terms that you need to introduce and define. Where, when and how should you introduce these? (e.g. in Intro, in a figure, in a text box). What needs to be introduced first? What’s the best order in which to discuss these?
  • Think about the display items (figures, text boxes, tables) that might be helpful. How/when should they be used? What material would they contain?

When you start writing

Once you have a plan, you can start writing. I’d suggest that you start with the Title, Abstract and Introduction – these are the first parts that the reader sees of the article so they need careful thought. By starting off with these, you’ll also have the scope/purpose of the article clear in your own mind. You can then work on the main text of the article (the ‘meaty’ bit) and the Conclusions with this scope/purpose in mind, although you’ll need to return to the Title, Abstract and Introduction for a tidy up once you’ve written the main text.

Things to think about:

  • Title, Abstract and Introduction: These should be short and self-contained, and should complement each other. Each one in turn should provide more detail, aiming to draw the reader in. Remember: lots of readers will only read the title and abstract (e.g. when they search for articles in Pubmed) so these basically act as a ‘hook’ to grab their attention. They also need to be ‘discoverable’ on the Web, i.e. database friendly and containing the relevant keywords.
  • Choosing a title: Choose something that is short, clear and self-explanatory; try to avoid puns/idioms and colloquial phrases or references. Try to convey the key message but also provide context.
  • Abstract: The abstract should then aim to highlight the most important parts of the article. The answers to the following 5 questions provide a good starting point: What is the main topic you’re going to focus on? What do we know so far? What is new/why is this now an interesting time for this field? What are the broad implications of these newer findings? What does your review aim to do?
  • Introduction: The Introduction should then expand on the Abstract and set the scene. Provide context by first introducing the topic: why is this topic interesting/significant, what do we know about it so far, how has the field progressed, what has the new progress shown? Ideally, the Introduction should end with a clear description of the article’s scope, aims and structure, i.e. a walk-through of the main topics that will be discussed and the order in which these will be covered. This just lets the reader know what they can expect from the article. If possible, introduce or re-iterate the main ‘message’ of the article.
  • Conclusions: Emphasize the key message or theme of the article and, if needed, reiterate the data that support this message. Highlight the broader significance of this conclusion. Finally, if possible, bring your voice to the article: What do you think are the most compelling questions raised by these studies? What approach(es) could be taken to address these open questions? Are there technical hurdles that need to be overcome? What are the broader implications of this, i.e. why are further studies needed and what benefits might they offer?
  • Display items: Use figures to emphasize or illustrate key concepts/processes, or to introduce or summarize . Remember that figures should ideally act as stand-alone items; you should be able to follow them by eye and without referring to the main text, although each figure should have a clear title and a figure legend the walks the reader through the figure. In general, schematics are easier to follow than images reproduced from primary articles. Tables can be useful for summarizing lots of information, for comparing/contrasting things, or for highlighting advantages and disadvantages. Some journals encourage the use of text boxes, which can house additional or background information or material that is peripheral to the main theme of the text.

General things to think about while you’re writing (and to re-visit before you finish off!)

  • Try to group your discussion into sections/sub-sections. This just helps to break up long chunks of text (and helps to keep the reader interested). If you already have a plan (e.g. a list of headings/sub-headings) this structuring will be much easier.
  • Each section should begin with a small introduction.
  • Each sub-section (and/or even each paragraph) should then have a clear message/point to it, e.g. What question did particular sets/types of studies set out to address? What did these show (and here you can go into the detail)? What could be concluded from these?
  • It’s also helpful to add in a few lines to wrap up each section and ease transition into the next section.
  • Make sure that all statements are adequately supported by a citation. Cite the source/primary article whenever possible (but note that it is okay to cite Reviews for established concepts or to refer to a large body of evidence).
  • Think about the word count and how much can be covered/how much detail you can go in to; you may find that it’s easier to write lots first then trim at a later stage.
  • Avoid regurgitating the conclusions drawn in the papers you cite without giving them some thought.
  • Don’t shy away from discussing findings that contradict each other. It’s better to highlight what can/cannot be reconciled and the possible cause of any discrepancies. Also use this as an opportunity to draw out the questions that remain and discuss how these questions could be addressed.
  • Similarly, remain balanced – make sure you discuss the findings from the field as a whole (and not just the data from a few select labs).
  • Make it clear when you are stating results versus providing speculation or alternative interpretations.
  • Provide critique if you can…but keep it polite and constructive.


  • Remember your audience: the article needs to accessible to expert and non-expert readers alike.
  • Introduce/define/explain specialist terms, cell types, tissues, phrases on first mention.
  • Consider using display items to house any material that a non-expert reader might find useful.
  • Don’t assume the reader knows what you’re thinking and how things link together; you might feel like you’re sometimes stating the obvious but it’s better to do this than to leave readers feeling lost.
  • Stick to using clear and simple sentences…but try to vary the pace of your writing, e.g. by using a mixture of long and short sentences.
  • A general rule is to write as you would speak, using active rather than passive tense/sentence construction.
  • Be thrifty with your words: completely eliminate any that aren’t needed.
  • Avoid vague sentences. For example, say ‘Factor A causes an increase/decrease in Factor B’, rather than ‘Factor A modulates Factor B’.

Importantly, be patient and don’t get frustrated! A good writing style needs to be developed over time and comes with practice. Of all the things highlighted above (structure, content, accessibility and style), I’d say that style is the hardest to really nail. Getting a good and consistent writing style is also challenging if you have multiple authors working on the same article. In this case, I’d recommend that you nominate one author to do a final comb-through to iron out any inconsistencies, although hopefully you’ll have an editor who’ll also assist with this! On this note, I should point out that the amount of input you receive from an editor will vary from journal to journal, e.g. some journals have dedicated editors who spend a significant amount of time, working alongside the authors, to edit and improve a review.

how to start a review essay

Finally, some tips from fellow editors!

We have a bunch of experienced editors here at the Company of Biologists so I asked them all for their key pieces of advice. Here are just some of the things they suggested:

  • Plan, plan, plan – make sure you have a good idea of the overall structure before you think about details
  • Get feedback. Before you submit your review, send it to someone whose opinion you trust and ask them for their honest thoughts. Don’t be discouraged if they give lots of feedback – this is exactly what you want!
  • A review shouldn’t just be a list of facts, e.g. X showed this, Y showed this, Z showed this. A narrative thread or argument that connects is much more engaging.
  • Take time to pull back and look at the overall structure. Does it make sense? Can you see how the ideas join together and flow from beginning to end?
  • Remember that readers aren’t psychic. Explain why you’ve chosen the scope you have, why you’ve chosen to discuss particular examples, why you’re moving on to the next topic. Also make sure you clearly link up relevant observations and state conclusions rather than expecting the reader to make connections.
  • Don’t assume that the reader can link two statements that you might be able to link in your mind; you have to explain the link.
  • Think about the graphics at an early stage – figures can often feel like a bit of an afterthought but good figures can really help to get the message across far more concisely than text.
  • Break the article up into sections so that people can easily find the particular piece of information they might be looking for; recognize that not everyone is going to read from start to finish.
  • Remember that your readers will know far less about the topic than you do. So before you dive into the new and exciting findings in the field, make sure you’ve given a clear overview of the system you’re writing about. Imagine that you’re writing for a new PhD student who’s never worked in this particular field.

One final point: there’s no ‘winning formula’. This is just my advice based on the articles I’ve handled and the authors I’ve dealt with, so you may find that some of it doesn’t work for you or that someone else’s advice differs. Ultimately, you should aim to develop a writing approach, technique and style that works for you.

Happy writing!

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5 thoughts on “An Introduction to Writing Review Articles”

I want to say that was really simple and pragmatic. Thank you very much!

how to start a review essay

Thank you very much. I got good hint from this written piece. please don’t back to comment and help others on the topic of what you know.

its a pleasure interaction with you and the kind written piece advice on how to approach introduction review has been productive. looking forward to have you again. than you

This blog is informative for my research, but what are the resources I should use for writing my review paper to make it more specific or provide additional information so it can easily get published?

Thank You for sharing this information regarding introduction to write review article. if you want to know more information related to review article and other research related things you can visit our website

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