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Occupational Therapy

Research article or Review article: what's the difference?

Research articles present original research results, and include details of the scientific data obtained during the research, as well as the methodology used. They are known as a primary source of scientific information, and should include:

  • An abstract, which succinctly summarizes the article content
  • An introduction which explains the reason/purpose/justification for the research
  • A clear outline of the methodology/ies used to conduct and analyze the research
  • Data to support analysis of results
  • Discussion of results
  • References

Review articles do exactly what their name suggests: they review the literature published on a particular topic. Typically, review articles:

  • Provide an overview of the research conducted ‘to date’ on a particular topic
  • 'Track' the course of research, identifying significant contributions to the field, and themes in the literature
  • Discuss/analyze/compare/contrast the research of different authors working in the same field

A review article is considered a secondary source of information, and can provide an ideal starting point for researching a topic. The reference list will contain citations for the research articles (primary sources) discussed – a good way of locating other literature that may be relevant to your topic. Be aware that a review article reflects the views of its authors - you should still look at the articles discussed and draw your own conclusions.