Why, When, Who, What, How, and Where for Trainees Writing Literature Review Articles


Literature review articles provide a valuable mechanism for remaining informed amidst an ever-increasing body of scientific work. Condensing current advances into this disseminatable form is a critical activity for any research trainee. To systematize this multifaceted process, we present the “why, when, who, what, how, and where” of composing a literature review article. Commentaries include selection of a review topic, conducting modern literature searches using online databases, stepwise strategies for manuscript drafting, and prevention of plagiarism. The current work provides structures and guidance for this fundamental effort which can establish the basis for a trainee’s development of original research objectives.

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We acknowledge support by the National Institutes of Health (P41 EB023833) towards the establishment of the Center for Engineering Complex Tissues and its educational programs. G.L.K. is supported by the Robert and Janice McNair Foundation MD/PhD Student Scholar Program. The authors gratefully acknowledge Mani Diba for advising “how” to engage in systematic literature searches and stepwise drafting processes, and we thank Alexander M. Tatara for the “draft skeleton” concept.

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The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Antonios G. Mikos.

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Koons, G.L., Schenke-Layland, K. & Mikos, A.G. Why, When, Who, What, How, and Where for Trainees Writing Literature Review Articles. Ann Biomed Eng 47, 2334–2340 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10439-019-02290-5

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  • Review articles
  • Literature review
  • Academic writing
  • Research training
  • Graduate education
  • Scientific integrity