|LETTER TO EDITOR
|Year : 2017 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 66-67
A wake-up call to value, promote, and stop the extinction of review articles
Vagish Kumar L Shanbhag
Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology, Yenepoya Research Centre, Yenepoya Dental College and Hospital, Yenepoya University, Mangalore, Karnataka, India
|Date of Web Publication||17-Jan-2017|
Vagish Kumar L Shanbhag
Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology, Yenepoya Research Centre, Yenepoya Dental College and Hospital, Yenepoya University, Mangalore - 575 018, Karnataka
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Shanbhag VL. A wake-up call to value, promote, and stop the extinction of review articles. J Med Soc 2017;31:66-7
The Academic Committee of Medical Council of India recently clarified in its circular on what constitutes the publications/"accepted for publication" articles for the promotion of teaching faculty in medical colleges/institutions in India.  It was astonishing to see review articles being totally excluded from the type of articles' list to be considered for the promotion of teaching faculty. Although review articles are not original one, they help to identify primary sources and help in conceiving an idea for carrying out primary research. 
A good-quality review article helps researchers assimilate the vast amount of information pertaining to the subject of research interest in considerably short time.  Quality review articles published regularly help update the researchers on the concerned subject efficiently. In addition, journals which publish more review articles are read more frequently and usually have high-impact factors.  This proves that review articles are popular to quench the thirst of knowledge of researchers.
In general, review articles may be one of mini review or full review depending on the length of the manuscript. A full review covers, explains, and discusses in detail about the concerned topic. A mini review might not cover in detail about all aspects about the topic, but may be of value to update busy clinicians and researchers on the concerned subject. A systematic review addresses a specific research question and it is conducted according to a prescribed protocol to exclude bias. It is performed by a systematic search of literature and then synthesizing, comparing, and discussing available research evidence methodologically.  A narrative review is a descriptive one and may not include review of all the available literature. Narrative reviews are informative, however there may be an element of author bias as the literature search and coverage of the topic are not done systematically.  Systematic reviews are positioned higher up in the hierarchy of research evidence.  Systematic review answers research gaps and gives ideas to researchers to conduct original research.
A good review article whether it is a systematic review or narrative review helps to answer specific clinical questions, compare research studies, and make aware of what already has been done in research in the concerned field and what needs or can be done in future.  Review articles form an inspiration and foundation for primary research.  They help to hone the skills of writing, analyzing, and synthesizing research in their concerned specialty. 
In general, nowadays, promotion is the main motivational force for teaching faculty to write academic articles. Hence, teaching faculties are likely to devote much time and interest on original articles rather than review articles or other types of articles. Although original research articles immensely contribute to the development of scientific research, restricting the type of articles to original research articles for promotion basically restricts the literary, analyzing, synthesizing, debating, creativity, and thinking skills of teachers in a long run. In addition, neglecting the value of review articles leads to the availability of less review articles in the literature, resulting in information, time, and financial losses.
Published review articles should also be acknowledged as an achievement and should be considered when awarding for promotions. Review articles should not be depicted inferior when compared to original research articles. Grants should be provided to support candidates who intend to publish critical high-quality reviews addressing a novel scientific question; for example, a review assessing the current knowledge of the role of cancer stems cells in head and neck cancer from oral medicine point of view can be helpful to uninitiated scholars of the concerned field embarking to research into this concerned fascinating subject.
Barriers to access relevant articles while conducting a quality extensive review on the topics of current burning issues because of financial restriction, especially in developing countries, is best overcome by taking measures to promote grants for writing review articles. Furthermore, grants can be used to submit review articles to journals which charge publication charges/article processing charges (APCs); for example, PLOS ONE charges $1495 USD per article as APCs.  Journals like "the BMJ" confer awards every year for best research papers.  Journals should consider giving awards every year for best review articles. Every university should promote its researchers to conduct at least one quality review article per year by providing incentives. Regular workshops and short courses on how to perform literary search and write quality review articles should be conducted regularly by universities.
Review articles should be seen on par with original research articles. Neglecting review articles while exclusively focusing on original research articles will tend to undermine the current and past knowledge of science. This will have a negative effect on the principle of foundation of carrying out original research. Review articles should be promoted by providing grants, valued, and should be acknowledged as an achievement in academic field. In summary, there should be a balance in valuing and promoting both original research and review articles.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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