Writing your review

Here is very general advice, put together with the help of our academics, for writing your review. We recommend you contact your Subject Editors or your own lecturers for more information on good scientific writing within your chosen subject.

Click here for more general FAQs.

Overall layout

  • Word count – 2,500 words, not including references, table names or figure names.
  • Format – MS word document or LaTeX (don’t worry about line spacing, font etc. All formatting will be done when going to print)
  • Chemistry students please use ChemDraw for any chemical structures you may want to include in your review. It can be downloaded for free from here, choose the correct option from the drop down menu and sign up with your TCD email address.
  • Do not include details about yourself in the text of your review- instead please fill out this cover sheet.

The language

  • Repeat key terms exactly, don’t try to find different ways of saying the same thing.
  • Be specific (dog NOT animal) but simple (girl NOT female child).
  • Be consistent with spelling (off-spring OR offspring).
  • Be concise: avoid adverbs and shorten wordy sentences wherever possible
  • Try to find a balance between over-explaining concepts and not providing enough background information.

The science

  • Any points made in the text must be supported by evidence, identified by citation.
  • Do not make sweeping statements or unsubstantiated claims.
  • Be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of your sources – did you read papers that contradicted something you’re presenting in your review? Don’t cherry-pick supporting articles.


  • Vancouver referencing.
  • Reference list – full references for the citations are given here. All references cited in the text must be given fully. References not cited in the text should not be in this list.
  • Again we stress that the TSSR is not a primary publication and can not accept articles that rely on unpublished data.
  • Citations and references are not included in the word count

Your review should follow this format:


The title must be a concise description, no more than 20 words long.


A paragraph that outlines the review in 200-300 words. The abstract is a concise summary of the paper, giving a brief overview of the subject matter under discussion. Any conclusions drawn are mentioned, but references are not included in this section.


The specific purpose of the review paper and what it addresses is explicitly stated here. All background knowledge required for an understanding of the review should be presented here, including previous research and current developments, however basic scientific knowledge is assumed. Any abbreviations or acronyms should also be explained here, as well as all relevant concepts and key terms.

Main body

Varies from paper to paper. We recommend you read papers published in established review journals.

Discussion and Conclusions

Your review should be a critical analysis, and not just a summary of information. Did you present, discuss and answer the questions and arguments you set out to? What are the implications of your review, and how could the field be advanced through these conclusions?


If your review has been adapted from work you have submitted to the college already this should be included here in the following format:  ‘This work was adapted from an essay “My essay title” for course ZO3066.’ This to ensure that any discrepancies in the plagiarism checker can be dealt with easily.

Here are some useful links about writing review papers, and here are additional links to established review journals and potential sources of inspiration.

Contact us if you have any other questions, or want further clarification.