Preparing a Literature Review
Literature reviews are articles that provide a clear, up-to-date account of the topic and are aimed at non-specialists from all over the world.
A literature review should include a broad update of current research developments related to the topic under review (from the past 3 to 4 years) and their likely clinical applications.
It may be helpful to consult previous editions of the TSMJ or other publications to familiarise yourself with the structure/content of a review article.
They should be in the region of 2000-2500 words in length excluding text in boxes, figure legends and references. There should be no more than 30 references (where possible).
Below is a basic outline of the structure of a literature review:
The title should be clear, concise, and informative – the reader should have an idea of what the review is about. No abbreviations are used in the title. You may wish to create a “catchy” title to capture the attention of the reader – the decision to read an article often rests on the appeal of its title. However, it should contain key words related to the content of the review.
Designation, degree, affiliation and address of all authors are to be clearly indicated, with additional details such as telephone number and/or email address of the corresponding author.
- Cover each and every component of the review in no more than 200 words.
- State the purpose of the review, an overview of the subsequent sections, the principal conclusion and implications.
- Should contain precise information and no abbreviations.
- Should be 100-200 words
- Explain what the review is about, why it is important to non-specialists and what will be covered in the subsequent sections.
- Answer the question “Why should I read this review?” as posed by a non-specialist in the area.
- Include literature to introduce and support your points.
The Body of the Review
- The body of the text should be broken up under “reader-friendly” sub-headings.
- Subheadings may be in the form of questions. (Example: “Who gets it?” “How is it diagnosed?” “What new treatments can we expect?”)
- Specialist terminology should be explained, and all abbreviations and acronyms written in full.
- Clarify the evidence on which the key statements in the review are based, and the strength of the evidence (published trials, systematic reviews, observational studies, expert opinion) throughout the paper.
- Where evidence is lacking or is of poor quality we expect you to say so.
- Remember that any advice on managing patients may not apply worldwide – clarify if your advice is country-specific.
Note: We expect to find sentences structured in the following ways:
“A large, well-conducted randomised trial found that…”
“The findings of a small case series suggest…”, and so on.
- This section should be short and briefly summarise the review.
- Come to conclusions about the topic of interest.
- Look to the future in the area of interest.
- Do NOT introduce any new information here.
- Can be clinical photographs, line drawings, and flow charts.
- Remember that we need informed consent from patients for any material you obtain from patients (including X-rays, histology slides, and so on).
- Titles and subheadings should be in bold and in 24pt and 16pt font size respectively. The remainder of the text including author names, references and figure legends should be in size 12 font. Any standard font is acceptable e.g. Times New Roman.
- A single clear paragraph space should be left between each title and its text, between each paragraph and between the end of a paragraph and a new heading.
Figures and Tables
- We highly encourage the inclusion of figures, photos, illustrations and tables. Please make sure you are not in breach of copyright. We encourage authors to make their own figures (where possible to respect copyright laws) using PowerPoint and freely available biomedical image banks like Servier Medical Art.
- Please ensure they are fully labelled with accompanying legends at the end of the manuscript after the references section.
Articles referenced in the text should be cited by name and year e.g. (Quinn and Hamilton, 2014) when there are two or less authors or (Quinn et al, 2014) if there are more than two authors.
In the references section we ask that references are listed in alphabetical order as bullet points. Our referencing style is in the APA format an example of which is as follows:
Hiraiwa, K., Elliott, M., Hogg, J. C., & Van Eeden, S. F. (2015). Effect Of Statins On The Retention Of Ambient Particulate Matters (pm) In COPD. Am J Respir Crit Care Med, 191, A5804.
References in this style can be found by clicking on the ‘cite’ button under the article you wish to reference on the search results page on Google Scholar.
This section is to acknowledge the work of anyone who contributed with the research but who is not listed as an author. This section comes after the conclusion.
Conflict of Interest Statement
We request that all authors declare whether there are any personal or financial or other factors that may have influenced their work. If there are no such factors, then please declare no conflicting interests after the acknowledgements section and before the references.
Publishing Agreement and Patient Confidentiality
A publishing agreement must be signed and completed by all authors as well as a declaration that informed consent was gained for any patient cases and for all materials that may allow for patient identification. The document can be downloaded by following this link: http://tsmj.ie/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Publishing-agreement.docx