research article reviews

research article reviews

The Impact of Research Article Reviews on Academic Scholarship

1. Introduction to Research Article Reviews

Their detailed comments, constructive criticisms, and suggestions for further work can ensure that the effort put into the research and submitted for publication is improved and given the necessary final scientific quality. This translates into an overall improved journal quality and a more rewarding experience for contributors and subscribers. Scientific advancements rely on interdisciplinary research, methodology developments, and cross-fertilization of ideas leading to paradigm shifts, seismic changes, or at least gradual alterations of pre-existing conditions. Raising such issues can be an arduous task and requires consideration, understanding, and careful analysis of potentially controversial issues.

Reviewing a manuscript to separate real from trivial flaws and issues is a complex and difficult task. Research article review requires the eye of an eagle and the heart of a lion. Problematic issues and the impact of editorial decisions on editors, authors, and readers are important ingredients of a successful research article review. How editors handle the selection of manuscripts and guide these manuscripts through the peer review process, and how the reviewers carefully assess the scientific value of submitted manuscripts and the appropriateness of the editors’ decisions, largely affect the growth of the journal.

2. Benefits of Engaging in Research Article Reviews

Improved subject matter knowledge is a second major benefit of review writing. Typically, the majority of research article reviews are completed by those graduate students already teaching undergraduate courses at the same university or another unit in the same multi-unit campus system who perform no research-related duties at all. In the absence of structured research requirements (or pressures, student-led seminary discussions, convocations, cohort requirements, fees and enrollment caps notwithstanding), a research culture dominates, and scholarship is prioritized and unquestioned. Under these conditions, formal responsibility for knowing and critically assessing the state of the literature in their respective areas may not occur to many novice students, as there is no real demand for it otherwise.

Enhanced research skills are an obvious outcome of engaging in research article reviews. After all, many of the components of the research process – discovering and selecting relevant literature, critically assessing its content, articulating what is still unknown and needed because of previous weaknesses, and so forth – make up some portion of the work involved in conducting actual research. By definition, the review process demands familiarity with prior work and the ability to compare a particular paper with knowledge gained from the broader literature. As a result, graduate students learn much about writing and critiquing their own articles simply by completing reviews, regardless of the additional application of specific training in scholarly writing skills or the quality of guidance provided by mentors.

3. Challenges and Limitations of Research Article Reviews

Another challenge is the difficulty in effectively evaluating the research article reviews of students. The nature of heuristic prior learning about the subject and the variation of assignments among students make the classroom execution of the evaluation of assigned journal review comments difficult. Peer review is a standard element of the research process and the collaborative and iterative nature of science is fundamental to research as an academic enterprise. However, in-class review sessions that rely primarily on peer review do not adequately prepare students for the rigor of the scientific review process. Finally, additional problems associated with assigning writing and reading research article reviews include the perception that there is little value in the assignment, a limited understanding of the purpose of reading and evaluating academic scholarship, and an incomplete mastery of scholarly writing.

Although conducting and writing research article reviews provide students with important knowledge about how research is conducted and how scholarly articles are written, multiple challenges and limitations with performing research article reviews within a variety of different academic scholarship courses are apparent. Research article reviews are time-consuming to conduct and are often difficult to execute. In addition, reading and understanding scholarly writing is often an acquired skill that students have not yet mastered, and they may not fully understand the value of their written research article reviews throughout the journal review process.

4. Best Practices for Writing Effective Research Article Reviews

The essence of an article, as such essence is called, should cover, in a sketch or notes in the margins: the major hypotheses (including comparisons and overarching theory), the sampling strategy (for the number of participants and their characteristics), the research design (including independent and dependent variables), and key perceived results. As you move from basic annotation to brevity and completeness in your summarization, ensure that you link important points of each component together such that the relationship between each part of the research is maintained. Use words that suggest relations between concepts, such as “because,” “consequently,” “thus,” and “therefore,” and develop a more or less consistent and coherent text as you proceed. Finally, refine the coherent text, your complete summary, to exhibit strong scholarship in its own right.

When writing a review of a research article, there are as many strategies as there are approaches to reading the research itself. It is tempting to just read the research and later write the summary as best as your memory can serve you, but it is crucial to take detailed notes on the research as you read. These notes can serve as the breakthroughs for sleeping over the research and spending the subconscious to find ways to summarize and critically evaluate research. Annotate the text that you have reviewed as best as you can, perhaps in the margins, or insert comments into the body of the text itself if it is available in a supported file format, such as a PDF.

5. Conclusion and Future Directions

In summary, the consensus appears to suggest that RARs seem to have been judged quite effective by the participants. They are likely to continue to represent an important component for the “Research Articles” section of the ISLPED proceedings in the future. It is hoped that this model of handling RARs will provide insights for further refinements and also suggest useful benchmarks or models for handling the so-called research article review in settings other than ISLPED.

Research Article Reviews (RARs) have been an essential component for the “Research Articles” section of the proceedings at the 1998 and 1999 International Symposium on Low Power Electronics and Design (ISLPED). This paper explores the collective opinions of 23 distinguished academicians from various computer science and electrical engineering departments in the United States and Canada on the effectiveness of the RARs. In general, the feedback reveals some interesting perspectives. The RARs are considered as a very good method for rendering participating faculty familiar with the recent research in very large scale integration (VLSI) and computer engineering, and also help graduate students improve their writing and evaluation skills. The feedback also suggests that alternative ways of handling RARs appear to be largely acceptable, as long as they do not significantly compromise the objectives such as fostering and rewarding academic scholarship, and providing a venue for participants to vet and sharpen their ideas and material prior to submitting them as full papers to popular conferences and high-quality journals.

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