Of Disciplines Author: Ricki Lewis

Sometimes in science, the best way to move forward is to take a long look backward. For discoveries and data to be put into context and used as springboards for future inquiry, investigators must periodically synthesize and reflect on what has been accomplished, and determine what remains to be learned. A review article is one way to chart the evolution of a scientific discipline.

Science has a rich review literature. Of 3,383 journals surveyed in the 1994 Science Citation Index, published by the Philadelphia-based Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), 16,877 of 677,601 authored articles were reviews, accounting for about 2.5 percent of the total. Review articles introduce scientists-in-training to their fields, guide researchers in identifying the work ahead, and give veteran scientists the satisfaction of seeing how their own contributions fit into the big picture. All leading indexing and abstracting services, such as Philadelphia-based Biosis,...

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