How to Write a Survey Paper

By Karen Palmer on August 2022
Category: Essay Writing

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Survey papers might be hard to summarize and conduct research though they are very common among other types of writing assignments. The following blog post will help you structure and write a great paper as well as avoid common mistakes. Let’s get started.

What Is a Survey Paper?

As opposed to a systematic review, the purpose of a survey paper is to offer a structured perspective on the state of the field at the present time. A good survey paper offers a condensed but comprehensive examination of a topic, making it understandable for a wide variety of readers who are uninitiated in the field but are interested in conducting research in the area covered by the essay. The survey study draws some conclusions from the work that has been done up to this point and suggests new directions for the work that will be done in the future. 

Writing a good survey paper is difficult, and there aren’t really any good shortcuts: you do need to become familiar with the content of a very large number of works – research papers, study results, experiment reports, etc. – in order to make sure that the view you are presenting is a reliable and unbiased point of view. In order to write a good survey paper, you need to become familiar with the content of a very large number of papers, though you don’t need to cite them all – only the ones that are especially crucial and fundamental for the field and reader.

Steps of Writing a Survey Paper

Similarly to other types of papers, a survey paper writing process starts with the topic and research on it. If you have a particular topic in mind or that you were assigned, you can start searching for reliable sources and material that should become the basis of your future paper.

If you still need to decide what you want to write about, you should focus on topics that are not too broad and not too narrow as it needs to have some good material to work with. Don’t forget to pick the topic that has some research potential so you can also make some prognosis on what the future of the field might be like and what other researches can be done.

Research

During the research process after you have already set the scope (which means that you know the topic at least in general terms), it’s important to define the criteria as it will help you narrow down the list of sources and pick the most relevant ones. Such criteria might be:

  • The time period of publication – it’s important to exclude sources that are not relevant anymore due to the fact that it’s been too long since they were published and the data is not actual.
  • The specific research questions which should be covered by the information found in the sources.
  • The reliability of the resource.
  • The significance of the information found – specifically for the topic and for the field in general.

Make sure you set your criteria before you start doing your research, otherwise you might find yourself doing the work twice in an attempt to organize your findings.

Classifying and Synthesizing

The next step that you need to take is to process the sources – organize, classify, analyze, and synthesize them. You can’t simply list the papers and reports that you have found – it would do nothing for a reader. You need to give something more – for example, the comparison or common concept characteristics, some progressive ideas, etc. The more work you do with the sources – the more valuable information you can provide in your paper.

Writing Your Paper and the Basic Structure

Commonly a survey paper consists of the common elements such as:

  • Title. You need the title to be concise yet clear for the reader. The most common options of titles for survey papers are: “The analysis of…” or “Modern trends in…” or “Common traits of…”
  • Abstract – the part of your paper that should contain a quick overview of the paper and the most important components like the description of the problem, methods used, and a quick summary of results.
  • Introduction. This part like any other introduction should provide some background information on the topic and provide basic knowledge of the thesis statement, sources used, common ideas among the researchers, etc.
  • Literature review. Here is where you present the main ideas of your paper as well as the key elements of each and every source you used in order to define and evaluate the problem and its study.
  • Conclusion. Make sure you structure your conclusion in the way it answers the questions set at the beginning of your paper as well as summaries the concepts and findings for better understanding. It should not repeat your introduction word for word in terms of results.

The key part of the survey paper writing process is to pick the most appropriate and actual research sources in order to provide an unbiased and progressive point of view on the problem. If you are not sure about your topic and source choice or don’t know how to form it into a good paper, you can turn to our team for help – we will be glad to write a survey paper for you.

 

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