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How to Write an Article Review

Last Updated: September 8, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Jake Adams . Jake Adams is an academic tutor and the owner of Simplifi EDU, a Santa Monica, California based online tutoring business offering learning resources and online tutors for academic subjects K-College, SAT & ACT prep, and college admissions applications. With over 14 years of professional tutoring experience, Jake is dedicated to providing his clients the very best online tutoring experience and access to a network of excellent undergraduate and graduate-level tutors from top colleges all over the nation. Jake holds a BS in International Business and Marketing from Pepperdine University. There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 3,017,659 times.

An article review is both a summary and an evaluation of another writer's article. Teachers often assign article reviews to introduce students to the work of experts in the field. Experts also are often asked to review the work of other professionals. Understanding the main points and arguments of the article is essential for an accurate summation. Logical evaluation of the article's main theme, supporting arguments, and implications for further research is an important element of a review . Here are a few guidelines for writing an article review.

Education specialist Alexander Peterman recommends: "In the case of a review, your objective should be to reflect on the effectiveness of what has already been written, rather than writing to inform your audience about a subject."

Things You Should Know

  • Read the article very closely, and then take time to reflect on your evaluation. Consider whether the article effectively achieves what it set out to.
  • Write out a full article review by completing your intro, summary, evaluation, and conclusion. Don't forget to add a title, too!
  • Proofread your review for mistakes (like grammar and usage), while also cutting down on needless information. [1] X Research source

Preparing to Write Your Review

Step 1 Understand what an article review is.

  • Article reviews present more than just an opinion. You will engage with the text to create a response to the scholarly writer's ideas. You will respond to and use ideas, theories, and research from your studies. Your critique of the article will be based on proof and your own thoughtful reasoning.
  • An article review only responds to the author's research. It typically does not provide any new research. However, if you are correcting misleading or otherwise incorrect points, some new data may be presented.
  • An article review both summarizes and evaluates the article.

Step 2 Think about the organization of the review article.

  • Summarize the article. Focus on the important points, claims, and information.
  • Discuss the positive aspects of the article. Think about what the author does well, good points she makes, and insightful observations.
  • Identify contradictions, gaps, and inconsistencies in the text. Determine if there is enough data or research included to support the author's claims. Find any unanswered questions left in the article.

Step 3 Preview the article.

  • Make note of words or issues you don't understand and questions you have.
  • Look up terms or concepts you are unfamiliar with, so you can fully understand the article. Read about concepts in-depth to make sure you understand their full context.

Step 4 Read the article closely.

  • Pay careful attention to the meaning of the article. Make sure you fully understand the article. The only way to write a good article review is to understand the article.

Step 5 Put the article into your words.

  • With either method, make an outline of the main points made in the article and the supporting research or arguments. It is strictly a restatement of the main points of the article and does not include your opinions.
  • After putting the article in your own words, decide which parts of the article you want to discuss in your review. You can focus on the theoretical approach, the content, the presentation or interpretation of evidence, or the style. You will always discuss the main issues of the article, but you can sometimes also focus on certain aspects. This comes in handy if you want to focus the review towards the content of a course.
  • Review the summary outline to eliminate unnecessary items. Erase or cross out the less important arguments or supplemental information. Your revised summary can serve as the basis for the summary you provide at the beginning of your review.

Step 6 Write an outline of your evaluation.

  • What does the article set out to do?
  • What is the theoretical framework or assumptions?
  • Are the central concepts clearly defined?
  • How adequate is the evidence?
  • How does the article fit into the literature and field?
  • Does it advance the knowledge of the subject?
  • How clear is the author's writing? Don't: include superficial opinions or your personal reaction. Do: pay attention to your biases, so you can overcome them.

Writing the Article Review

Step 1 Come up with...

  • For example, in MLA , a citation may look like: Duvall, John N. "The (Super)Marketplace of Images: Television as Unmediated Mediation in DeLillo's White Noise ." Arizona Quarterly 50.3 (1994): 127-53. Print. [10] X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source

Step 3 Identify the article.

  • For example: The article, "Condom use will increase the spread of AIDS," was written by Anthony Zimmerman, a Catholic priest.

Step 4 Write the introduction....

  • Your introduction should only be 10-25% of your review.
  • End the introduction with your thesis. Your thesis should address the above issues. For example: Although the author has some good points, his article is biased and contains some misinterpretation of data from others’ analysis of the effectiveness of the condom.

Step 5 Summarize the article.

  • Use direct quotes from the author sparingly.
  • Review the summary you have written. Read over your summary many times to ensure that your words are an accurate description of the author's article.

Step 6 Write your critique.

  • Support your critique with evidence from the article or other texts.
  • The summary portion is very important for your critique. You must make the author's argument clear in the summary section for your evaluation to make sense.
  • Remember, this is not where you say if you liked the article or not. You are assessing the significance and relevance of the article.
  • Use a topic sentence and supportive arguments for each opinion. For example, you might address a particular strength in the first sentence of the opinion section, followed by several sentences elaborating on the significance of the point.

Step 7 Conclude the article review.

  • This should only be about 10% of your overall essay.
  • For example: This critical review has evaluated the article "Condom use will increase the spread of AIDS" by Anthony Zimmerman. The arguments in the article show the presence of bias, prejudice, argumentative writing without supporting details, and misinformation. These points weaken the author’s arguments and reduce his credibility.

Step 8 Proofread.

  • Make sure you have identified and discussed the 3-4 key issues in the article.

Sample Article Reviews

research article review paper

Expert Q&A

Jake Adams

You Might Also Like

Write Articles

  • ↑ https://writing.wisc.edu/handbook/grammarpunct/proofreading/
  • ↑ https://libguides.cmich.edu/writinghelp/articlereview
  • ↑ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4548566/
  • ↑ Jake Adams. Academic Tutor & Test Prep Specialist. Expert Interview. 24 July 2020.
  • ↑ https://guides.library.queensu.ca/introduction-research/writing/critical
  • ↑ https://www.iup.edu/writingcenter/writing-resources/organization-and-structure/creating-an-outline.html
  • ↑ https://writing.umn.edu/sws/assets/pdf/quicktips/titles.pdf
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_works_cited_periodicals.html
  • ↑ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4548565/
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.uconn.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/593/2014/06/How_to_Summarize_a_Research_Article1.pdf
  • ↑ https://www.uis.edu/learning-hub/writing-resources/handouts/learning-hub/how-to-review-a-journal-article
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/editing-and-proofreading/

About This Article

Jake Adams

If you have to write an article review, read through the original article closely, taking notes and highlighting important sections as you read. Next, rewrite the article in your own words, either in a long paragraph or as an outline. Open your article review by citing the article, then write an introduction which states the article’s thesis. Next, summarize the article, followed by your opinion about whether the article was clear, thorough, and useful. Finish with a paragraph that summarizes the main points of the article and your opinions. To learn more about what to include in your personal critique of the article, keep reading the article! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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What is a review article?

Learn how to write a review article.

What is a review article? A review article can also be called a literature review, or a review of literature. It is a survey of previously published research on a topic. It should give an overview of current thinking on the topic. And, unlike an original research article, it will not present new experimental results.

Writing a review of literature is to provide a critical evaluation of the data available from existing studies. Review articles can identify potential research areas to explore next, and sometimes they will draw new conclusions from the existing data.

Why write a review article?

To provide a comprehensive foundation on a topic.

To explain the current state of knowledge.

To identify gaps in existing studies for potential future research.

To highlight the main methodologies and research techniques.

Did you know? 

There are some journals that only publish review articles, and others that do not accept them.

Make sure you check the  aims and scope  of the journal you’d like to publish in to find out if it’s the right place for your review article.

How to write a review article

Below are 8 key items to consider when you begin writing your review article.

Check the journal’s aims and scope

Make sure you have read the aims and scope for the journal you are submitting to and follow them closely. Different journals accept different types of articles and not all will accept review articles, so it’s important to check this before you start writing.

Define your scope

Define the scope of your review article and the research question you’ll be answering, making sure your article contributes something new to the field. 

As award-winning author Angus Crake told us, you’ll also need to “define the scope of your review so that it is manageable, not too large or small; it may be necessary to focus on recent advances if the field is well established.” 

Finding sources to evaluate

When finding sources to evaluate, Angus Crake says it’s critical that you “use multiple search engines/databases so you don’t miss any important ones.” 

For finding studies for a systematic review in medical sciences,  read advice from NCBI . 

Writing your title, abstract and keywords

Spend time writing an effective title, abstract and keywords. This will help maximize the visibility of your article online, making sure the right readers find your research. Your title and abstract should be clear, concise, accurate, and informative. 

For more information and guidance on getting these right, read our guide to writing a good abstract and title  and our  researcher’s guide to search engine optimization . 

Introduce the topic

Does a literature review need an introduction? Yes, always start with an overview of the topic and give some context, explaining why a review of the topic is necessary. Gather research to inform your introduction and make it broad enough to reach out to a large audience of non-specialists. This will help maximize its wider relevance and impact. 

Don’t make your introduction too long. Divide the review into sections of a suitable length to allow key points to be identified more easily.

Include critical discussion

Make sure you present a critical discussion, not just a descriptive summary of the topic. If there is contradictory research in your area of focus, make sure to include an element of debate and present both sides of the argument. You can also use your review paper to resolve conflict between contradictory studies.

What researchers say

Angus Crake, researcher

As part of your conclusion, include making suggestions for future research on the topic. Focus on the goal to communicate what you understood and what unknowns still remains.

Use a critical friend

Always perform a final spell and grammar check of your article before submission. 

You may want to ask a critical friend or colleague to give their feedback before you submit. If English is not your first language, think about using a language-polishing service.

Find out more about how  Taylor & Francis Editing Services can help improve your manuscript before you submit.

What is the difference between a research article and a review article?

Before you submit your review article….

Complete this checklist before you submit your review article:

Have you checked the journal’s aims and scope?

Have you defined the scope of your article?

Did you use multiple search engines to find sources to evaluate?

Have you written a descriptive title and abstract using keywords?

Did you start with an overview of the topic?

Have you presented a critical discussion?

Have you included future suggestions for research in your conclusion?

Have you asked a friend to do a final spell and grammar check?

research article review paper

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How to Write an Article Review: Tips and Examples

research article review paper

Did you know that article reviews are not just academic exercises but also a valuable skill in today's information age? In a world inundated with content, being able to dissect and evaluate articles critically can help you separate the wheat from the chaff. Whether you're a student aiming to excel in your coursework or a professional looking to stay well-informed, mastering the art of writing article reviews is an invaluable skill.

Short Description

In this article, our research paper writing service experts will start by unraveling the concept of article reviews and discussing the various types. You'll also gain insights into the art of formatting your review effectively. To ensure you're well-prepared, we'll take you through the pre-writing process, offering tips on setting the stage for your review. But it doesn't stop there. You'll find a practical example of an article review to help you grasp the concepts in action. To complete your journey, we'll guide you through the post-writing process, equipping you with essential proofreading techniques to ensure your work shines with clarity and precision!

What Is an Article Review: Grasping the Concept 

A review article is a type of professional paper writing that demands a high level of in-depth analysis and a well-structured presentation of arguments. It is a critical, constructive evaluation of literature in a particular field through summary, classification, analysis, and comparison.

If you write a scientific review, you have to use database searches to portray the research. Your primary goal is to summarize everything and present a clear understanding of the topic you've been working on.

Writing Involves:

  • Summarization, classification, analysis, critiques, and comparison.
  • The analysis, evaluation, and comparison require the use of theories, ideas, and research relevant to the subject area of the article.
  • It is also worth nothing if a review does not introduce new information, but instead presents a response to another writer's work.
  • Check out other samples to gain a better understanding of how to review the article.

Types of Review

When it comes to article reviews, there's more than one way to approach the task. Understanding the various types of reviews is like having a versatile toolkit at your disposal. In this section, we'll walk you through the different dimensions of review types, each offering a unique perspective and purpose. Whether you're dissecting a scholarly article, critiquing a piece of literature, or evaluating a product, you'll discover the diverse landscape of article reviews and how to navigate it effectively.

types of article review

Journal Article Review

Just like other types of reviews, a journal article review assesses the merits and shortcomings of a published work. To illustrate, consider a review of an academic paper on climate change, where the writer meticulously analyzes and interprets the article's significance within the context of environmental science.

Research Article Review

Distinguished by its focus on research methodologies, a research article review scrutinizes the techniques used in a study and evaluates them in light of the subsequent analysis and critique. For instance, when reviewing a research article on the effects of a new drug, the reviewer would delve into the methods employed to gather data and assess their reliability.

Science Article Review

In the realm of scientific literature, a science article review encompasses a wide array of subjects. Scientific publications often provide extensive background information, which can be instrumental in conducting a comprehensive analysis. For example, when reviewing an article about the latest breakthroughs in genetics, the reviewer may draw upon the background knowledge provided to facilitate a more in-depth evaluation of the publication.

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Formatting an Article Review

The format of the article should always adhere to the citation style required by your professor. If you're not sure, seek clarification on the preferred format and ask him to clarify several other pointers to complete the formatting of an article review adequately.

How Many Publications Should You Review?

  • In what format should you cite your articles (MLA, APA, ASA, Chicago, etc.)?
  • What length should your review be?
  • Should you include a summary, critique, or personal opinion in your assignment?
  • Do you need to call attention to a theme or central idea within the articles?
  • Does your instructor require background information?

When you know the answers to these questions, you may start writing your assignment. Below are examples of MLA and APA formats, as those are the two most common citation styles.

Using the APA Format

Articles appear most commonly in academic journals, newspapers, and websites. If you write an article review in the APA format, you will need to write bibliographical entries for the sources you use:

  • Web : Author [last name], A.A [first and middle initial]. (Year, Month, Date of Publication). Title. Retrieved from {link}
  • Journal : Author [last name], A.A [first and middle initial]. (Publication Year). Publication Title. Periodical Title, Volume(Issue), pp.-pp.
  • Newspaper : Author [last name], A.A [first and middle initial]. (Year, Month, Date of Publication). Publication Title. Magazine Title, pp. xx-xx.

Using MLA Format

  • Web : Last, First Middle Initial. “Publication Title.” Website Title. Website Publisher, Date Month Year Published. Web. Date Month Year Accessed.
  • Newspaper : Last, First M. “Publication Title.” Newspaper Title [City] Date, Month, Year Published: Page(s). Print.
  • Journal : Last, First M. “Publication Title.” Journal Title Series Volume. Issue (Year Published): Page(s). Database Name. Web. Date Month Year Accessed.

The Pre-Writing Process

Facing this task for the first time can really get confusing and can leave you unsure of where to begin. To create a top-notch article review, start with a few preparatory steps. Here are the two main stages from our dissertation services to get you started:

Step 1: Define the right organization for your review. Knowing the future setup of your paper will help you define how you should read the article. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Summarize the article — seek out the main points, ideas, claims, and general information presented in the article.
  • Define the positive points — identify the strong aspects, ideas, and insightful observations the author has made.
  • Find the gaps —- determine whether or not the author has any contradictions, gaps, or inconsistencies in the article and evaluate whether or not he or she used a sufficient amount of arguments and information to support his or her ideas.
  • Identify unanswered questions — finally, identify if there are any questions left unanswered after reading the piece.

Step 2: Move on and review the article. Here is a small and simple guide to help you do it right:

  • Start off by looking at and assessing the title of the piece, its abstract, introductory part, headings and subheadings, opening sentences in its paragraphs, and its conclusion.
  • First, read only the beginning and the ending of the piece (introduction and conclusion). These are the parts where authors include all of their key arguments and points. Therefore, if you start with reading these parts, it will give you a good sense of the author's main points.
  • Finally, read the article fully.

These three steps make up most of the prewriting process. After you are done with them, you can move on to writing your own review—and we are going to guide you through the writing process as well.

Outline and Template

As you progress with reading your article, organize your thoughts into coherent sections in an outline. As you read, jot down important facts, contributions, or contradictions. Identify the shortcomings and strengths of your publication. Begin to map your outline accordingly.

If your professor does not want a summary section or a personal critique section, then you must alleviate those parts from your writing. Much like other assignments, an article review must contain an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Thus, you might consider dividing your outline according to these sections as well as subheadings within the body. If you find yourself troubled with the pre-writing and the brainstorming process for this assignment, seek out a sample outline.

Your custom essay must contain these constituent parts:

  • Pre-Title Page - Before diving into your review, start with essential details: article type, publication title, and author names with affiliations (position, department, institution, location, and email). Include corresponding author info if needed.
  • Running Head - In APA format, use a concise title (under 40 characters) to ensure consistent formatting.
  • Summary Page - Optional but useful. Summarize the article in 800 words, covering background, purpose, results, and methodology, avoiding verbatim text or references.
  • Title Page - Include the full title, a 250-word abstract, and 4-6 keywords for discoverability.
  • Introduction - Set the stage with an engaging overview of the article.
  • Body - Organize your analysis with headings and subheadings.
  • Works Cited/References - Properly cite all sources used in your review.
  • Optional Suggested Reading Page - If permitted, suggest further readings for in-depth exploration.
  • Tables and Figure Legends (if instructed by the professor) - Include visuals when requested by your professor for clarity.

Example of an Article Review

You might wonder why we've dedicated a section of this article to discuss an article review sample. Not everyone may realize it, but examining multiple well-constructed examples of review articles is a crucial step in the writing process. In the following section, our essay writing service experts will explain why.

Looking through relevant article review examples can be beneficial for you in the following ways:

  • To get you introduced to the key works of experts in your field.
  • To help you identify the key people engaged in a particular field of science.
  • To help you define what significant discoveries and advances were made in your field.
  • To help you unveil the major gaps within the existing knowledge of your field—which contributes to finding fresh solutions.
  • To help you find solid references and arguments for your own review.
  • To help you generate some ideas about any further field of research.
  • To help you gain a better understanding of the area and become an expert in this specific field.
  • To get a clear idea of how to write a good review.

View Our Writer’s Sample Before Crafting Your Own!

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Steps for Writing an Article Review

Here is a guide with critique paper format from our research paper writing service on how to write a review paper:

steps for article review

Step 1: Write the Title

First of all, you need to write a title that reflects the main focus of your work. Respectively, the title can be either interrogative, descriptive, or declarative.

Step 2: Cite the Article

Next, create a proper citation for the reviewed article and input it following the title. At this step, the most important thing to keep in mind is the style of citation specified by your instructor in the requirements for the paper. For example, an article citation in the MLA style should look as follows:

Author's last and first name. "The title of the article." Journal's title and issue(publication date): page(s). Print

Abraham John. "The World of Dreams." Virginia Quarterly 60.2(1991): 125-67. Print.

Step 3: Article Identification

After your citation, you need to include the identification of your reviewed article:

  • Title of the article
  • Title of the journal
  • Year of publication

All of this information should be included in the first paragraph of your paper.

The report "Poverty increases school drop-outs" was written by Brian Faith – a Health officer – in 2000.

Step 4: Introduction

Your organization in an assignment like this is of the utmost importance. Before embarking on your writing process, you should outline your assignment or use an article review template to organize your thoughts coherently.

  • If you are wondering how to start an article review, begin with an introduction that mentions the article and your thesis for the review.
  • Follow up with a summary of the main points of the article.
  • Highlight the positive aspects and facts presented in the publication.
  • Critique the publication by identifying gaps, contradictions, disparities in the text, and unanswered questions.

Step 5: Summarize the Article

Make a summary of the article by revisiting what the author has written about. Note any relevant facts and findings from the article. Include the author's conclusions in this section.

Step 6: Critique It

Present the strengths and weaknesses you have found in the publication. Highlight the knowledge that the author has contributed to the field. Also, write about any gaps and/or contradictions you have found in the article. Take a standpoint of either supporting or not supporting the author's assertions, but back up your arguments with facts and relevant theories that are pertinent to that area of knowledge. Rubrics and templates can also be used to evaluate and grade the person who wrote the article.

Step 7: Craft a Conclusion

In this section, revisit the critical points of your piece, your findings in the article, and your critique. Also, write about the accuracy, validity, and relevance of the results of the article review. Present a way forward for future research in the field of study. Before submitting your article, keep these pointers in mind:

  • As you read the article, highlight the key points. This will help you pinpoint the article's main argument and the evidence that they used to support that argument.
  • While you write your review, use evidence from your sources to make a point. This is best done using direct quotations.
  • Select quotes and supporting evidence adequately and use direct quotations sparingly. Take time to analyze the article adequately.
  • Every time you reference a publication or use a direct quotation, use a parenthetical citation to avoid accidentally plagiarizing your article.
  • Re-read your piece a day after you finish writing it. This will help you to spot grammar mistakes and to notice any flaws in your organization.
  • Use a spell-checker and get a second opinion on your paper.

The Post-Writing Process: Proofread Your Work

Finally, when all of the parts of your article review are set and ready, you have one last thing to take care of — proofreading. Although students often neglect this step, proofreading is a vital part of the writing process and will help you polish your paper to ensure that there are no mistakes or inconsistencies.

To proofread your paper properly, start by reading it fully and checking the following points:

  • Punctuation
  • Other mistakes

Afterward, take a moment to check for any unnecessary information in your paper and, if found, consider removing it to streamline your content. Finally, double-check that you've covered at least 3-4 key points in your discussion.

And remember, if you ever need help with proofreading, rewriting your essay, or even want to buy essay , our friendly team is always here to assist you.

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Writing a Literature Review

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A literature review is a document or section of a document that collects key sources on a topic and discusses those sources in conversation with each other (also called synthesis ). The lit review is an important genre in many disciplines, not just literature (i.e., the study of works of literature such as novels and plays). When we say “literature review” or refer to “the literature,” we are talking about the research ( scholarship ) in a given field. You will often see the terms “the research,” “the scholarship,” and “the literature” used mostly interchangeably.

Where, when, and why would I write a lit review?

There are a number of different situations where you might write a literature review, each with slightly different expectations; different disciplines, too, have field-specific expectations for what a literature review is and does. For instance, in the humanities, authors might include more overt argumentation and interpretation of source material in their literature reviews, whereas in the sciences, authors are more likely to report study designs and results in their literature reviews; these differences reflect these disciplines’ purposes and conventions in scholarship. You should always look at examples from your own discipline and talk to professors or mentors in your field to be sure you understand your discipline’s conventions, for literature reviews as well as for any other genre.

A literature review can be a part of a research paper or scholarly article, usually falling after the introduction and before the research methods sections. In these cases, the lit review just needs to cover scholarship that is important to the issue you are writing about; sometimes it will also cover key sources that informed your research methodology.

Lit reviews can also be standalone pieces, either as assignments in a class or as publications. In a class, a lit review may be assigned to help students familiarize themselves with a topic and with scholarship in their field, get an idea of the other researchers working on the topic they’re interested in, find gaps in existing research in order to propose new projects, and/or develop a theoretical framework and methodology for later research. As a publication, a lit review usually is meant to help make other scholars’ lives easier by collecting and summarizing, synthesizing, and analyzing existing research on a topic. This can be especially helpful for students or scholars getting into a new research area, or for directing an entire community of scholars toward questions that have not yet been answered.

What are the parts of a lit review?

Most lit reviews use a basic introduction-body-conclusion structure; if your lit review is part of a larger paper, the introduction and conclusion pieces may be just a few sentences while you focus most of your attention on the body. If your lit review is a standalone piece, the introduction and conclusion take up more space and give you a place to discuss your goals, research methods, and conclusions separately from where you discuss the literature itself.


  • An introductory paragraph that explains what your working topic and thesis is
  • A forecast of key topics or texts that will appear in the review
  • Potentially, a description of how you found sources and how you analyzed them for inclusion and discussion in the review (more often found in published, standalone literature reviews than in lit review sections in an article or research paper)
  • Summarize and synthesize: Give an overview of the main points of each source and combine them into a coherent whole
  • Analyze and interpret: Don’t just paraphrase other researchers – add your own interpretations where possible, discussing the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole
  • Critically Evaluate: Mention the strengths and weaknesses of your sources
  • Write in well-structured paragraphs: Use transition words and topic sentence to draw connections, comparisons, and contrasts.


  • Summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance
  • Connect it back to your primary research question

How should I organize my lit review?

Lit reviews can take many different organizational patterns depending on what you are trying to accomplish with the review. Here are some examples:

  • Chronological : The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time, which helps familiarize the audience with the topic (for instance if you are introducing something that is not commonly known in your field). If you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order. Try to analyze the patterns, turning points, and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred (as mentioned previously, this may not be appropriate in your discipline — check with a teacher or mentor if you’re unsure).
  • Thematic : If you have found some recurring central themes that you will continue working with throughout your piece, you can organize your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic. For example, if you are reviewing literature about women and religion, key themes can include the role of women in churches and the religious attitude towards women.
  • Qualitative versus quantitative research
  • Empirical versus theoretical scholarship
  • Divide the research by sociological, historical, or cultural sources
  • Theoretical : In many humanities articles, the literature review is the foundation for the theoretical framework. You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts. You can argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach or combine various theorical concepts to create a framework for your research.

What are some strategies or tips I can use while writing my lit review?

Any lit review is only as good as the research it discusses; make sure your sources are well-chosen and your research is thorough. Don’t be afraid to do more research if you discover a new thread as you’re writing. More info on the research process is available in our "Conducting Research" resources .

As you’re doing your research, create an annotated bibliography ( see our page on the this type of document ). Much of the information used in an annotated bibliography can be used also in a literature review, so you’ll be not only partially drafting your lit review as you research, but also developing your sense of the larger conversation going on among scholars, professionals, and any other stakeholders in your topic.

Usually you will need to synthesize research rather than just summarizing it. This means drawing connections between sources to create a picture of the scholarly conversation on a topic over time. Many student writers struggle to synthesize because they feel they don’t have anything to add to the scholars they are citing; here are some strategies to help you:

  • It often helps to remember that the point of these kinds of syntheses is to show your readers how you understand your research, to help them read the rest of your paper.
  • Writing teachers often say synthesis is like hosting a dinner party: imagine all your sources are together in a room, discussing your topic. What are they saying to each other?
  • Look at the in-text citations in each paragraph. Are you citing just one source for each paragraph? This usually indicates summary only. When you have multiple sources cited in a paragraph, you are more likely to be synthesizing them (not always, but often
  • Read more about synthesis here.

The most interesting literature reviews are often written as arguments (again, as mentioned at the beginning of the page, this is discipline-specific and doesn’t work for all situations). Often, the literature review is where you can establish your research as filling a particular gap or as relevant in a particular way. You have some chance to do this in your introduction in an article, but the literature review section gives a more extended opportunity to establish the conversation in the way you would like your readers to see it. You can choose the intellectual lineage you would like to be part of and whose definitions matter most to your thinking (mostly humanities-specific, but this goes for sciences as well). In addressing these points, you argue for your place in the conversation, which tends to make the lit review more compelling than a simple reporting of other sources.

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  • How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates

How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates

Published on January 2, 2023 by Shona McCombes . Revised on September 11, 2023.

What is a literature review? A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources on a specific topic. It provides an overview of current knowledge, allowing you to identify relevant theories, methods, and gaps in the existing research that you can later apply to your paper, thesis, or dissertation topic .

There are five key steps to writing a literature review:

  • Search for relevant literature
  • Evaluate sources
  • Identify themes, debates, and gaps
  • Outline the structure
  • Write your literature review

A good literature review doesn’t just summarize sources—it analyzes, synthesizes , and critically evaluates to give a clear picture of the state of knowledge on the subject.

Table of contents

What is the purpose of a literature review, examples of literature reviews, step 1 – search for relevant literature, step 2 – evaluate and select sources, step 3 – identify themes, debates, and gaps, step 4 – outline your literature review’s structure, step 5 – write your literature review, free lecture slides, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions, introduction.

  • Quick Run-through
  • Step 1 & 2

When you write a thesis , dissertation , or research paper , you will likely have to conduct a literature review to situate your research within existing knowledge. The literature review gives you a chance to:

  • Demonstrate your familiarity with the topic and its scholarly context
  • Develop a theoretical framework and methodology for your research
  • Position your work in relation to other researchers and theorists
  • Show how your research addresses a gap or contributes to a debate
  • Evaluate the current state of research and demonstrate your knowledge of the scholarly debates around your topic.

Writing literature reviews is a particularly important skill if you want to apply for graduate school or pursue a career in research. We’ve written a step-by-step guide that you can follow below.

Literature review guide

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

Writing literature reviews can be quite challenging! A good starting point could be to look at some examples, depending on what kind of literature review you’d like to write.

  • Example literature review #1: “Why Do People Migrate? A Review of the Theoretical Literature” ( Theoretical literature review about the development of economic migration theory from the 1950s to today.)
  • Example literature review #2: “Literature review as a research methodology: An overview and guidelines” ( Methodological literature review about interdisciplinary knowledge acquisition and production.)
  • Example literature review #3: “The Use of Technology in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Thematic literature review about the effects of technology on language acquisition.)
  • Example literature review #4: “Learners’ Listening Comprehension Difficulties in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Chronological literature review about how the concept of listening skills has changed over time.)

You can also check out our templates with literature review examples and sample outlines at the links below.

Download Word doc Download Google doc

Before you begin searching for literature, you need a clearly defined topic .

If you are writing the literature review section of a dissertation or research paper, you will search for literature related to your research problem and questions .

Make a list of keywords

Start by creating a list of keywords related to your research question. Include each of the key concepts or variables you’re interested in, and list any synonyms and related terms. You can add to this list as you discover new keywords in the process of your literature search.

  • Social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok
  • Body image, self-perception, self-esteem, mental health
  • Generation Z, teenagers, adolescents, youth

Search for relevant sources

Use your keywords to begin searching for sources. Some useful databases to search for journals and articles include:

  • Your university’s library catalogue
  • Google Scholar
  • Project Muse (humanities and social sciences)
  • Medline (life sciences and biomedicine)
  • EconLit (economics)
  • Inspec (physics, engineering and computer science)

You can also use boolean operators to help narrow down your search.

Make sure to read the abstract to find out whether an article is relevant to your question. When you find a useful book or article, you can check the bibliography to find other relevant sources.

You likely won’t be able to read absolutely everything that has been written on your topic, so it will be necessary to evaluate which sources are most relevant to your research question.

For each publication, ask yourself:

  • What question or problem is the author addressing?
  • What are the key concepts and how are they defined?
  • What are the key theories, models, and methods?
  • Does the research use established frameworks or take an innovative approach?
  • What are the results and conclusions of the study?
  • How does the publication relate to other literature in the field? Does it confirm, add to, or challenge established knowledge?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the research?

Make sure the sources you use are credible , and make sure you read any landmark studies and major theories in your field of research.

You can use our template to summarize and evaluate sources you’re thinking about using. Click on either button below to download.

Take notes and cite your sources

As you read, you should also begin the writing process. Take notes that you can later incorporate into the text of your literature review.

It is important to keep track of your sources with citations to avoid plagiarism . It can be helpful to make an annotated bibliography , where you compile full citation information and write a paragraph of summary and analysis for each source. This helps you remember what you read and saves time later in the process.

A faster, more affordable way to improve your paper

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To begin organizing your literature review’s argument and structure, be sure you understand the connections and relationships between the sources you’ve read. Based on your reading and notes, you can look for:

  • Trends and patterns (in theory, method or results): do certain approaches become more or less popular over time?
  • Themes: what questions or concepts recur across the literature?
  • Debates, conflicts and contradictions: where do sources disagree?
  • Pivotal publications: are there any influential theories or studies that changed the direction of the field?
  • Gaps: what is missing from the literature? Are there weaknesses that need to be addressed?

This step will help you work out the structure of your literature review and (if applicable) show how your own research will contribute to existing knowledge.

  • Most research has focused on young women.
  • There is an increasing interest in the visual aspects of social media.
  • But there is still a lack of robust research on highly visual platforms like Instagram and Snapchat—this is a gap that you could address in your own research.

There are various approaches to organizing the body of a literature review. Depending on the length of your literature review, you can combine several of these strategies (for example, your overall structure might be thematic, but each theme is discussed chronologically).


The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time. However, if you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order.

Try to analyze patterns, turning points and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred.

If you have found some recurring central themes, you can organize your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic.

For example, if you are reviewing literature about inequalities in migrant health outcomes, key themes might include healthcare policy, language barriers, cultural attitudes, legal status, and economic access.


If you draw your sources from different disciplines or fields that use a variety of research methods , you might want to compare the results and conclusions that emerge from different approaches. For example:

  • Look at what results have emerged in qualitative versus quantitative research
  • Discuss how the topic has been approached by empirical versus theoretical scholarship
  • Divide the literature into sociological, historical, and cultural sources


A literature review is often the foundation for a theoretical framework . You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts.

You might argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach, or combine various theoretical concepts to create a framework for your research.

Like any other academic text , your literature review should have an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion . What you include in each depends on the objective of your literature review.

The introduction should clearly establish the focus and purpose of the literature review.

Depending on the length of your literature review, you might want to divide the body into subsections. You can use a subheading for each theme, time period, or methodological approach.

As you write, you can follow these tips:

  • Summarize and synthesize: give an overview of the main points of each source and combine them into a coherent whole
  • Analyze and interpret: don’t just paraphrase other researchers — add your own interpretations where possible, discussing the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole
  • Critically evaluate: mention the strengths and weaknesses of your sources
  • Write in well-structured paragraphs: use transition words and topic sentences to draw connections, comparisons and contrasts

In the conclusion, you should summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance.

When you’ve finished writing and revising your literature review, don’t forget to proofread thoroughly before submitting. Not a language expert? Check out Scribbr’s professional proofreading services !

This article has been adapted into lecture slides that you can use to teach your students about writing a literature review.

Scribbr slides are free to use, customize, and distribute for educational purposes.

Open Google Slides Download PowerPoint

If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility


  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources (such as books, journal articles, and theses) related to a specific topic or research question .

It is often written as part of a thesis, dissertation , or research paper , in order to situate your work in relation to existing knowledge.

There are several reasons to conduct a literature review at the beginning of a research project:

  • To familiarize yourself with the current state of knowledge on your topic
  • To ensure that you’re not just repeating what others have already done
  • To identify gaps in knowledge and unresolved problems that your research can address
  • To develop your theoretical framework and methodology
  • To provide an overview of the key findings and debates on the topic

Writing the literature review shows your reader how your work relates to existing research and what new insights it will contribute.

The literature review usually comes near the beginning of your thesis or dissertation . After the introduction , it grounds your research in a scholarly field and leads directly to your theoretical framework or methodology .

A literature review is a survey of credible sources on a topic, often used in dissertations , theses, and research papers . Literature reviews give an overview of knowledge on a subject, helping you identify relevant theories and methods, as well as gaps in existing research. Literature reviews are set up similarly to other  academic texts , with an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion .

An  annotated bibliography is a list of  source references that has a short description (called an annotation ) for each of the sources. It is often assigned as part of the research process for a  paper .  

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

McCombes, S. (2023, September 11). How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates. Scribbr. Retrieved November 3, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/dissertation/literature-review/

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How to Review a Journal Article

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For many kinds of assignments, like a  literature review , you may be asked to offer a critique or review of a journal article. This is an opportunity for you as a scholar to offer your  qualified opinion  and  evaluation  of how another scholar has composed their article, argument, and research. That means you will be expected to go beyond a simple  summary  of the article and evaluate it on a deeper level. As a college student, this might sound intimidating. However, as you engage with the research process, you are becoming immersed in a particular topic, and your insights about the way that topic is presented are valuable and can contribute to the overall conversation surrounding your topic.


Some disciplines, like Criminal Justice, may only want you to summarize the article without including your opinion or evaluation. If your assignment is to summarize the article only, please see our literature review handout.

Before getting started on the critique, it is important to review the article thoroughly and critically. To do this, we recommend take notes,  annotating , and reading the article several times before critiquing. As you read, be sure to note important items like the thesis, purpose, research questions, hypotheses, methods, evidence, key findings, major conclusions, tone, and publication information. Depending on your writing context, some of these items may not be applicable.

Questions to Consider

To evaluate a source, consider some of the following questions. They are broken down into different categories, but answering these questions will help you consider what areas to examine. With each category, we recommend identifying the strengths and weaknesses in each since that is a critical part of evaluation.

Evaluating Purpose and Argument

  • How well is the purpose made clear in the introduction through background/context and thesis?
  • How well does the abstract represent and summarize the article’s major points and argument?
  • How well does the objective of the experiment or of the observation fill a need for the field?
  • How well is the argument/purpose articulated and discussed throughout the body of the text?
  • How well does the discussion maintain cohesion?

Evaluating the Presentation/Organization of Information

  • How appropriate and clear is the title of the article?
  • Where could the author have benefited from expanding, condensing, or omitting ideas?
  • How clear are the author’s statements? Challenge ambiguous statements.
  • What underlying assumptions does the author have, and how does this affect the credibility or clarity of their article?
  • How objective is the author in his or her discussion of the topic?
  • How well does the organization fit the article’s purpose and articulate key goals?

Evaluating Methods

  • How appropriate are the study design and methods for the purposes of the study?
  • How detailed are the methods being described? Is the author leaving out important steps or considerations?
  • Have the procedures been presented in enough detail to enable the reader to duplicate them?

Evaluating Data

  • Scan and spot-check calculations. Are the statistical methods appropriate?
  • Do you find any content repeated or duplicated?
  • How many errors of fact and interpretation does the author include? (You can check on this by looking up the references the author cites).
  • What pertinent literature has the author cited, and have they used this literature appropriately?

Following, we have an example of a summary and an evaluation of a research article. Note that in most literature review contexts, the summary and evaluation would be much shorter. This extended example shows the different ways a student can critique and write about an article.

Chik, A. (2012). Digital gameplay for autonomous foreign language learning: Gamers’ and language teachers’ perspectives. In H. Reinders (ed.),  Digital games in language learning and teaching  (pp. 95-114). Eastbourne, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

Be sure to include the full citation either in a reference page or near your evaluation if writing an  annotated bibliography .

In Chik’s article “Digital Gameplay for Autonomous Foreign Language Learning: Gamers’ and Teachers’ Perspectives”, she explores the ways in which “digital gamers manage gaming and gaming-related activities to assume autonomy in their foreign language learning,” (96) which is presented in contrast to how teachers view the “pedagogical potential” of gaming. The research was described as an “umbrella project” consisting of two parts. The first part examined 34 language teachers’ perspectives who had limited experience with gaming (only five stated they played games regularly) (99). Their data was recorded through a survey, class discussion, and a seven-day gaming trial done by six teachers who recorded their reflections through personal blog posts. The second part explored undergraduate gaming habits of ten Hong Kong students who were regular gamers. Their habits were recorded through language learning histories, videotaped gaming sessions, blog entries of gaming practices, group discussion sessions, stimulated recall sessions on gaming videos, interviews with other gamers, and posts from online discussion forums. The research shows that while students recognize the educational potential of games and have seen benefits of it in their lives, the instructors overall do not see the positive impacts of gaming on foreign language learning.

The summary includes the article’s purpose, methods, results, discussion, and citations when necessary.

This article did a good job representing the undergraduate gamers’ voices through extended quotes and stories. Particularly for the data collection of the undergraduate gamers, there were many opportunities for an in-depth examination of their gaming practices and histories. However, the representation of the teachers in this study was very uneven when compared to the students. Not only were teachers labeled as numbers while the students picked out their own pseudonyms, but also when viewing the data collection, the undergraduate students were more closely examined in comparison to the teachers in the study. While the students have fifteen extended quotes describing their experiences in their research section, the teachers only have two of these instances in their section, which shows just how imbalanced the study is when presenting instructor voices.

Some research methods, like the recorded gaming sessions, were only used with students whereas teachers were only asked to blog about their gaming experiences. This creates a richer narrative for the students while also failing to give instructors the chance to have more nuanced perspectives. This lack of nuance also stems from the emphasis of the non-gamer teachers over the gamer teachers. The non-gamer teachers’ perspectives provide a stark contrast to the undergraduate gamer experiences and fits neatly with the narrative of teachers not valuing gaming as an educational tool. However, the study mentioned five teachers that were regular gamers whose perspectives are left to a short section at the end of the presentation of the teachers’ results. This was an opportunity to give the teacher group a more complex story, and the opportunity was entirely missed.

Additionally, the context of this study was not entirely clear. The instructors were recruited through a master’s level course, but the content of the course and the institution’s background is not discussed. Understanding this context helps us understand the course’s purpose(s) and how those purposes may have influenced the ways in which these teachers interpreted and saw games. It was also unclear how Chik was connected to this masters’ class and to the students. Why these particular teachers and students were recruited was not explicitly defined and also has the potential to skew results in a particular direction.

Overall, I was inclined to agree with the idea that students can benefit from language acquisition through gaming while instructors may not see the instructional value, but I believe the way the research was conducted and portrayed in this article made it very difficult to support Chik’s specific findings.

Some professors like you to begin an evaluation with something positive but isn’t always necessary.

The evaluation is clearly organized and uses transitional phrases when moving to a new topic.

This evaluation includes a summative statement that gives the overall impression of the article at the end, but this can also be placed at the beginning of the evaluation.

This evaluation mainly discusses the representation of data and methods. However, other areas, like organization, are open to critique.

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research article review paper

An article review is a critical evaluation of a scholarly or scientific piece, which aims to summarize its main ideas, assess its contributions, and provide constructive feedback. A well-written review not only benefits the author of the article under scrutiny but also serves as a valuable resource for fellow researchers and scholars. Follow these steps to create an effective and informative article review:

1. Understand the purpose: Before diving into the article, it is important to understand the intent of writing a review. This helps in focusing your thoughts, directing your analysis, and ensuring your review adds value to the academic community.

2. Read the article thoroughly: Carefully read the article multiple times to get a complete understanding of its content, arguments, and conclusions. As you read, take notes on key points, supporting evidence, and any areas that require further exploration or clarification.

3. Summarize the main ideas: In your review’s introduction, briefly outline the primary themes and arguments presented by the author(s). Keep it concise but sufficiently informative so that readers can quickly grasp the essence of the article.

4. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses: In subsequent paragraphs, assess the strengths and limitations of the article based on factors such as methodology, quality of evidence presented, coherence of arguments, and alignment with existing literature in the field. Be fair and objective while providing your critique.

5. Discuss any implications: Deliberate on how this particular piece contributes to or challenges existing knowledge in its discipline. You may also discuss potential improvements for future research or explore real-world applications stemming from this study.

6. Provide recommendations: Finally, offer suggestions for both the author(s) and readers regarding how they can further build on this work or apply its findings in practice.

7. Proofread and revise: Once your initial draft is complete, go through it carefully for clarity, accuracy, and coherence. Revise as necessary, ensuring your review is both informative and engaging for readers.

Sample Review:

A Critical Review of “The Effects of Social Media on Mental Health”


“The Effects of Social Media on Mental Health” is a timely article which investigates the relationship between social media usage and psychological well-being. The authors present compelling evidence to support their argument that excessive use of social media can result in decreased self-esteem, increased anxiety, and a negative impact on interpersonal relationships.

Strengths and weaknesses:

One of the strengths of this article lies in its well-structured methodology utilizing a variety of sources, including quantitative surveys and qualitative interviews. This approach provides a comprehensive view of the topic, allowing for a more nuanced understanding of the effects of social media on mental health. However, it would have been beneficial if the authors included a larger sample size to increase the reliability of their conclusions. Additionally, exploring how different platforms may influence mental health differently could have added depth to the analysis.


The findings in this article contribute significantly to ongoing debates surrounding the psychological implications of social media use. It highlights the potential dangers that excessive engagement with online platforms may pose to one’s mental well-being and encourages further research into interventions that could mitigate these risks. The study also offers an opportunity for educators and policy-makers to take note and develop strategies to foster healthier online behavior.


Future researchers should consider investigating how specific social media platforms impact mental health outcomes, as this could lead to more targeted interventions. For practitioners, implementing educational programs aimed at promoting healthy online habits may be beneficial in mitigating the potential negative consequences associated with excessive social media use.


Overall, “The Effects of Social Media on Mental Health” is an important and informative piece that raises awareness about a pressing issue in today’s digital age. Given its minor limitations, it provides valuable

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  • Published: 02 October 2017

Review articles: purpose, process, and structure

  • Robert W. Palmatier 1 ,
  • Mark B. Houston 2 &
  • John Hulland 3  

Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science volume  46 ,  pages 1–5 ( 2018 ) Cite this article

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Many research disciplines feature high-impact journals that are dedicated outlets for review papers (or review–conceptual combinations) (e.g., Academy of Management Review , Psychology Bulletin , Medicinal Research Reviews ). The rationale for such outlets is the premise that research integration and synthesis provides an important, and possibly even a required, step in the scientific process. Review papers tend to include both quantitative (i.e., meta-analytic, systematic reviews) and narrative or more qualitative components; together, they provide platforms for new conceptual frameworks, reveal inconsistencies in the extant body of research, synthesize diverse results, and generally give other scholars a “state-of-the-art” snapshot of a domain, often written by topic experts (Bem 1995 ). Many premier marketing journals publish meta-analytic review papers too, though authors often must overcome reviewers’ concerns that their contributions are limited due to the absence of “new data.” Furthermore, relatively few non-meta-analysis review papers appear in marketing journals, probably due to researchers’ perceptions that such papers have limited publication opportunities or their beliefs that the field lacks a research tradition or “respect” for such papers. In many cases, an editor must provide strong support to help such review papers navigate the review process. Yet, once published, such papers tend to be widely cited, suggesting that members of the field find them useful (see Bettencourt and Houston 2001 ).

In this editorial, we seek to address three topics relevant to review papers. First, we outline a case for their importance to the scientific process, by describing the purpose of review papers . Second, we detail the review paper editorial initiative conducted over the past two years by the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science ( JAMS ), focused on increasing the prevalence of review papers. Third, we describe a process and structure for systematic ( i.e. , non-meta-analytic) review papers , referring to Grewal et al. ( 2018 ) insights into parallel meta-analytic (effects estimation) review papers. (For some strong recent examples of marketing-related meta-analyses, see Knoll and Matthes 2017 ; Verma et al. 2016 ).

Purpose of review papers

In their most general form, review papers “are critical evaluations of material that has already been published,” some that include quantitative effects estimation (i.e., meta-analyses) and some that do not (i.e., systematic reviews) (Bem 1995 , p. 172). They carefully identify and synthesize relevant literature to evaluate a specific research question, substantive domain, theoretical approach, or methodology and thereby provide readers with a state-of-the-art understanding of the research topic. Many of these benefits are highlighted in Hanssens’ ( 2018 ) paper titled “The Value of Empirical Generalizations in Marketing,” published in this same issue of JAMS.

The purpose of and contributions associated with review papers can vary depending on their specific type and research question, but in general, they aim to

Resolve definitional ambiguities and outline the scope of the topic.

Provide an integrated, synthesized overview of the current state of knowledge.

Identify inconsistencies in prior results and potential explanations (e.g., moderators, mediators, measures, approaches).

Evaluate existing methodological approaches and unique insights.

Develop conceptual frameworks to reconcile and extend past research.

Describe research insights, existing gaps, and future research directions.

Not every review paper can offer all of these benefits, but this list represents their key contributions. To provide a sufficient contribution, a review paper needs to achieve three key standards. First, the research domain needs to be well suited for a review paper, such that a sufficient body of past research exists to make the integration and synthesis valuable—especially if extant research reveals theoretical inconsistences or heterogeneity in its effects. Second, the review paper must be well executed, with an appropriate literature collection and analysis techniques, sufficient breadth and depth of literature coverage, and a compelling writing style. Third, the manuscript must offer significant new insights based on its systematic comparison of multiple studies, rather than simply a “book report” that describes past research. This third, most critical standard is often the most difficult, especially for authors who have not “lived” with the research domain for many years, because achieving it requires drawing some non-obvious connections and insights from multiple studies and their many different aspects (e.g., context, method, measures). Typically, after the “review” portion of the paper has been completed, the authors must spend many more months identifying the connections to uncover incremental insights, each of which takes time to detail and explicate.

The increasing methodological rigor and technical sophistication of many marketing studies also means that they often focus on smaller problems with fewer constructs. By synthesizing these piecemeal findings, reconciling conflicting evidence, and drawing a “big picture,” meta-analyses and systematic review papers become indispensable to our comprehensive understanding of a phenomenon, among both academic and practitioner communities. Thus, good review papers provide a solid platform for future research, in the reviewed domain but also in other areas, in that researchers can use a good review paper to learn about and extend key insights to new areas.

This domain extension, outside of the core area being reviewed, is one of the key benefits of review papers that often gets overlooked. Yet it also is becoming ever more important with the expanding breadth of marketing (e.g., econometric modeling, finance, strategic management, applied psychology, sociology) and the increasing velocity in the accumulation of marketing knowledge (e.g., digital marketing, social media, big data). Against this backdrop, systematic review papers and meta-analyses help academics and interested managers keep track of research findings that fall outside their main area of specialization.

JAMS’ review paper editorial initiative

With a strong belief in the importance of review papers, the editorial team of JAMS has purposely sought out leading scholars to provide substantive review papers, both meta-analysis and systematic, for publication in JAMS . Many of the scholars approached have voiced concerns about the risk of such endeavors, due to the lack of alternative outlets for these types of papers. Therefore, we have instituted a unique process, in which the authors develop a detailed outline of their paper, key tables and figures, and a description of their literature review process. On the basis of this outline, we grant assurances that the contribution hurdle will not be an issue for publication in JAMS , as long as the authors execute the proposed outline as written. Each paper still goes through the normal review process and must meet all publication quality standards, of course. In many cases, an Area Editor takes an active role to help ensure that each paper provides sufficient insights, as required for a high-quality review paper. This process gives the author team confidence to invest effort in the process. An analysis of the marketing journals in the Financial Times (FT 50) journal list for the past five years (2012–2016) shows that JAMS has become the most common outlet for these papers, publishing 31% of all review papers that appeared in the top six marketing journals.

As a next step in positioning JAMS as a receptive marketing outlet for review papers, we are conducting a Thought Leaders Conference on Generalizations in Marketing: Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses , with a corresponding special issue (see www.springer.com/jams ). We will continue our process of seeking out review papers as an editorial strategy in areas that could be advanced by the integration and synthesis of extant research. We expect that, ultimately, such efforts will become unnecessary, as authors initiate review papers on topics of their own choosing to submit them to JAMS . In the past two years, JAMS already has increased the number of papers it publishes annually, from just over 40 to around 60 papers per year; this growth has provided “space” for 8–10 review papers per year, reflecting our editorial target.

Consistent with JAMS ’ overall focus on managerially relevant and strategy-focused topics, all review papers should reflect this emphasis. For example, the domains, theories, and methods reviewed need to have some application to past or emerging managerial research. A good rule of thumb is that the substantive domain, theory, or method should attract the attention of readers of JAMS .

The efforts of multiple editors and Area Editors in turn have generated a body of review papers that can serve as useful examples of the different types and approaches that JAMS has published.

Domain-based review papers

Domain-based review papers review, synthetize, and extend a body of literature in the same substantive domain. For example, in “The Role of Privacy in Marketing” (Martin and Murphy 2017 ), the authors identify and define various privacy-related constructs that have appeared in recent literature. Then they examine the different theoretical perspectives brought to bear on privacy topics related to consumers and organizations, including ethical and legal perspectives. These foundations lead in to their systematic review of privacy-related articles over a clearly defined date range, from which they extract key insights from each study. This exercise of synthesizing diverse perspectives allows these authors to describe state-of-the-art knowledge regarding privacy in marketing and identify useful paths for research. Similarly, a new paper by Cleeren et al. ( 2017 ), “Marketing Research on Product-Harm Crises: A Review, Managerial Implications, and an Agenda for Future Research,” provides a rich systematic review, synthesizes extant research, and points the way forward for scholars who are interested in issues related to defective or dangerous market offerings.

Theory-based review papers

Theory-based review papers review, synthetize, and extend a body of literature that uses the same underlying theory. For example, Rindfleisch and Heide’s ( 1997 ) classic review of research in marketing using transaction cost economics has been cited more than 2200 times, with a significant impact on applications of the theory to the discipline in the past 20 years. A recent paper in JAMS with similar intent, which could serve as a helpful model, focuses on “Resource-Based Theory in Marketing” (Kozlenkova et al. 2014 ). The article dives deeply into a description of the theory and its underlying assumptions, then organizes a systematic review of relevant literature according to various perspectives through which the theory has been applied in marketing. The authors conclude by identifying topical domains in marketing that might benefit from additional applications of the theory (e.g., marketing exchange), as well as related theories that could be integrated meaningfully with insights from the resource-based theory.

Method-based review papers

Method-based review papers review, synthetize, and extend a body of literature that uses the same underlying method. For example, in “Event Study Methodology in the Marketing Literature: An Overview” (Sorescu et al. 2017 ), the authors identify published studies in marketing that use an event study methodology. After a brief review of the theoretical foundations of event studies, they describe in detail the key design considerations associated with this method. The article then provides a roadmap for conducting event studies and compares this approach with a stock market returns analysis. The authors finish with a summary of the strengths and weaknesses of the event study method, which in turn suggests three main areas for further research. Similarly, “Discriminant Validity Testing in Marketing: An Analysis, Causes for Concern, and Proposed Remedies” (Voorhies et al. 2016 ) systematically reviews existing approaches for assessing discriminant validity in marketing contexts, then uses Monte Carlo simulation to determine which tests are most effective.

Our long-term editorial strategy is to make sure JAMS becomes and remains a well-recognized outlet for both meta-analysis and systematic managerial review papers in marketing. Ideally, review papers would come to represent 10%–20% of the papers published by the journal.

Process and structure for review papers

In this section, we review the process and typical structure of a systematic review paper, which lacks any long or established tradition in marketing research. The article by Grewal et al. ( 2018 ) provides a summary of effects-focused review papers (i.e., meta-analyses), so we do not discuss them in detail here.

Systematic literature review process

Some review papers submitted to journals take a “narrative” approach. They discuss current knowledge about a research domain, yet they often are flawed, in that they lack criteria for article inclusion (or, more accurately, article exclusion), fail to discuss the methodology used to evaluate included articles, and avoid critical assessment of the field (Barczak 2017 ). Such reviews tend to be purely descriptive, with little lasting impact.

In contrast, a systematic literature review aims to “comprehensively locate and synthesize research that bears on a particular question, using organized, transparent, and replicable procedures at each step in the process” (Littell et al. 2008 , p. 1). Littell et al. describe six key steps in the systematic review process. The extent to which each step is emphasized varies by paper, but all are important components of the review.

Topic formulation . The author sets out clear objectives for the review and articulates the specific research questions or hypotheses that will be investigated.

Study design . The author specifies relevant problems, populations, constructs, and settings of interest. The aim is to define explicit criteria that can be used to assess whether any particular study should be included in or excluded from the review. Furthermore, it is important to develop a protocol in advance that describes the procedures and methods to be used to evaluate published work.

Sampling . The aim in this third step is to identify all potentially relevant studies, including both published and unpublished research. To this end, the author must first define the sampling unit to be used in the review (e.g., individual, strategic business unit) and then develop an appropriate sampling plan.

Data collection . By retrieving the potentially relevant studies identified in the third step, the author can determine whether each study meets the eligibility requirements set out in the second step. For studies deemed acceptable, the data are extracted from each study and entered into standardized templates. These templates should be based on the protocols established in step 2.

Data analysis . The degree and nature of the analyses used to describe and examine the collected data vary widely by review. Purely descriptive analysis is useful as a starting point but rarely is sufficient on its own. The examination of trends, clusters of ideas, and multivariate relationships among constructs helps flesh out a deeper understanding of the domain. For example, both Hult ( 2015 ) and Huber et al. ( 2014 ) use bibliometric approaches (e.g., examine citation data using multidimensional scaling and cluster analysis techniques) to identify emerging versus declining themes in the broad field of marketing.

Reporting . Three key aspects of this final step are common across systematic reviews. First, the results from the fifth step need to be presented, clearly and compellingly, using narratives, tables, and figures. Second, core results that emerge from the review must be interpreted and discussed by the author. These revelatory insights should reflect a deeper understanding of the topic being investigated, not simply a regurgitation of well-established knowledge. Third, the author needs to describe the implications of these unique insights for both future research and managerial practice.

A new paper by Watson et al. ( 2017 ), “Harnessing Difference: A Capability-Based Framework for Stakeholder Engagement in Environmental Innovation,” provides a good example of a systematic review, starting with a cohesive conceptual framework that helps establish the boundaries of the review while also identifying core constructs and their relationships. The article then explicitly describes the procedures used to search for potentially relevant papers and clearly sets out criteria for study inclusion or exclusion. Next, a detailed discussion of core elements in the framework weaves published research findings into the exposition. The paper ends with a presentation of key implications and suggestions for the next steps. Similarly, “Marketing Survey Research Best Practices: Evidence and Recommendations from a Review of JAMS Articles” (Hulland et al. 2017 ) systematically reviews published marketing studies that use survey techniques, describes recent trends, and suggests best practices. In their review, Hulland et al. examine the entire population of survey papers published in JAMS over a ten-year span, relying on an extensive standardized data template to facilitate their subsequent data analysis.

Structure of systematic review papers

There is no cookie-cutter recipe for the exact structure of a useful systematic review paper; the final structure depends on the authors’ insights and intended points of emphasis. However, several key components are likely integral to a paper’s ability to contribute.

Depth and rigor

Systematic review papers must avoid falling in to two potential “ditches.” The first ditch threatens when the paper fails to demonstrate that a systematic approach was used for selecting articles for inclusion and capturing their insights. If a reader gets the impression that the author has cherry-picked only articles that fit some preset notion or failed to be thorough enough, without including articles that make significant contributions to the field, the paper will be consigned to the proverbial side of the road when it comes to the discipline’s attention.

Authors that fall into the other ditch present a thorough, complete overview that offers only a mind-numbing recitation, without evident organization, synthesis, or critical evaluation. Although comprehensive, such a paper is more of an index than a useful review. The reviewed articles must be grouped in a meaningful way to guide the reader toward a better understanding of the focal phenomenon and provide a foundation for insights about future research directions. Some scholars organize research by scholarly perspectives (e.g., the psychology of privacy, the economics of privacy; Martin and Murphy 2017 ); others classify the chosen articles by objective research aspects (e.g., empirical setting, research design, conceptual frameworks; Cleeren et al. 2017 ). The method of organization chosen must allow the author to capture the complexity of the underlying phenomenon (e.g., including temporal or evolutionary aspects, if relevant).


Processes for the identification and inclusion of research articles should be described in sufficient detail, such that an interested reader could replicate the procedure. The procedures used to analyze chosen articles and extract their empirical findings and/or key takeaways should be described with similar specificity and detail.

We already have noted the potential usefulness of well-done review papers. Some scholars always are new to the field or domain in question, so review papers also need to help them gain foundational knowledge. Key constructs, definitions, assumptions, and theories should be laid out clearly (for which purpose summary tables are extremely helpful). An integrated conceptual model can be useful to organize cited works. Most scholars integrate the knowledge they gain from reading the review paper into their plans for future research, so it is also critical that review papers clearly lay out implications (and specific directions) for research. Ideally, readers will come away from a review article filled with enthusiasm about ways they might contribute to the ongoing development of the field.

Helpful format

Because such a large body of research is being synthesized in most review papers, simply reading through the list of included studies can be exhausting for readers. We cannot overstate the importance of tables and figures in review papers, used in conjunction with meaningful headings and subheadings. Vast literature review tables often are essential, but they must be organized in a way that makes their insights digestible to the reader; in some cases, a sequence of more focused tables may be better than a single, comprehensive table.

In summary, articles that review extant research in a domain (topic, theory, or method) can be incredibly useful to the scientific progress of our field. Whether integrating the insights from extant research through a meta-analysis or synthesizing them through a systematic assessment, the promised benefits are similar. Both formats provide readers with a useful overview of knowledge about the focal phenomenon, as well as insights on key dilemmas and conflicting findings that suggest future research directions. Thus, the editorial team at JAMS encourages scholars to continue to invest the time and effort to construct thoughtful review papers.

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Mark B. Houston

Terry College of Business, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA

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Palmatier, R.W., Houston, M.B. & Hulland, J. Review articles: purpose, process, and structure. J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. 46 , 1–5 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11747-017-0563-4

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Published : 02 October 2017

Issue Date : January 2018

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/s11747-017-0563-4

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How to Write a Best Review Paper to Get More Citation

Review Paper Writing Guide

Dr. Sowndarya Somasundaram

How to write review paper

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Table of contents

What is a review paper, difference between a review paper and research paper, 6 t ypes of review papers, purpose of review paper, criteria for good review paper, step-by-step systematic procedure to write a review paper, sample review article format.

Are you new to academia ? Do you want to learn how to write a good review paper to get in-depth knowledge about your domain? you are at the right place. In this article, you will learn how to write the best review paper in a step-by-step systematic procedure with a sample review article format to get more Citation.

A review paper, also known as a literature review , is a thorough, analytical examination of previously published literature. It also provides an overview of current research works on a particular topic in chronological order.

  • The main objective of writing a review paper is to evaluate the existing data or results, which can be done through analysis, modeling, classification, comparison, and summary.  
  • Review papers can help to identify the research gaps, to explore potential areas in a particular field.
  • It helps to come out with new conclusions from already published works.
  • Any scholar or researcher or scientist who wants to carryout research on a specific theme, first read the review articles relevant to that research area to understand the research gap for arriving at the problem statement.
  • Writing a review article provides clarity, novelty, and contribution to the area of research and it demands a great level of in-depth understanding of the subject and a well-structured arrangement of discussions and arguments.
  • There are some journals that publish only review papers, and they do not accept research articles. It is important to check the journal submission guidelines.

The difference between a review paper and research paper is presented below.

The review papers are classified in to six main categories based on the theme and it is presented in the figure below.

Types of Review Papers

The purpose of a review paper is to assess a particular research question, theoretical or practical approach which provides readers with in-depth knowledge and state-of-the-art understanding of the research area.

The purpose of the review paper can vary based on their specific type and research needs.

  • Provide a unified, collective overview of the current state of knowledge on a specific research topic and provide an inclusive foundation on a research theme.
  • Identify ambiguity, contradictions in existing results or data.
  • Highlight the existing methodological approaches, research techniques, and unique perceptions.
  • Develop theoretical outlines to resolve and work on published research.
  • Discuss research gaps and future perspectives.

A good review paper needs to achieve three important criteria. ( Palmatier et al 2017 ).

  • First, the area of research should be suitable for writing a review paper so that the author finds sufficient published literature.
  • The review paper should be written with suitable literature, detailed discussion, sufficient data/results to support the interpretation, and persuasive language style.
  • A completed review paper should provide substantial new innovative ideas to the readers based on the comparison of published works.

Review papers are widely read by many researchers and it helps to get more citations for author. So, it is important to learn how to write a review paper and find a journal to publish .

Time needed:  20 days and 7 hours

The systematic procedural steps to write a the best review paper as follows:

Select a suitable area in your research field and formulate clear objectives, and prepare the specific research hypotheses that are to be explored.

Designing your research work is an important step for any researcher. Based on the objectives, develop a clear methodology or protocol to review a review paper.

Thorough analysis and understanding of different published works help the author to identify suitable and relevant data/results which will be used to write the paper.

The degree of analysis to evaluate the collected data vary by extensive review. The examination of treads, patterns, ideas, comparisons, and relationships among the study provides deeper knowledge on that area of research .

Interpretation of results is very important for a good review paper. The author should present the discussion in a systematic manner without any ambiguity. The results can be presented in descriptive form, tables, and figures. The new insights should have an in-depth discussion of the topic in line with fundamentals. Finally, the author is expected to present the limitations of the existing study with future perspectives.

Steps to Write a Review Paper

  • Title, Abstract, Keywords

Write an effective and suitable title, abstract and keywords relevant to your review paper. This will maximize the visibility of your paper online for the readers to find your work. Your title and abstract should be clear, concise, appropriate, and informative.

  • Introduction

Present a detailed introduction to your research which is published in chronological order in your own words. Don’t summarize the published literature. The introduction should encourage the readers to read your paper.

  • Various topics to discuss the critical issues

Make sure you present a critical discussion, not a descriptive summary of the topic. If there is contradictory research in your area of research, verify to include an element of debate and present both sides of the argument. A good review paper can resolve the conflict between contradictory works.

  • Conclusion and Future perspectives

The written review paper should achieve your objectives. Hence, the review paper should leave the reader with a clear understanding of following questions:

What they can understand from the review paper?

What still remains a requirement of further investigation in the research area?

This can include making suggestions for future scope on the theme as part of your conclusion.

  • Acknowledgement       

The authors can submit a brief acknowledgement of any financial, instrumentation, and academic support received pertaining to research work.

Citing references at appropriate places in the article is necessary and important to avoid plagiarism. Each journal has its own referencing style. Therefore, the references need to be listed at the end of the manuscript. The number of references in the review paper is usually higher than in a research paper .

Hope this article would give you a clear idea on how to write a review paper. Please give your valuable comments.

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This blog is very informative. Is it true that an increase in the number of citations improves the quality and impact of a review paper?

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A Guide to Using AI Tools to Summarize Literature Reviews

Sumalatha G

Table of Contents

Needless to say, millions of scientific articles are getting published every year making it difficult for a researcher to read and comprehend all the relevant publications.

Back then, researchers used to manually conduct literature reviews by sifting through hundreds of research papers to get the significant information required for the research.

Fast forward to 2023 — things have turned out quite distinct and favorable. With the inception of AI tools, the literature review process is streamlined and researchers can summarize hundreds of research articles in mere moments. They can save time and effort by using AI tools to summarize literature reviews.

This article articulates the role of the top AI tools used to summarize literature reviews. You can also learn how AI is used as a powerful tool for summarizing scientific articles and understanding the impact of AI on academic research.

Understanding the Role of AI Tools in Literature Reviews

Before we talk about the benefits of AI tools to summarize literature reviews, let’s understand the concept of AI and how it streamlines the literature review process.

Artificial intelligence tools are trained on large language models and they are programmed to mimic human tasks like problem-solving, making decisions, understanding patterns, and more. When Artificial Intelligence and machine learning algorithms are implemented in literature reviews, they help in processing vast amounts of information, identifying highly relevant studies, and generating quick and concise summaries — TL;DR summaries.

AI has revolutionized the process of literature review by assisting researchers with powerful AI-based tools to read, analyze, compare, contrast, and extract relevant information from research articles.

By using natural language processing algorithms, AI tools can effectively identify key concepts, main arguments, and relevant findings from multiple research articles at once. This assists researchers in quickly understanding the overview of the existing literature on a respective topic, saving their valuable time and effort.

Key Benefits of Using AI Tools to Summarize Literature Review

1. best alternative to traditional literature review.

Traditional literature reviews or manual literature reviews can be incredibly time-consuming and often require weeks or even months to complete. Researchers have to sift through myriad articles manually, read them in detail, and highlight or extract relevant information. This process can be overwhelming, especially when dealing with a large number of studies.

However, with the help of AI tools, researchers can greatly save time and effort required to discover, analyze, and summarize relevant studies. AI tools with their NLP and machine learning algorithms can quickly analyze multiple research articles and generate succinct summaries. This not only improves efficiency but also allows researchers to focus on the core analysis and interpretation of the compiled insights.

2. AI tools aid in swift research discovery!

AI tools also help researchers save time in the discovery phase of literature reviews. These AI-powered tools use semantic search analysis to identify relevant studies that might go unnoticed in traditional literature review methods. Also, AI tools can analyze keywords, citations , and other metadata to prompt or suggest pertinent articles that align and correlate well with the researcher’s search query.

3. AI Tools ensure to stay up to date with the most research ideas!

Another advantage of using AI-powered tools in literature reviews is their ability to handle the ever-increasing volume of published scientific research. With the exponential growth of scientific literature, it has become increasingly challenging for researchers to keep up with the latest scientific research and biomedical innovations.

However, AI tools can automatically scan and discover new publications, ensuring that researchers stay up-to-date with the most recent developments in their field of study.

4. Improves efficiency and accuracy of Literature Reviews

The use of AI tools in literature review reduces the occurrences of human errors that may occur during traditional literature review or manual document summarization. So, literature review AI tools improve the overall efficiency and accuracy of literature reviews, ensuring that researchers can access relevant information promptly by minimizing human errors.

List of AI Tools to Streamline Literature Reviews

We have several AI-powered tools to summarize literature reviews. They utilize advanced algorithms and natural language processing techniques to analyze and summarize lengthy scientific articles.

Let's take a look at some of the most popular AI tools to summarize literature reviews.

SciSpace Literature Review

Semantic scholar, paper digest.

SciSpace Literature Review is the best AI tool for summarizing literature review. It is the go-to tool that summarizes articles in seconds. It uses natural language processing models GPT 3.5 and GPT 4.0 to generate concise summaries. It is an effective and efficient AI-powered tool to streamline the literature review process and summarize multiple research articles at once. Once you enter a keyword, research topic, or question, it initiates your literature review process by providing instant insights from the top 5 highly relevant papers at the top.

These insights are backed by citations that allow you to refer to the source. All the resultant relevant papers appear in an easy-to-digest tabular format explaining each of the sections used in the paper in different columns. You can also customize the table by adding or removing the columns according to your research needs. This is the unique feature of this literature review AI tool.

SciSpace Literature review stands out as the best AI tool to summarize literature review by providing concise TL;DR text and summaries for all the sections used in the research paper. This way, it makes the review process easier for any researcher, and could comprehend more research papers in less time.

Try SciSpace Literature Review now!

research article review paper

Semantic Scholar is an AI-powered search engine that helps researchers find relevant research papers based on the keyword or research topic. It works similar to Google Scholar.It helps you discover and understand scientific research by providing suitable research papers. The database has over 200 million research articles, you can filter out the results based on the field of study, author, date of publication, and journals or conferences.

They have recently released the Semantic Reader — an AI-powered tool for scientific readers that enhances the reading process. This is available in the beta version.

Try Semantic Scholar here

Paper Digest

Paper Digest — another valuable text summarizer tool (AI-powered tool) that summarizes the literature review and helps you get to the core insights of the research paper in a few minutes! This powerful tool works pretty straightforwardly and generates summaries of research papers. You just need to input the article URL or DOI and click on “Digest” to get the summaries. It comes for free and is currently in the beta version.

You can access Paper Digest here !


SciSummary is another AI tool that summarizes scientific articles and literature review. It uses natural language processing algorithm to generate concise summaries. You need to upload the document on the dashboard or send the article link via email and your summaries will be generated and delivered to your inbox. This is the best AI-powered tool that helps you read and understand lengthy and complicated research papers. It has different pricing plans (both free and premium) which start at $4.99/month, you can choose the plans according to your needs.

You can access SciSummary here

Step-by-Step Guide to Using AI Tools to Summarize Literature Reviews

Here’s a short step-by-step guide that clearly articulates how to use AI tools for summary generation!

  • Select the AI-powered tool that best suits your research needs.
  • Once you've chosen a tool, you must provide input, such as an article link, DOI, or PDF, to the tool.
  • The AI tool will then process the input using its algorithms and techniques, generating a summary of the literature.
  • The generated summary will contain the most important information, including key points, methodologies, and conclusions in a succinct format.
  • Review and assess the generated summaries to ensure accuracy and relevance.

Challenges of using AI tools for summarization

AI tools are designed to generate precise summaries, however, they may sometimes miss out on important facts or misinterpret specific information.

Here are the potential challenges and risks researchers should be wary of when using AI tools to summarize literature reviews!

1. Lack of contextual intelligence

AI-powered tools cannot ensure that they completely understand the context of the research papers. This leads to inappropriate or misleading summaries of similar academic papers.

To combat this, researchers should feed additional context to the AI prompt or use AI tools with more advanced training models that can better understand the complexities of the research papers.

2. AI tools cannot ensure foolproof summaries

While AI tools can immensely speed up the summarization process, but, they may not be able to capture the complete essence of a research paper or accurately decrypt complex concepts.

Therefore, AI tools are just to be considered as technology aids rather than replacements for human analysis or understanding of key information.

3. Potential bias in the generated summaries

AI-powered tools are largely trained on the existing data, and if the training data is biased, it can eventually lead to biased summaries.

Researchers should be cautious and ensure that the training data is diverse and representative of various sources, different perspectives, and research domains.

4. Quality of the input article affects the summary output

The quality of the research article that we upload or input data also has a direct effect on the accuracy of the generated summaries.

If the input article is poorly written or contains errors, the AI tool might not be able to generate coherent and accurate summaries. Researchers should select high-quality academic papers and articles to obtain reliable and informative summaries.


AI summarization tools have a substantial impact on academic research. By leveraging AI tools, researchers can streamline the literature review process, enabling them to stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in their field of study and make informed decisions based on a comprehensive understanding of current knowledge.

By understanding the role of AI tool to summarize literature review, exploring different AI tools for summarization, following a systematic review process, and assessing the impact of these tools on their academic research, researchers can harness AI tools in enhancing their literature review processes.

If you are also keen to explore the best AI-powered tool for summarizing the literature review process, head over to SciSpace Literature Review and start analyzing the research papers right away — SciSpace Literature Review

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Types of journal articles

It is helpful to familiarise yourself with the different types of articles published by journals. Although it may appear there are a large number of types of articles published due to the wide variety of names they are published under, most articles published are one of the following types; Original Research, Review Articles, Short reports or Letters, Case Studies, Methodologies.

Original Research:

This is the most common type of journal manuscript used to publish full reports of data from research. It may be called an  Original Article, Research Article, Research, or just  Article, depending on the journal. The Original Research format is suitable for many different fields and different types of studies. It includes full Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion sections.

Short reports or Letters:

These papers communicate brief reports of data from original research that editors believe will be interesting to many researchers, and that will likely stimulate further research in the field. As they are relatively short the format is useful for scientists with results that are time sensitive (for example, those in highly competitive or quickly-changing disciplines). This format often has strict length limits, so some experimental details may not be published until the authors write a full Original Research manuscript. These papers are also sometimes called Brief communications .

Review Articles:

Review Articles provide a comprehensive summary of research on a certain topic, and a perspective on the state of the field and where it is heading. They are often written by leaders in a particular discipline after invitation from the editors of a journal. Reviews are often widely read (for example, by researchers looking for a full introduction to a field) and highly cited. Reviews commonly cite approximately 100 primary research articles.

TIP: If you would like to write a Review but have not been invited by a journal, be sure to check the journal website as some journals to not consider unsolicited Reviews. If the website does not mention whether Reviews are commissioned it is wise to send a pre-submission enquiry letter to the journal editor to propose your Review manuscript before you spend time writing it.  

Case Studies:

These articles report specific instances of interesting phenomena. A goal of Case Studies is to make other researchers aware of the possibility that a specific phenomenon might occur. This type of study is often used in medicine to report the occurrence of previously unknown or emerging pathologies.

Methodologies or Methods

These articles present a new experimental method, test or procedure. The method described may either be completely new, or may offer a better version of an existing method. The article should describe a demonstrable advance on what is currently available.

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Computer Science > Cryptography and Security

Title: prompt-specific poisoning attacks on text-to-image generative models.

Abstract: Data poisoning attacks manipulate training data to introduce unexpected behaviors into machine learning models at training time. For text-to-image generative models with massive training datasets, current understanding of poisoning attacks suggests that a successful attack would require injecting millions of poison samples into their training pipeline. In this paper, we show that poisoning attacks can be successful on generative models. We observe that training data per concept can be quite limited in these models, making them vulnerable to prompt-specific poisoning attacks, which target a model's ability to respond to individual prompts. We introduce Nightshade, an optimized prompt-specific poisoning attack where poison samples look visually identical to benign images with matching text prompts. Nightshade poison samples are also optimized for potency and can corrupt an Stable Diffusion SDXL prompt in <100 poison samples. Nightshade poison effects "bleed through" to related concepts, and multiple attacks can composed together in a single prompt. Surprisingly, we show that a moderate number of Nightshade attacks can destabilize general features in a text-to-image generative model, effectively disabling its ability to generate meaningful images. Finally, we propose the use of Nightshade` and similar tools as a last defense for content creators against web scrapers that ignore opt-out/do-not-crawl directives, and discuss possible implications for model trainers and content creators.

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Infographic: 5 Differences between a research paper and a review paper

5 Differences between a research paper and a review paper

Andrea Hayward

There are different types of scholarly literature . Some of these require researchers to conduct an original study, whereas others can be based on previously published research. Understanding each of these types and also how they differ from one another can be rather confusing for researchers, especially early career researchers. One of the most popular questions on our Q&A forum - What is the difference between a research paper and a review paper? - led us to conclude that of all the types of scholarly literature, researchers tend to be most perplexed by the distinction between a research paper and a review paper. This infographic explains the five main differences between these two types of scholarly papers. 

Feel free to download a PDF version of this infographic and print it out as handy reference.

You might find this course helpful: Manuscript writing

Related reading:

To learn about the different types of review papers, browse through this SlideShare presentation -  What types of articles do journals publish?


  • What is the difference between a research paper and a review paper?
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The Challenges and Flaws of Interpreting Results with Statistical Significance

The researchers and policymakers need to be made aware of the challenges and flaws of null hypothesis significance testing. When writing and interpreting the results of research articles and policy papers, one should be able to critique the findings and suggestions.

This article is inspired by the talk given by T S Krishnan (IIM Nagpur) at NIT-Calicut and from the discussions of the Academy of Management Research Methods Symposium, in Chicago, IL, in August 2018. The authors thank T S Krishnan (IIM Nagpur) for reading this manuscript and providing valuable suggestions and Althaf S (NIT-C) for providing valuable guidance and direction while writing this article. The authors are also thankful for the reviewer’s suggestions and comments.  

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Review vs. Research Articles

How can you tell if you are looking at a research paper, review paper or a systematic review  examples and article characteristics are provided below to help you figure it out., research papers.

A research article describes a study that was performed by the article’s author(s). It explains the methodology of the study, such as how data was collected and analyzed, and clarifies what the results mean. Each step of the study is reported in detail so that other researchers can repeat the experiment.

To determine if a paper is a research article, examine its wording. Research articles describe actions taken by the researcher(s) during the experimental process. Look for statements like “we tested,” “I measured,” or “we investigated.” Research articles also describe the outcomes of studies. Check for phrases like “the study found” or “the results indicate.” Next, look closely at the formatting of the article. Research papers are divided into sections that occur in a particular order: abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion, and references.

Let's take a closer look at this research paper by Bacon et al. published in the International Journal of Hypertension :


Review Papers

Review articles do not describe original research conducted by the author(s). Instead, they give an overview of a specific subject by examining previously published studies on the topic. The author searches for and selects studies on the subject and then tries to make sense of their findings. In particular, review articles look at whether the outcomes of the chosen studies are similar, and if they are not, attempt to explain the conflicting results. By interpreting the findings of previous studies, review articles are able to present the current knowledge and understanding of a specific topic.

Since review articles summarize the research on a particular topic, students should read them for background information before consulting detailed, technical research articles. Furthermore, review articles are a useful starting point for a research project because their reference lists can be used to find additional articles on the subject.

Let's take a closer look at this review paper by Bacon et al. published in Sports Medicine :


Systematic Review Papers

A systematic review is a type of review article that tries to limit the occurrence of bias. Traditional, non-systematic reviews can be biased because they do not include all of the available papers on the review’s topic; only certain studies are discussed by the author. No formal process is used to decide which articles to include in the review. Consequently, unpublished articles, older papers, works in foreign languages, manuscripts published in small journals, and studies that conflict with the author’s beliefs can be overlooked or excluded. Since traditional reviews do not have to explain the techniques used to select the studies, it can be difficult to determine if the author’s bias affected the review’s findings.

Systematic reviews were developed to address the problem of bias. Unlike traditional reviews, which cover a broad topic, systematic reviews focus on a single question, such as if a particular intervention successfully treats a medical condition. Systematic reviews then track down all of the available studies that address the question, choose some to include in the review, and critique them using predetermined criteria. The studies are found, selected, and evaluated using a formal, scientific methodology in order to minimize the effect of the author’s bias. The methodology is clearly explained in the systematic review so that readers can form opinions about the quality of the review.

Let's take a closer look this systematic review paper by Vigano et al. published in Lancet Oncology :


Finding Review and Research Papers in PubMed

Many databases have special features that allow the searcher to restrict results to articles that match specific criteria. In other words, only articles of a certain type will be displayed in the search results. These “limiters” can be useful when searching for research or review articles. PubMed has a limiter for article type, which is located on the left sidebar of the search results page. This limiter can filter the search results to show only review articles.

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How to Write a Peer Review

research article review paper

When you write a peer review for a manuscript, what should you include in your comments? What should you leave out? And how should the review be formatted?

This guide provides quick tips for writing and organizing your reviewer report.

Review Outline

Use an outline for your reviewer report so it’s easy for the editors and author to follow. This will also help you keep your comments organized.

Think about structuring your review like an inverted pyramid. Put the most important information at the top, followed by details and examples in the center, and any additional points at the very bottom.

research article review paper

Here’s how your outline might look:

1. Summary of the research and your overall impression

In your own words, summarize what the manuscript claims to report. This shows the editor how you interpreted the manuscript and will highlight any major differences in perspective between you and the other reviewers. Give an overview of the manuscript’s strengths and weaknesses. Think about this as your “take-home” message for the editors. End this section with your recommended course of action.

2. Discussion of specific areas for improvement

It’s helpful to divide this section into two parts: one for major issues and one for minor issues. Within each section, you can talk about the biggest issues first or go systematically figure-by-figure or claim-by-claim. Number each item so that your points are easy to follow (this will also make it easier for the authors to respond to each point). Refer to specific lines, pages, sections, or figure and table numbers so the authors (and editors) know exactly what you’re talking about.

Major vs. minor issues

What’s the difference between a major and minor issue? Major issues should consist of the essential points the authors need to address before the manuscript can proceed. Make sure you focus on what is  fundamental for the current study . In other words, it’s not helpful to recommend additional work that would be considered the “next step” in the study. Minor issues are still important but typically will not affect the overall conclusions of the manuscript. Here are some examples of what would might go in the “minor” category:

  • Missing references (but depending on what is missing, this could also be a major issue)
  • Technical clarifications (e.g., the authors should clarify how a reagent works)
  • Data presentation (e.g., the authors should present p-values differently)
  • Typos, spelling, grammar, and phrasing issues

3. Any other points

Confidential comments for the editors.

Some journals have a space for reviewers to enter confidential comments about the manuscript. Use this space to mention concerns about the submission that you’d want the editors to consider before sharing your feedback with the authors, such as concerns about ethical guidelines or language quality. Any serious issues should be raised directly and immediately with the journal as well.

This section is also where you will disclose any potentially competing interests, and mention whether you’re willing to look at a revised version of the manuscript.

Do not use this space to critique the manuscript, since comments entered here will not be passed along to the authors.  If you’re not sure what should go in the confidential comments, read the reviewer instructions or check with the journal first before submitting your review. If you are reviewing for a journal that does not offer a space for confidential comments, consider writing to the editorial office directly with your concerns.

Get this outline in a template

Giving Feedback

Giving feedback is hard. Giving effective feedback can be even more challenging. Remember that your ultimate goal is to discuss what the authors would need to do in order to qualify for publication. The point is not to nitpick every piece of the manuscript. Your focus should be on providing constructive and critical feedback that the authors can use to improve their study.

If you’ve ever had your own work reviewed, you already know that it’s not always easy to receive feedback. Follow the golden rule: Write the type of review you’d want to receive if you were the author. Even if you decide not to identify yourself in the review, you should write comments that you would be comfortable signing your name to.

In your comments, use phrases like “ the authors’ discussion of X” instead of “ your discussion of X .” This will depersonalize the feedback and keep the focus on the manuscript instead of the authors.

General guidelines for effective feedback

research article review paper

  • Justify your recommendation with concrete evidence and specific examples.
  • Be specific so the authors know what they need to do to improve.
  • Be thorough. This might be the only time you read the manuscript.
  • Be professional and respectful. The authors will be reading these comments too.
  • Remember to say what you liked about the manuscript!

research article review paper


  • Recommend additional experiments or  unnecessary elements that are out of scope for the study or for the journal criteria.
  • Tell the authors exactly how to revise their manuscript—you don’t need to do their work for them.
  • Use the review to promote your own research or hypotheses.
  • Focus on typos and grammar. If the manuscript needs significant editing for language and writing quality, just mention this in your comments.
  • Submit your review without proofreading it and checking everything one more time.

Before and After: Sample Reviewer Comments

Keeping in mind the guidelines above, how do you put your thoughts into words? Here are some sample “before” and “after” reviewer comments

✗ Before

“The authors appear to have no idea what they are talking about. I don’t think they have read any of the literature on this topic.”

✓ After

“The study fails to address how the findings relate to previous research in this area. The authors should rewrite their Introduction and Discussion to reference the related literature, especially recently published work such as Darwin et al.”

“The writing is so bad, it is practically unreadable. I could barely bring myself to finish it.”

“While the study appears to be sound, the language is unclear, making it difficult to follow. I advise the authors work with a writing coach or copyeditor to improve the flow and readability of the text.”

“It’s obvious that this type of experiment should have been included. I have no idea why the authors didn’t use it. This is a big mistake.”

“The authors are off to a good start, however, this study requires additional experiments, particularly [type of experiment]. Alternatively, the authors should include more information that clarifies and justifies their choice of methods.”

Suggested Language for Tricky Situations

You might find yourself in a situation where you’re not sure how to explain the problem or provide feedback in a constructive and respectful way. Here is some suggested language for common issues you might experience.

What you think : The manuscript is fatally flawed. What you could say: “The study does not appear to be sound” or “the authors have missed something crucial”.

What you think : You don’t completely understand the manuscript. What you could say : “The authors should clarify the following sections to avoid confusion…”

What you think : The technical details don’t make sense. What you could say : “The technical details should be expanded and clarified to ensure that readers understand exactly what the researchers studied.”

What you think: The writing is terrible. What you could say : “The authors should revise the language to improve readability.”

What you think : The authors have over-interpreted the findings. What you could say : “The authors aim to demonstrate [XYZ], however, the data does not fully support this conclusion. Specifically…”

What does a good review look like?

Check out the peer review examples at F1000 Research to see how other reviewers write up their reports and give constructive feedback to authors.

Time to Submit the Review!

Be sure you turn in your report on time. Need an extension? Tell the journal so that they know what to expect. If you need a lot of extra time, the journal might need to contact other reviewers or notify the author about the delay.

Tip: Building a relationship with an editor

You’ll be more likely to be asked to review again if you provide high-quality feedback and if you turn in the review on time. Especially if it’s your first review for a journal, it’s important to show that you are reliable. Prove yourself once and you’ll get asked to review again!

  • Getting started as a reviewer
  • Responding to an invitation
  • Reading a manuscript
  • Writing a peer review

The contents of the Peer Review Center are also available as a live, interactive training session, complete with slides, talking points, and activities. …

The contents of the Writing Center are also available as a live, interactive training session, complete with slides, talking points, and activities. …

There’s a lot to consider when deciding where to submit your work. Learn how to choose a journal that will help your study reach its audience, while reflecting your values as a researcher…

Article Review

Barbara P

Article Review - A Complete Writing Guide With Examples

Published on: Feb 17, 2020

Last updated on: Dec 19, 2022

Article Review

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An article review format is a scholarly way to analyze and evaluate the work of other experts in your specific field. Scholars or students mainly use it outside of the education system. But it's typically done for clarity, originality, and how well contributions from this expert have been made to their discipline.

When answering questions about what is an article review and how to write one, you must understand the type of analysis the instructor requires. Continue reading to get a detailed idea of writing a perfect article review in no time.

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What is an Article Review?

An article review is a writing piece that summarizes and assesses someone else's article. It entails understanding the central theme of the article, supporting arguments, and implications for further research.

A review has specific guidelines and format to write. It can be either a critical review or a literature review. A critical analysis deals with a specific type of text in detail, while a literature review is a broader kind of document.

Moreover, an article review is important because of the following reasons:

  • It helps to clarify questions.
  • It allows you to see other people’s thoughts and perspectives on current issues.
  • It helps you correct the language and sentence structure that does not make sense.
  • After reading different reviews, the writers can get out of personal biases.
  • It further improves the grammar and makes your writing skills better and clearer.
  • Lastly, it helps to provide suggestions or criticism on the article for future research.

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Types of Review

Below are the three main types of article reviews:

1. Journal Article Review

A journal article review is essentially a critique of an academic paper. Here, the author provides his thoughts on both strengths and weaknesses to demonstrate how it fits in with other work and what makes this publication stand out.

Check out the following example to help you understand better.

Example of Journal Article Review

2. Research Article Review

A research article review is different from a journal article review as it evaluates the research methods used in the study. It also compares them to other research studies.

Here is a sample for you to get an idea.

Example of Research Article Review

3. Science Article Review

Science article reviews involve publications in the realm of science. This type of research provides detailed background information so you can understand it in a better way.

Have a look at the below example.

Example of Science Article Review

Article Review Format

The format of your article must follow the citation style required by your professor. If you are not sure, ask him to clarify the following pointers about the preferred format. It will help you format an article review adequately.

  • What format is appropriate to cite your articles? (MLA, APA, ASA, Chicago, etc.)
  • What should be the length of the review?
  • Should it include a summary, critique, or personal opinion?
  • Does the professor require background information?
  • Does it require mentioning a central idea within the article?

After knowing the answers to these questions, you can start writing your article review. Here, we have mentioned the two most commonly used citation styles, APA and MLA.

1. APA Format

An article can appear in academic journals, newspapers, and websites. You need to write bibliographical entries for the sources you use when writing an APA format article review:

  • Web:  Author [last name], A.A [first and middle initial]. (Year, Month, Date of Publication). Title. Retrieved from {link}
  • Journal:  Author [last name], A.A [first and middle initial]. (Publication Year). Publication Title. Periodical Title, Volume(Issue), pp.-pp.
  • Newspaper:  Author [last name], A.A [first and middle initial]. (Year, Month, Date of Publication). Publication Title. Magazine Title, pp. Xx-xx.

2. MLA Format

Here is how you cite your sources in MLA format.

  • Web:  Last, First Middle Initial. “Publication Title.” Website Title. Website Publisher, Date Month Year Published. Web. Date Month Year Accessed.
  • Newspaper:  Last, First M. “Publication Title.” Newspaper Title [City] Date, Month, Year Published: Page(s). Print.
  • Journal:  Last, First M. “Publication Title.” Journal Title Series Volume. Issue (Year Published): Page(s). Database Name. Web. Date Month Year Accessed.

How to Write an Article Review?

Students often find writing an article review for the very first time daunting. Thus, it is best to start with a few preparatory steps.

The following is a complete step-by-step guide to write an effective article review in no time

1. The Pre-Writing Process

First, you need to know the type of review you are writing as it will help while reading an article. Here are some of the main stages of this process to help you get started.

  • Summarize the article by listing all the main points, ideas, insight observations, and general information presented in the article.
  • Identify the strong claims that the author has made.
  • Identify any possible contradictions and gaps in the article and evaluate if the writer has used sufficient arguments and findings to support the ideas.
  • Determine if there are any questions left unanswered by the author.
  • Read the article fully.
  • Evaluate the title, abstract, introduction, headings, subheadings, opening sentences, and conclusion of the article.

After this process, you can begin writing your own review.

2. Write the Title

First, write a title that reflects the main focus of your research work. It can be either interrogative, descriptive, or declarative.

3. Cite the Article

Next, add the citation for the article that you have reviewed. Consider the style of citation specified by your instructor. For example, if you were using MLA style, the citation would look like this:

Author’s last and first name. “The title of the article.” Journal’s title and issue(publication date): page(s). Print

Abraham John. “The World of Dreams.” Virginia Quarterly 60.2(1991): 125-67. Print.

4. Article Identification

After citing the article properly, include the identification of the reviewed article. All the information given below must be included in the first paragraph.

  • Title of the article
  • Title of the journal
  • Year of publication

For Example

The report, “Poverty increases school drop-outs,” was written by Brian Faith – a Health officer – in 2000.

5. Introduction

Before you start to write, you must organize your thoughts. You can use an article review template or outline of your assignment before you start. However, if you are wondering how to start an article review, always start with writing an introduction. It should contain the following things:

  • Thesis of your review
  • Summary of the key points of the article
  • Positive aspects and facts presented in the research study
  • Critique of the publication including contradictions, gaps, and unanswered questions

6. Summarize the Article

Write the summary of the article and discuss the central arguments presented by the author. Also, make a list of relevant facts and findings and include the author's conclusion.

7. Critique It

Here, state the author’s contribution and present the strengths and weaknesses that you have found in the article. Also, make a list of research gaps and see if the facts and theories support the arguments.

8. Draft a Conclusion

This section will sum up the critical points, findings, and your critique of the article. Here, the writer should also state the accuracy and validity of the review by presenting suggestions for future research work.

9. Revise and Proofread

The last step before submitting your article review is revising and proofreading. It is an essential part of the writing process, so make sure to do it right. For this, read the review aloud to identify any spelling, grammar, punctuation, and structure mistakes.

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Article Review Outline

After reading your article, organize your thoughts in an outline. Write down important facts or contributions to the field. Also, identify the weaknesses and strengths of your publication and start to discuss them accordingly.

If your professor doesn't want a summary section, then do not write one. Like other assignments, an article review must also contain an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. So divide your outline according to these sections and subheadings in the body.

If you find that you're having trouble with prewriting and brainstorming for this assignment, try looking for a sample outline. An outline for the article review must contain the below parts:

  • Pre-Title Page:  State the type of the article that you are reviewing, the title of the publication, authors who contributed to it, and author’s affiliations (position, department, institute, city, state, country, email ID)
  • Optional Corresponding Author Details:  Name, address, phone number, email, and fax number.
  • Running Head:  It is the title of your paper, less than 40 characters.
  • Summary Page:  It is an optional section, depending on the demands of your professor. This summary should be a maximum of 800 words long. Just use clear and to the point language and do not give references in this section. Instead, state the background information about why the work is done and summarize the results.
  • Title Page:  Full title, 250-word abstract followed by “Keywords:” and 4-6 keywords.
  • Introduction
  • Body:  Include headings and subheadings
  • Works Cited/References
  • Tables and Figures  (if instructed by the professor.)

Refer to the following template to understand outlining the article review in detail.

Article Review Format Template

Article Review Example

Here is a sample review paper for you to write your own perfectly on time.

Sample of Article Review

Law Article Review

Looking at relevant article review examples may be useful to you in the following ways:

  • To get you started reading academic works by experts in your field.
  • To assist you in identifying the key researchers working in a particular area of study.
  • To assist you in describing the significant discoveries and advances made in your field.
  • To assist you in uncovering the key shortcomings in your field's current knowledge—which may lead to innovative ideas.
  • To assist you in obtaining credible support and documentation for your own consideration.
  • To assist you in coming up with even more research subjects.
  • To assist you to learn more about the subject and developing into a specialist in your field.
  • To get a firm understanding of how to write an effective review.

You can learn a lot about an author's style and voice by reading selections from their work. As you can see, skimming a few samples may be really useful to you.

As a result, the best method to acquire experience writing this sort of paper is to look for an online article review example that matches your grade level.

Article Review Topics

Below you can find examples of topics for article review.

  • Communication differences between males and females
  • The importance of sport for students
  • Negative health effects caused by illegal drugs and substances
  • Use of drugs in professional sports
  • Obesity and its negative effects on health
  • Causes and treatment of infectious diseases
  • Gender roles and their change in the modern world
  • Gun violence in the USA
  • Street art tendencies in the USA
  • Illegal immigration in the USA

It is hard to write a good review because you need to find an article in a reliable source and read it. With this, you are also required to evaluate the information and think about any further limitations. Thus, the writer must have exceptional writing and analytical skills.

Therefore, if you are unsure about your skills, you can always get professional help online.  MyPerfectWords.com  is the  top essay writer service  that provides legit writing help at affordable rates. Our team of top writers can write papers of all types and for different academic levels and subject matters with perfection.

So, do not think much, and hire our  writing services  to get your review done within the given deadline.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of an article review.

The main purpose of writing a review is to create an informative synthesis of the best resources available in the literature for an important research question or current area of study.

How long should an article review be?

Article reviews vary in length. Narrative reviews range between 8,000 and 40,000 words. On the other hand, systematic reviews are usually shorter and less than 10,000 words.

Barbara P (Literature, Marketing)

Dr. Barbara is a highly experienced writer and author who holds a Ph.D. degree in public health from an Ivy League school. She has worked in the medical field for many years, conducting extensive research on various health topics. Her writing has been featured in several top-tier publications.

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How to write a good scientific review article


  • 1 The FEBS Journal Editorial Office, Cambridge, UK.
  • PMID: 35792782
  • DOI: 10.1111/febs.16565

Literature reviews are valuable resources for the scientific community. With research accelerating at an unprecedented speed in recent years and more and more original papers being published, review articles have become increasingly important as a means to keep up to date with developments in a particular area of research. A good review article provides readers with an in-depth understanding of a field and highlights key gaps and challenges to address with future research. Writing a review article also helps to expand the writer's knowledge of their specialist area and to develop their analytical and communication skills, amongst other benefits. Thus, the importance of building review-writing into a scientific career cannot be overstated. In this instalment of The FEBS Journal's Words of Advice series, I provide detailed guidance on planning and writing an informative and engaging literature review.

© 2022 Federation of European Biochemical Societies.

Publication types


Aspirations and accommodations for students with disability to equitably access higher education: a systematic scoping review.

  • 1 University of Malta, Malta
  • 2 Other, Malta
  • 3 Lancaster University, United Kingdom

The final, formatted version of the article will be published soon.

Several international conventions have recognized the importance of equal access to higher education on the basis of 'capacity'. However, inequalities persist for various groups. This paper presents a systematic scoping review of studies on the aspirations and access needs of students with disability, medical and mental health conditions to equitably participate in tertiary education. A search of ERIC, PsycINFO and Web of Science databases identified 133 relevant research articles from across the world covering the experiences of students with all types of disability. A thematic analysis identified three main themes and thirteen subthemes. Firstly, the findings showed that a crucial component of the student higher education experience was the development of their own self-identity, addressing stigma and enhancing self-advocacy skills, autonomy, and career prospects; secondly, the studies described how students struggled for full membership in the university community, calling for a transformation of university physical, social and teaching environments for them to access and participate in academic and social activities; and thirdly, the analysis showed that students valued individual accommodations in both coursework and assessment. These findings constitute a newly comprehensive framework for inclusive tertiary education systems and individual accommodations which is grounded in empirical research from a wide variety of contexts. This can serve higher education institutions to develop policy and procedures to ensure equitable participation of students with disability. *Lucas, R., Cage, E., and James, A. I. (2018a). Expectations of the university to post-graduation transition of students with mental health conditions. British Psychological Society.

Keywords: Disability, Mental Health, higher education, access, inclusion, Accommodations, Equity

Received: 06 May 2023; Accepted: 31 Oct 2023.

Copyright: © 2023 Bartolo, Borg, Callus, De Gaetano, Mangiafico, Mazzacano D’Amato, Sammut, Vella Vidal and Vincent. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) . The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Paul A. Bartolo, University of Malta, Msida, Malta

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Tomatoes: An Extensive Review of the Associated Health Impacts of Tomatoes and Factors That Can Affect Their Cultivation

Edward j. collins.

1 IBBS, School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth PO1 2DT, UK; ku.ca.tr[email protected] (E.J.C.); [email protected] (A.T.)

2 Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries, School of Art, Design and performance, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth PO1 2UP, UK; [email protected]

Cressida Bowyer

Audrey tsouza, mridula chopra, associated data.

Not applicable.

Simple Summary

The research outlined in this review paper discusses potential health benefits associated with a diet enriched with tomatoes and tomato products. This includes details of previous studies investigating the anticancer properties of tomatoes, protection against cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases and diabetes, maintenance of a healthy gut microbiome, and improved skin health, fertility, immune response, and exercise recovery. The specific parts of a tomato fruit that contribute these health benefits are also outlined. The potential disadvantages to a tomato-rich diet are detailed, especially the consumption of supplements that contain compounds found in tomatoes, such as lycopene. This review also discusses how the cultivation of tomato plants can affect the nutritional value of the fruit harvested. Different environmental growing conditions such as light intensity, growing media, and temperature are explained in terms of the impact they have on the quality of fruit, its nutrient content, and hence the potential health benefits acquired from eating the fruit.

This review outlines the health benefits associated with the regular consumption of tomatoes and tomato products. The first section provides a detailed account of the horticultural techniques that can impact the quality of the fruit and its nutritional properties, including water availability, light intensity, temperature, and growing media. The next section provides information on the components of tomato that are likely to contribute to its health effects. The review then details some of the health benefits associated with tomato consumption, including anticancer properties, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases and skin health. This review also discusses the impact tomatoes can have on the gut microbiome and associated health benefits, including reducing the risk of inflammatory bowel diseases. Other health benefits of eating tomatoes are also discussed in relation to effects on diabetes, the immune response, exercise recovery, and fertility. Finally, this review also addresses the negative effects that can occur as a result of overconsumption of tomato products and lycopene supplements.

1. Introduction

Tomatoes ( Solanum lycopersicum ) are a good source of phytochemicals and nutrients such as lycopene, potassium, iron, folate, and vitamin C [ 1 , 2 ]. Besides lycopene and vitamin C, tomatoes provide other antioxidants, such as beta-carotene, and phenolic compounds, such as flavonoids, hydroxycinnamic acid, chlorogenic, homovanillic acid, and ferulic acid [ 1 , 2 , 3 ].

Tomatoes can make an important contribution to a healthy diet and can be consumed raw or cooked while still maintaining their nutritive value [ 1 ]. Over 80% of all commercially grown tomatoes are consumed as processed products such as juice, soup, and ketchup [ 4 ]. A diet rich in tomatoes and tomato products is known to offer several health benefits and many of these benefits are attributed to their antioxidant content [ 1 , 5 , 6 ]. This review will discuss the impact of growing conditions on the tomato cultivar as well as their health-related properties.

The potential health benefits of tomatoes discussed in this review include anticancer properties of lycopene in relation to its anti-angiogenic properties, the reduction in insulin-like growth factor (IGF) in blood, and the modulation of cellular pathways that lead to cancer. Anticancer properties of other components of tomatoes, including its fibre, vitamin C, and phenolic constituent ferulic acid, have also been discussed. Tomatoes may also help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, with studies showing associations between tomato consumption and a reduction in hypertension and the risk of atherosclerosis. Observational and experimental studies highlighting neuroprotection and a role in diabetes-associated oxidative stress have been mentioned. The association between tomato consumption and skin health, in particular the protection against atopic dermatitis, is discussed. This is followed by the impact tomatoes have on the gut microbiome and how this may lead to a reduced risk of liver inflammatory disease and inflammatory bowel diseases. Further potential health benefits of tomatoes are then discussed, such as improved exercise recovery and decreased muscle damage after physical exertion, immune system modulation, and reduced risk of infertility.

2. Factors Affecting Tomato Crop Cultivation and Its Nutritional Value

Tomato cultivation is a major industry, and global production in 2018 was estimated at 182 million tons [ 7 ] in 2018, rising to 186 million tons in 2020 [ 8 ]. It is known that growing conditions such as water availability can impact the growth, metabolism, and yield of plants [ 9 ]. The key limiting factors to consider in crop growth are water availability, temperature, salinity, and contaminants [ 10 ]. Greenhouse systems allow control over many factors in tomato cultivation, including light intensity, temperature, and humidity [ 11 ].

Water availability affects plant growth, rate of photosynthesis, fruit production, and quality of tomato crop [ 11 , 12 ]. Due to this, the use of plant fertigation in combination with a drip irrigation system is becoming increasingly common in tomato cultivation [ 13 ]. These systems are beneficial not only for the regular and reliable watering of tomatoes but also for the application of a controlled dosage of fertiliser added at regulated times in the growth stage [ 13 ].

A 2010 study focusing on the effects of drought in tomato plants grew five varieties of cherry tomato plants—Kosaco, Josefina, Katalina, Salome, and Zarina—and subjected them to 50% of a standard watering regime compared to a control with 100% [ 12 ]. This study found that the Zarina cultivar was the most tolerant to stress, showing greater biomass, leaf relative water content, relative growth rate, and a higher antioxidant activity [ 12 ]. The authors concluded that tomato plants show genotypic differences to oxidative stress caused by drought and suggested that the Zarina cultivar be used in any studies aiming to improve the growth of drought-tolerant plants [ 12 ]. It is, however, worth noting that drought- and heat-induced stress reduces the growth and yield of tomato crops but increases their carotenoid content and antioxidant enzyme activity, likely due to raised oxidative stress induced by such conditions [ 14 ].

It has been reported that the rate of plant photosynthesis can be impacted by drought [ 15 ]. The stress created by drought may cause an energy imbalance in which the energy absorbed through photosynthesising complexes is more than photosystem II can dissipate [ 16 ]. It has been suggested that this excess energy is dissipated in cells by the conversion of O 2 into reactive oxygen species (ROS), resulting in plants synthesising antioxidants such as superoxide dismutase [ 17 , 18 , 19 ].

The accumulation of antioxidants and phytochemicals in tomato fruit is also heavily impacted by the environmental conditions (light intensity, water availability, temperature, growing media salinity) that the fruit is grown in [ 20 ]. A 2009 trial compared tomatoes grown in Ireland with tomatoes grown in Spain to investigate if geographical location impacts carotenoid content in four different tomato types (cherry, plum, round, and on the vine) [ 21 ]. The authors concluded that the geographical location rather than the type of tomato had a bigger impact on the bioaccessibility (bioavailability after consumption of tomatoes) of carotenoids in the fruit [ 21 ]. The bioaccessibility of carotenoids such as lycopene is an important factor for the health benefits gained by eating this fruit.

Vitamin C content in fresh tomatoes increases to a maximum and then decreases during the ripening process [ 22 ]. It was reported by Abushita et al. that salad tomatoes grown in field conditions contained 15–21 mg/100 g fresh weight (FW) of vitamin C compared to a range of industrial grades of tomatoes with an average vitamin C value of 19 mg/100 g FW [ 23 ]. As vitamin C has been linked to immune modulation [ 24 ], this implies that the growing conditions of tomato fruit could impact the immune benefits associated with it.

Another factor to consider in the cultivation of tomatoes is the temperature. Higher temperatures are known to affect photosynthesis as they can cause damage to the photosynthetic apparatus, leading to the inhibition of photosystem II [ 25 , 26 ]. It has also been reported that high temperatures reduce photosynthesis through the inhibition of the ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase in the Calvin cycle, leading to an inactivation of carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) fixation [ 27 ]. A 2005 study focussed on the effects of high temperatures in tomato cultivation; researchers exposed a group of Campbell-28 variety plants to heat shock treatment of 45 °C for 2 h and measured gas exchange, chlorophyll fluorescence, and electrolyte leakage [ 25 ]. This study concluded that the heat shock treatment resulted in reductions in the net photosynthetic rate of the plants due to changes in the Calvin cycle and in photosystem II functioning [ 25 ].

Temperature impacts the distribution of photoassimilates (biological compounds formed by assimilation using light-dependent reactions) between the fruit and the rest of the tomato plant [ 28 ]. At higher temperatures, photoassimilate accumulation in fruits is increased, impacting vegetative growth of the tomato plant [ 21 , 29 ]. The temperature of the growing environment also affects water distribution in the plant, the cellular structures affecting the quality of the fruit (such as size and colour), and fruit development [ 21 , 30 , 31 ].

The type and number of phenolic compounds found in tomato fruit are known to vary greatly with plant genotype, fruit storage, and light intensity during cultivation [ 8 , 32 ]. A 2006 study grew two tomato cultivars under two different conditions: one designed to transmit ambient solar UV radiation in the range 290–400 nm, the other designed to block UV radiation below 380 nm [ 33 ]. The phenolic content of these tomatoes was tested using high-pressure liquid chromatography and a colorimetric Folin–Ciocalteu assay, and the results indicated that the higher wavelength and intensity of UV radiation exposure of the tomato plants during cultivation significantly increased the phenolic levels of the fruit level [ 33 ], which are beneficial to health.

The growing media used for tomato cultivation is also known to impact the growth and health of the plants and the resulting fruit. In tomato greenhouse production, soilless cultivation systems are in place using solid substrates [ 34 ] such as peat, bark, rockwool, synthetic foams, and perlite [ 35 ]. Sphagnum peat moss, harvested from wetland ecosystems, is a common growing medium in horticulture due to its high nutrient exchange capacity [ 36 ].

The physical properties of the substrates, such as pore size, tortuosity, and continuity, are determined by substrate particle size and shape and can affect the availability of water and air [ 37 ]. A study in 2004 tested seven substrates in greenhouse tomato cultivation: rockwool, fresh spruce sawdust, spruce wood shaving, composted spruce bark, fine blond peat, and mixtures of 66% fine blond peat +33% composted spruce bark and 33% fine blond peat +66% composted spruce bark [ 37 ]. Substrate performance was assessed according to water retention, hydraulic conductivity, pore tortuosity, and gas diffusivity [ 37 ]. While the physical properties of these substrates varied greatly, yield was not related to these properties, and if irrigation is adjusted for the physical properties of each substrate, then all tested substrates can be utilised for tomato greenhouse cultivation [ 37 ].

A study carried out in 2017 investigated three different growing media—rockwool, coconut coir, and peat–vermiculite to understand how they affected tomato plant growth, fruit yield, and quality [ 38 ]. Tomato plants grown with coconut coir had an increased photosynthesis rate, individual fruit weight, and total fruit yield [ 39 ]. This study observed that coconut coir significantly increased potassium and sulphur uptake compared to tomato plants grown on rockwool, and an increased phosphorus and sulphur uptake compared to peat–vermiculite growing media [ 38 ].

A 2015 study assessed the impact of growing media on the nutritional quality of tomato fruit by growing tomato plants with a compost prepared using effective microorganisms (EM)—a combination of microbial inoculants that stimulate plant growth [ 39 ]. The authors showed that the EM supplement not only improved plant growth and fruit yield but also lycopene content, antioxidant activity, and defence enzyme activity compared to the control [ 39 ].

A 2021 study compared soil-based growing media with hydroponic growing systems using rockwool with either drip-feed irrigation or deep-water culture for the cultivation of tomato plants [ 40 ]. This study observed that tomato plants grown with the two hydroponic systems were more water efficient and had a lower transpiration rate, requiring less water than tomato plants grown in soil [ 39 ]. It was also observed that the total lycopene and β-carotene fruit content was highest in the deep-water culture system [ 40 ].

In a 2020 study, 20 tomato varieties grown in medium and high levels of soil salinity were examined for their lycopene, vitamin C, total phenolic content, and total antioxidant capacity, and it was reported that tomato plants with a tolerance to higher soil salinities produce fruit with increased levels of antioxidants, such as phenolic compounds, and carotenoids, such as lycopene [ 41 ]. This suggests that the salinity of tomato plant growing media can directly impact the nutritional quality associated with the fruit, and hence the health benefits associated with this fruit.

It should be noted that inorganic substrates such as rockwool and perlite require large amounts of energy to manufacture and are not biodegradable, making them less sustainable than other substrates [ 34 ]. Peat is another substrate known to be unsustainable when utilised for crop cultivation [ 42 ]. The harvesting of peat has negative effects on wetland ecosystems, including the loss of peat bogs, which have a major role as carbon sinks [ 43 ]. Research is currently focused on the use of sustainable substrates such as wood fibres, bark, or recycled waste products from industries for the sustainable cultivation of tomatoes and other crops [ 42 , 44 , 45 , 46 , 47 ].

A sustainable growing media amendment under investigation is chitin and chitosan, which are waste products of the shellfish industry [ 48 ]. Studies have been carried out assessing the potential benefits these waste products have on the production of various crops [ 49 , 50 , 51 , 52 , 53 ]. A 2004 study observed an approximate 20% increase in yield for two out of three tomato trials with chitosan applied to soils and leaves as 2.5–5 mL/L solutions [ 53 ]. In all three tomato trials chitosan application resulted in significant control of powdery mildew, a fungi which weakens a plant and causes fruit to prematurely ripen [ 53 ].

It is common practice for tomatoes to be harvested at the mature green stage for ripening in transit [ 54 ], and this can impact the levels of antioxidants such as lycopene, which are synthesised during ripening [ 21 ]. However, unlike carotenoids such as lycopene and β-carotene, the vitamin C levels of tomatoes are reported to be lower in tomatoes picked at the fully ripened stage compared to those picked at the mature green stage and ripened off the vine [ 55 ].

In summary, the antioxidant and phytochemical content of tomatoes can be influenced by environmental conditions, including light intensity, water availability, temperature, and growing media as well as the ripeness stage, and all this can have an impact on their potential health effects.

3. Tomato Constituents for Health

Tomato fruit is a fleshy berry of varying sizes and colours [ 56 ]. The fruit is composed mostly of water (>90%), with very little protein or fat, and around 3% carbohydrates (glucose and fructose) [ 56 ]. The nutrients obtained from an average round tomato and how these relate to the recommended daily intakes per person is described in Figure 1 . Tomato fruit has a pericarp, which includes an outer layer of exocarp and inner layers of mesocarp and endocarp [ 57 ]. The fruit exocarp (epidermis) consists of a thin cuticle with no stomata, the phenolic content of which increases during fruit growth [ 57 , 58 ]. Tomato cuticle is mostly composed of a lipid polymer known as cutin, and waxes, which are complex and variable [ 59 ]. The mesocarp contains fruit vascular tissue connected to pedicel vascular tissue [ 57 ]. Vascular tissue is located in the centre of tomato fruit, supplying seeds with necessary water and minerals, and is also parallel to the fruit surface [ 57 ]. Within the unicellular endocarp boundary are seed-containing cavities derived from carpels, known as locules [ 57 , 60 ]. The number of locules within a fruit can vary, changing the size and shape of the fruit [ 60 ]. Locules are divided by a septum, with seeds bound to an elongated axial placenta [ 61 ]. Tomato seeds are known to contain steroidal saponins called lycoperosides, particularly lycoperoside H, which are believed to exert anti-inflammatory effects [ 62 , 63 ].

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Infographic representing the nutrients obtained from an average round tomato and how these relate to the daily recommended intakes [ 68 , 69 ].

A study carried out by Moretti et al. analysed the chemical composition of different sections of tomatoes [ 64 ]. It was observed that vitamin C content is highest in the locule tissue (228.90 ± 5.44 mg/kg) compared to the pericarp tissue (194.90 ± 2.13 mg/kg) [ 64 ]. This study also found both total carotenoid and total chlorophyll levels to be higher in pericarp (108.03 ± 2.22 mg/kg and 0.40 ± 0.03 mg/kg, respectively) than locule tissue (87.84 ± 2.23 mg/kg and 0.33 ± 0.06 mg/kg, respectively) [ 64 ]. The presence of oxalic acid in tomatoes has been linked to renal disease, especially renal stones; however, it is worth noting that the oxalic acid content of tomatoes is reported to be between 5–11 mg per 100 g FW [ 65 ]. The oxalic acid content is suggested to increase with the ripeness of the fruit [ 66 ], and one of the suggested mechanisms for this increase is due to the conversion of ascorbic acid to oxalic acid as the fruit ripens. Cooking tomatoes, especially boiling fresh tomatoes, has been suggested to reduce their oxalic acid content [ 67 ].

The health-beneficial properties of tomatoes are studied the most in relation to their role in cancer prevention. Not only cancer but several other age-related diseases such as cardiovascular, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s as well as skin health, fertility, and exercise recovery can be influenced by constituents of tomatoes. There are several reviews that have addressed anticancer and cardioprotective properties of tomatoes but most of them focused these effects on the lycopene constituent. Tomatoes have a range of other nutrients that could confer their biological properties, as shown in Table 1 . The aim of this review is to provide comprehensive literature on the health-related properties of tomatoes that can be attributed not just to lycopene but also to their other constituents.

( a ) Carotenoids and glycoalkaloids found in tomato ripe fruits. ( b ) Vitamins and polyphenols found in tomato ripe fruits.

4. Health Effects

4.1. tomatoes and cancer pathology.

Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for nearly 10 million deaths in 2020 [ 142 ]. Schwingshackl et al. discussed the effects of a tomato-rich Mediterranean diet on the risk of overall cancer mortality [ 143 ]. This paper observed that, in a clinical trial, a Mediterranean diet was found to reduce cancer incidence by 61% and also stated that a “healthy diet” can prevent approximately 30% of cancers [ 143 ]. A review by Farinetti et al. studied the benefits of the Mediterranean diet on colorectal cancer, with lycopene in particular as an important component of this diet, including polyphenols from olive oil and red wine resveratrol, which act to inhibit molecular cancer pathways in vitro [ 119 ]. The health benefits from tomatoes are enhanced as part of the Mediterranean diet as lycopene is more readily absorbed in the intestines when it has been dissolved in olive oil and heated [ 119 ].

Lycopene and β-carotene are two important carotenoids found in tomatoes and both have been suggested to confer the anticancer properties of the fruit. Lycopene, a red pigment found in tomatoes and tomato products, has antioxidant and free radical scavenging activity, and is known to be the most effective singlet oxygen quencher among the natural carotenoids [ 5 , 95 , 144 ]. The human body absorbs a significant proportion (23–24%) of ingested lycopene that proceeds to circulate and accumulate in blood plasma, liver, and other tissues with a half-life of 12–33 days [ 145 ]. Among the various plausible beneficial effects of lycopene, its anticancer properties have been studied the most. These suggestions initially stemmed from epidemiological [ 146 , 147 , 148 , 149 ] studies and were later supported by several experimental studies [ 77 , 78 , 150 , 151 , 152 , 153 , 154 , 155 , 156 , 157 , 158 ]. Various anticancer mechanisms of lycopene include the modulation of gene functions and apoptosis, increasing gap junction communications, anti-angiogenic effects [ 146 , 150 , 159 ], and antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-lipid peroxidation activities [ 160 , 161 , 162 , 163 ].

Due to their antioxidant properties, lycopene and other carotenoids are suggested to protect against carcinogenesis by preventing oxidative damage in DNA and proteins through antioxidant mechanisms [ 164 ]. It has been observed that the cleavage of lycopene via in vitro oxidation at random conjugated double bonds in the molecule forms monocarbonyl compounds [ 151 , 165 ]. Zhang et al. [ 151 ] showed that the products of lycopene oxidation can induce apoptosis in cancer cells. This was further investigated by Arathi et al. [ 152 ] who extracted and autoxidised lycopene from ripened tomatoes and used the products in in vitro cell culture assays to assess the toxicity and apoptosis-inducing ability in various cancer cells. This study found that there were several unknown metabolites or oxidation products of lycopene that may be involved in the inhibition of cancer cell proliferation through modulating cell cycle progression [ 152 ]. This study also demonstrated that chemically induced lycopene oxidation products were a key component in the induction of apoptosis in cancer cells [ 152 ].

A review published in 2020 by Przybylska discussed the anticancer properties of lycopene, particularly in prostate cancer [ 153 ]. This paper evaluated lycopene’s effects on prostate cancer, discussed in later sections of this review, as well as breast cancer, the second most prevalent cancer in the world [ 153 ]. Przybylska states that lycopene consumption can reduce the blood concentration of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) via the stimulation of synthesis of a protein that binds IGF-1 [ 153 ]. It has been shown that IGF-1 is an important factor in the development of breast cancer in pre-menopausal women, and therefore lycopene’s reduction in this growth factor may reduce the risk of this cancer [ 154 ]. This paper further discusses how lycopene inhibits the proliferation of oestrogen-dependent/-independent cancer cells through multiple mechanisms, including inhibiting the activation of genes responsible for the cell cycle or protein-1-responsive genes [ 153 , 166 ].

Another 2020 paper by Saini et al. reviewed the anticancer properties of lycopene [ 78 ] and concluded that the antioxidant abilities of lycopene via a reduction in ROS in cells play a key role in the anticancer properties of this carotenoid.

The phosphoinositide 3-kinase/protein kinase B (PI3K/AKT) pathway has been of interest in cancer biology for decades [ 155 ]. Mutations or aberrations to this pathway are found in many cancers, and the inhibition of PI3K presents a therapeutic target for a range of tumour types [ 156 ]. AKT is known to promote cell growth and survival and is further upregulated in breast, prostate, and other forms of cancer [ 156 ]. AKT plays a part in tumour-induced angiogenesis as AKT is activated downstream of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), promoting cell growth and angiogenesis, which is critical for the survival of tumour cells [ 155 , 159 ].

A study by Tang et al. [ 157 ] investigated the inhibitory effects of lycopene on the AKT signalling pathway in HT-29 human colon cancer cells [ 157 ]. It was observed that the proliferation of HT-29 colon cancer cells was inhibited by lycopene in a dose-dependent manner. This study concluded that lycopene treatments may inhibit the PI3K–AKT pathway and further demonstrated the involvement of this pathway in tumour development [ 157 ].

Downstream signalling through the PI3K–AKT pathway increases the expression of transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) which upregulates the expression of VEGF [ 155 ]. Therefore, it can be speculated that the suppression of this pathway could prevent tumour development [ 167 , 168 ].

VEGF is also the fundamental regulator in cellular signalling of angiogenesis, which supplies tumour cells with blood supply [ 169 ]. Two studies using human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) demonstrated anti-angiogenic effects of lycopene, and one of these studies showed that lycopene also inhibited angiogenesis in freshly dissected rat aorta cells at physiologically relevant concentrations of 1–2 μmol/L [ 159 ]. In another study, lycopene was shown to inhibit angiogenesis both in vitro and in vivo by inhibiting the MMP-2/uPA system through VEGFR2-mediated PI3K–AKT and ERK/p38 signalling pathways [ 168 ]. A prospective study highlighted that angiogenic potential, a biomarker of lethal cancer, was lower in individuals who had been consuming tomato products for a longer period of time [ 169 ].

The PI3K–AKT pathway also activates oncogenic signalling pathways via the transcription factor nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NF-κB) and Wnt/β-catenin [ 169 ]. NF-κB influences cell growth, proliferation, and metabolism [ 170 ] and is known to play a key role in the development of cancers [ 171 ]. NF-κB dimers are pro-survival transcription factors and are usually cytoplasmic due to interactions with the inhibitors of kappa B (IkBs); they therefore remain transcriptionally inactive [ 171 , 172 ]. NF-κB activation may result from different signalling pathways triggered by a variety of cytokines, or growth factors, and involves the phosphorylation and proteasome-dependent degradation of IkBs [ 171 , 173 ]. NF-κB activation leads to nuclear translocation followed by the transcription of target genes involved in the oncogenic pathway [ 171 ].

NF-κB is known to be active in several tumour cell types, including leukaemia, breast, and prostate [ 174 ]. A study by Assar et al. [ 77 ] studied the effects that dietary lycopene would have on several points along this oncogenic pathway. This experiment examined the effects in two human cancer cell lines, prostate (PC3) and breast (MDA-MB-231), in the absence and presence of lycopene at concentrations of 0.5–5 µM [ 77 ]. This study not only conducted MTS (3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-5-(3-carboxymethoxyphenyl)-2-4-sulfophenyl)-2H-tetrazolium) cell growth assay and Western blots but also NF-κB-responsive gene activation reporter assays to monitor the pathway’s activity in real-time [ 77 ]. This study concluded that lycopene inhibits the NF-κB pathway at different stages for both breast and prostate cancer cells in vitro [ 78 ]. NF-κB and the Wnt/β-catenin signalling pathways cross-regulate each other’s activities and functions.

The Wnt/β-catenin signalling pathway is involved in cell proliferation and can lead to cancer development [ 172 ]. This pathway is upregulated by inflammation and oxidative stress, which can lead to a variety of cancers [ 150 ]. Therefore, it can be suggested that a reduction in ROS caused by lycopene or other antioxidants found in tomatoes leads to the inhibition of Wnt/β-catenin signalling. The Wnt/β-catenin signalling pathway is associated with colorectal cancer [ 169 ]. A 2019 study by Kim et al. [ 150 ] explored the mechanism by which lycopene can influence cancer cell growth through the induction of apoptosis in human gastric cancer AGS cells. Various apoptotic indices such as cell viability, DNA fragmentation, and ROS concentrations were examined in the gastric cancer cells [ 150 ], and the authors concluded that lycopene at 0.3% final concentration led to the induction of apoptosis by inhibiting Wnt/β-catenin signalling, stopping the nuclear translocation of β-catenin and suppressing the expression of specific cell survival genes.

Furthermore, a study by Preet et al. [ 158 ] tested the effect of lycopene on human breast cancer cell lines by measuring protein compounds associated with the Wnt/β-catenin signalling pathway and cancer cell viability. Preet et al. [ 158 ] showed that lycopene treatment in combination with quinacrine (a derivative of the naturally occurring compound quinine) inhibited the proliferation of breast cancer cells. It was concluded that the reduced proliferation of the breast cancer cells was a result of the inhibition of the Wnt/β-catenin signalling pathway [ 158 ].

Lycopene is the key antioxidant found in tomatoes and is the focus of many cancer studies. However, tomatoes also contain β-carotene. β-Carotene is a provitamin and is converted into retinol—a compound needed for vision [ 9 ]; it has been the focus of many studies that conclude that it is associated with anticancer activities, including inducing cancer cell apoptosis and reducing cancer cell proliferation [ 174 , 175 ]. Tomatoes also contain a diverse array of other potentially chemo-preventive compounds that are not the primary focus of current research, including vitamins and phenolic constituents [ 176 ].

For example, vitamin C is thought to reduce the risk of stomach carcinogenesis by controlling levels of ROS that can lead to DNA damage, or by stopping the development of carcinogenic nitrosamines introduced as part of the diet [ 133 , 177 ]. The effectiveness of vitamin C as an anticancer agent was debated until a 2011 study investigated the impacts of vitamin C on the human body, which concluded that, when ingested, vitamin C blood concentrations are highly controlled by renal reabsorption [ 178 ]. It was concluded that at a pharmacological dose administered intravenously, the blood plasma levels of this nutrient can be raised to 25–30 mmol/L, a concentration that has been shown to be cytotoxic to cancer cells [ 178 ].

Ferulic acid, a phenolic acid found in tomatoes, is an effective antioxidant and is suggested to have anticancer properties [ 112 , 113 ]. One study investigated the effects of 24 h treatment of Caco-2 colon cancer cells with 150 µmol/L ferulic acid and found that 517 genes were significantly affected [ 114 ]. The treatment delayed cell cycle progression in the S phase via the upregulation of genes involved in centrosome assembly and the S phase checkpoint [ 114 ].

Tomato peel and seeds are composed of 60% dietary fibre [ 179 ]. When fibre is metabolised by intestinal microbiota to form short-chain fatty acids such as butyric and acetic acids, cancerous colonocytes cannot use these components as a source of energy and they accumulate, inhibiting the action of histone deacetylases in these cells [ 180 , 181 ]. As a result, the epigenetic regulation of gene expression in these cells is changed, reducing cell proliferation and increasing apoptosis [ 181 ].

It can be concluded that a tomato-rich diet could increase human blood lycopene levels, and this has many potential anticancer properties ( Table 2 ). However, some healthcare professionals argue that lycopene may not be the only cancer lowering constituent of tomatoes, and perhaps it is a biomarker of tomatoes that, due to an array of constituents, confer anticancer properties [ 78 , 182 ].

Main findings of the effect of tomato compounds on cancers.

4.2. Tomato’s Specific Influence on Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer found in men worldwide [ 183 , 184 ]. A study by Giovannucci et al. [ 185 ] investigated dietary carotenoids and prostate cancer risk. Questionnaires were used to find trends between diet and the risk of prostate cancer, and it was found that the only carotenoid associated with a decreased risk of prostate cancer was lycopene [ 185 ]. Of the four tomato-based items high in lycopene that were listed (tomato sauce, tomatoes, tomato juice, and pizza), all except tomato juice were associated with a significantly lower risk of prostate cancer [ 185 ]. More recently, a 2018 review by Rowles et al. compared the results from 30 different articles discussing tomato consumption and prostate cancer [ 183 ]. This review concluded that there was a significant inverse association between tomato consumption and the risk of prostate cancer [ 183 ].

In tomato-rich diets, lycopene is one of the most abundant carotenoids found to be accumulated in blood and tissues, reaching plasma concentrations of up to 1.8 µmol/L [ 184 , 186 ]. Lycopene has been shown to accumulate in several tissues, including the liver and the prostate [ 76 , 184 ]. A review by Rao and Agarwal in 1999 compared lycopene accumulation in major organs and found that the prostate accumulated 0.8 nmol lycopene/g tissue, the adrenal glands 1.9–21.60 nmol/g, and the testes 4.34–21.36 nmol/g [ 5 ].

In 2002, a study was conducted on 60 men with adenocarcinoma of the prostate (clinical stages T1 or T2) in which their diet was supplemented with lycopene-rich pasta sauces and other meals rich in lycopene for a three-week period [ 187 ]. Blood samples showed increased serum lycopene, from baseline 0.638 μM to 1.258 μM, and increased prostate lycopene, from 0.279 nmol/g tissue prior to the trial to 0.82 ± 0.119 nmol/g after the intervention [ 187 ]. However, this study does conclude that the impact of this uptake of lycopene on prostate cells needs further research [ 187 ].

The level of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in the human body is associated with prostate cancer due to the mitogenic and antiapoptotic effects on prostate epithelial cells [ 188 , 189 , 190 ]. Diet is known to influence the level of IGF-1 in the human body [ 189 , 190 ]. Diets primarily containing red meats and dairy products were shown to increase the levels of IGF-1, whereas diets containing high amounts of fruits and vegetables, particularly tomato-containing products, were found to associate with lower levels of IGF-1 [ 189 , 190 , 191 ]. However, studies by Chan [ 192 ] and Graydon [ 193 ] found that lycopene supplementation had no significant effect on the IGF-1 levels of male subjects with and without prostate cancer.

In 2019, Applegate, Rowles, and Erdman carried out a systematic review on the impact lycopene has on prostate cancer [ 194 ]. This was focused on androgen activity, which is associated with prostate cancer growth as androgen-regulated, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is higher in serum samples taken from men diagnosed with prostate cancer [ 194 , 195 , 196 ]. The review suggested that lycopene reduced androgen metabolism and signalling, one of the main factors influencing prostate cancer growth and progression [ 194 ].

Obermüller-Jevic et al. [ 197 ] observed that human prostate epithelial cells treated with 5 μmol/L lycopene showed no expression of cyclin D1. A similar effect on cell growth inhibition was observed in human breast and endometrial cancer cell lines with lycopene. Cyclin D1 is a regulatory subunit of cyclin-dependent kinases CDK4 and CDK 6, which allows cells to transit from the G1 phase of the cell cycle to the S phase and is synthesised in the G1 phase that accumulates in the nucleus [ 197 , 198 , 199 , 200 ]. Wertz et al. [ 198 ] provided a detailed review of the mode of action of lycopene and highlighted that the inhibition of cell growth by lycopene involves the downregulation of cyclin D1, but not of cyclin E, and leads to cell cycle arrest at the G0/G1 phase. In the absence of functioning cyclin D1 in the G1 phase, cell cycle progression is halted, and the cell proliferation rate is reduced [ 199 ].

Gap junctions are intracellular channels formed by connexin proteins, joining cells and allowing the passage of nutrients and intracellular signalling molecules [ 201 ]. In a healthy prostate, basal cells use connexin 43 gap junctions in communication, and luminal cells use connexin 32 gap junctions [ 201 ]. It has been reported that in differentiated prostate cancer there is decreased expression of both channels [ 201 ]. Overall, lycopene treatments have shown an upregulation of connexin 43 expression and enhanced the gap junction channel communication in mouse fibroblast cells and prostate gland cells [ 198 ]. Through the upregulation of connexin 43 and an increased gap junction channel communication, lycopene inhibits carcinogen-induced neoplastic transformation in cell culture [ 198 , 201 ].

This review details the potential anticancer properties associated with the consumption of tomatoes. Most research focuses on lycopene as the primary anticancer agent in tomatoes ( Table 2 ). Lycopene is also the focus of many published reviews that do not discuss other naturally occurring tomato compounds with anticancer associations [ 77 , 152 , 202 ]. This review, however, details not only the anticancer properties of lycopene but also vitamin C, β-carotene, ferulic acid, and the dietary fibre incorporated in tomato tissues. This highlights the importance of how the suggested anticancer properties associated with tomatoes may not derive solely from lycopene but from a combination of anticancer compounds naturally occurring in this fruit.

4.3. Cardioprotective Effects of Tomatoes

A tomato-rich diet has been linked to a reduction in the risk of heart disease. Song et al. reviewed 14 eligible studies and found a significant inverse association between lycopene intake and coronary heart disease [ 204 ]. Another meta-analysis reviewed 25 studies and reported that high lycopene consumption and lycopene serum concentrations reduced the overall mortality by 37%, cardiovascular disease by 14%, and stroke by 23% [ 205 ].

A randomised, cross-over controlled trial in healthy participants examined the effect of a single dose of raw tomatoes, tomato sauce, or tomato sauce plus refined olive oil on biomarkers of cardiovascular disease [ 206 ]. The results showed all three interventions reduced plasma cholesterol and triglycerides and raised plasma high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and interleukin-10 concentrations. Tomato sauce plus olive oil produced the maximum effect, likely due to the increased bioavailability of lycopene as oil is known to improve this. The authors indicated that including tomatoes as a regular part of a diet may help to prevent postprandial lipemia by reducing blood triglyceride levels, and in doing so, reduce the risk of developing atherosclerosis [ 206 ]. An increase in triglyceride levels can lead to the production of small, dense low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which is highly atherogenic [ 207 , 208 ]. It is worth noting that the fat-soluble pigment lycopene is released from tomato cell wall protein–carotenoid complexes during food preparation, therefore the bioavailability of lycopene is higher with cooked tomatoes and tomato products such as juices and sauces than fresh tomatoes, and daily consumption of such tomato products significantly reduces blood LDL cholesterol levels in adults [ 209 ]. In a recent cross-over study, feeding of tomato sauce from vine-ripened tomatoes at 150 mL/day for 6 weeks was compared with sterol-enriched yoghurt and both interventions reduced LDL cholesterol by 12% and 15%, respectively [ 210 ].

Heart disease is a collective term that includes hypertension and atherosclerosis. Hypertension is one of the most common chronic diseases worldwide, with accompanying risks including cardiovascular disease (CVD) and kidney disease [ 6 ]. In a study conducted by Engelhard et al. [ 211 ], patients with grade-1 hypertension were found to have significantly lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure after short-term treatment with 250 mg tomato extract Lyc-O-Mato. In a double-blind placebo study of grade-1 hypertension patients, both systolic and diastolic blood pressure were significantly lower after treatment with tomato extracts [ 211 ]. 𝛾-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter present in the sympathetic nervous system, is known to lower systolic blood pressure [ 212 , 213 ], and tomatoes have been shown to contain high levels of GABA [ 214 ]. GABA has been reported to lower the blood pressure of hypertensive patients but not of normotensive individuals [ 168 ]. Daily supplementation of 80 mg of GABA has been found to reduce blood pressure in adults with mild hypertension [ 215 ]. A study carried out in 2008 analysed tomato varieties and found that they had an average GABA content of 50.3 mg/100 g fresh weight [ 216 ].

Many of the antioxidants found in tomatoes, including lycopene, beta-carotene, and vitamin C, protect vascular cells and lipoproteins from oxidation and thus prevent the formation of atherosclerosis [ 134 , 217 ]. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation is a well-known factor in genesis [ 218 ] and the progression of atherosclerosis, a process that leads to the narrowing of arteries due to a build-up of cholesterol in subendothelial space. Oxidised LDL is believed to be important in the formation of atherosclerosis and, therefore, vascular diseases. Oxidised LDL increases the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which promote the adhesion of white blood cells to the blood vessel wall [ 219 ]. This can lead to the transmigration of the adhered cells into the innermost layer of the vessel where they are transformed into macrophages, which rapidly accumulate oxidised LDL [ 219 ]. These cells are often the origin of atherosclerotic lesions, which form in artery walls and potentially lead to coronary heart disease and heart attacks [ 134 , 219 ]. Chopra et al. found that increased intake of fruits and vegetables, especially red coloured ones, improves the ex vivo resistance of LDL to oxidation [ 220 ]. In another human study, a 3-week low-tomato diet followed by a 3-week high-tomato diet (400 mL tomato juice and 30 mg tomato ketchup daily) led to a reduction in LDL cholesterol levels and increased ex vivo resistance of LDL to oxidation in normocholesterolaemic participants [ 209 ]. Interestingly, a study conducted in 2000 showed that the regular intake of tomato juice is associated with an increase in blood vitamin E levels [ 134 ]. Lycopene and beta-carotene are known to more effectively inhibit LDL oxidation in the presence of vitamin E [ 134 , 209 , 219 ].

Blood platelets respond to vascular damage by binding to the subendothelial matrix, eventually leading to atherosclerotic lesions, thrombus formation, and vascular events. Platelets are therefore considered as the driving force to myocardial infarction and ischaemic stroke [ 221 , 222 , 223 ]. Tomatoes have been shown to have platelet anti-aggregatory properties. In a double-blind, randomised trial, the dietary supplementation of adults 40–70 years old, these being healthy individuals, with tomato extract was shown to reduce ex vivo platelet aggregation induced by both ADP and collagen [ 224 ]. Although initially carotenoids lycopene and beta-carotene were suggested to contribute to the anti-aggregatory properties of tomatoes, later studies suggested that the anti-platelet factor of tomatoes was due to water-soluble, heat-stable compounds that are concentrated in the jelly substance surrounding the seeds [ 225 , 226 ]. It has been suggested that a diet containing anti-platelet compounds such as these have the potential of reducing lipid levels and lowering blood pressure and can reduce the risk of ischaemic heart disease and strokes by up to 80% in middle-aged individuals [ 227 , 228 ].

Many studies have shown tomato extracts to have platelet anti-aggregatory activity in vitro and in vivo and possibly preventing thrombus formation [ 222 , 224 , 225 , 226 , 229 , 230 , 231 , 232 ]. A study by Zhang et al. [ 233 ] investigated the impact of water-soluble tomato concentrate (WSTC) on the platelet aggregation in Sprague Dawley rats. This study found that WSTC inhibited adenosine diphosphate (ADP)-induced platelet aggregation in vitro and ex vivo in the rats without affecting their coagulation system [ 233 ]. Platelet aggregation relies on fibrinogen binding to the calcium-dependent glycoprotein (GP) IIb/IIIa complexes found on platelets [ 234 ]. When platelets are activated by ADP, these GP IIb/IIIa complexes bind with fibrinogen, leading to many platelets assembling and connecting to the same fibrinogen strands and forming a clot [ 235 ]. Zhang et al. [ 233 ] found that WSTC increased cytoskeleton stability and led to the inhibition of platelet aggregation. There are suggestions that people should adjust their diet to reduce cardiovascular risk and prevent any potential side effects, such as headaches or dizziness, nausea, and increased bleeding, including nose bleeds, associated with anti-platelet medications [ 236 ].

Inflammation plays an important role in atherosclerosis, a process associated with lipid accumulation in the artery wall [ 237 ]. Postprandial lipemia, characterised by an increase in triglyceride-rich lipoproteins, is a condition known to trigger inflammation and atherogenesis in humans [ 238 ]. The transcription factor NF-κB, previously mentioned in relation to cancer development, is also a modulator of inflammation in the liver [ 169 ]. The liver is involved in the uptake, formation, and exportation of lipoprotein and is thus an essential component of lipid metabolism [ 239 ]. Therefore, inflammation and liver damage can have a detrimental impact on lipid metabolism in mammals. Sahin et al. [ 169 ] supplemented a rat diet with tomato powder and found that this resulted in reduced liver damage caused by age-associated inflammation and oxidative stress through the inhibition of the NF-κB pathway.

The activation of NF-κB in cultures of endothelial and smooth muscle cells with inflammatory stimuli is also suggested to have a role in atherosclerosis formation [ 240 , 241 ]. NF-κB activation has also been observed in previous studies [ 241 , 242 ] and genes expressed in atherosclerotic plaques are regulated by NF-κB [ 242 ]. There is strong evidence that a reduction in inflammation can reduce the risk of atherosclerosis caused by NF-κB activation but no research to date has investigated the impact of tomato extract on atherosclerosis caused by NF-κB activation. It is worth noting that tomato powder supplementation of rats has been shown to inhibit the NF-κB pathway in the liver of animals [ 169 ].

Vascular endothelium plays an important role in the constriction and dilation of blood vessels, and its dysfunction is suggested as an early, reversible precursor of atherosclerosis. In a randomised controlled trial in post-menopausal women, the effect of 70 g tomato puree ingestion was examined on endothelial-dependent, flow-mediated dilation (FMD) and endothelial-independent, nitro-mediated dilation of the brachial artery using high-resolution ultrasound. The effects after 24 h and 7-day intake were examined [ 243 ]. Although a significant increase in plasma lycopene was observed after 7 days, it did not affect endothelium-dependent or -independent dilation of the brachial artery. Similar findings were reported by another group, where 80 g of tomato paste puree per day for 7 days failed to affect the flow-mediated dilation of the brachial artery after a standardised fat meal, however, the incorporation of tomato paste produced a significant improvement in the haemodynamic changes, such as reduction in diastolic blood pressure, increase in brachial artery diameter, and decrease in stiffness index [ 244 ].

Overall, the potential benefits of a tomato-enriched diet are associated with lowering of blood pressure; anti-platelet, anti-inflammatory, and anti-apoptotic activity; and lipid lowering, as well as the inhibition of LDL oxidation; the latter is believed to be key player in the pathophysiology of atherosclerosis, a hallmark of cardiovascular disease.

It is worth noting that the role of a tomato-rich diet on cardiovascular disease was further evaluated in a recent meta-analysis by Rosato et al. [ 245 ]. This paper described the positive impact of the Mediterranean diet on cardiovascular disease in particular foods such as olive oil, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes, and fish, but not red meats [ 245 ]. It is stressed that it is the combination of elements in the Mediterranean diet, including the phytochemicals found in fresh fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, that results in these positive impacts, and these elements on their own would not have the same impact [ 143 ]. Although a tomato-enriched diet has been shown to influence several key mechanisms that are important in vascular pathology, and population-based studies show an inverse correlation between their intake and cardiovascular disease, it is unlikely to affect a multifactorial disease such as CVD when used in isolation. However, if incorporated as a component of a healthy diet, it should provide an additive effect when combined with other cardioprotective nutrients in food.

Recent studies have shown that the beneficial effects of tomato compounds are not limited to cardiovascular diseases and cancer but have also been reported in neurological disorders and diabetes mellitus (DM) [ 74 , 78 , 109 , 246 , 247 ].

4.4. Neurodegenerative Disorders

Neurodegenerative diseases are associated with the degeneration of the nervous system over a long period of time and, among these, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and cerebral ischaemia associated with stroke are the most common neurodegenerative diseases. Neuroinflammation, oxidative stress, and apoptosis are important hallmarks of these diseases.

The majority of cases of stroke are due to cerebral ischaemia, and population-based studies have shown a negative association between tomato, especially lycopene intake, and incidence of stroke [ 205 , 248 , 249 ]. In rats, a tomato pomace powder pre-treatment at doses of 2, 10, and 50 mg/kg protected various areas of the brain, including hippocampus, striatum, and cerebral cortex affected by experimental cerebral ischaemia induced by permanent occlusion of the middle cerebral artery [ 250 ]. The tomato pomace powder pre-treatment of animals also increased the activities of antioxidant enzymes glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase and decreased the lipid peroxidation product malondialdehyde in the hippocampus and cerebral cortex area of the brain.

In Alzheimer’s disease (AD), neurofibrillary tangles (aggregates of tau protein), a reduction in neurotropic factors, and amyloid-β plaque are present. Amyloid-β accumulation can induce apoptosis both via extrinsic death receptor-mediated and intrinsic mitochondria-mediated pathways, and lycopene has been shown to inhibit these pathways. In human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells, the pre-treatment of cells with 0.2 and 0.5 μmol/L lycopene for one hour, followed by 24 h stimulation with amyloid-β (20 μM), significantly inhibited apoptosis through its dose-related effects on Bax/Bcl-2 and cleavage of pro-caspase-3 [ 251 ]. In addition, lycopene pre-treatment reduced amyloid-β induced oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, and NF-κB activation in the cells. Lycopene has also been shown to improve the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) during neurotoxic challenges [ 252 ]. Lycopene supplementation of male Wistar rats at a dose of 5 mL/kg body weight for 21 days reduced neuro-inflammation, oxidative damage to mitochondria, and apoptosis, and improved memory retention and restoration of BDNF level in β-A1-42 treated rats [ 252 ]. Yu et al. also provided evidence that dietary lycopene supplementation could improve cognitive performance in tau transgenic mice expressing P301L mutation [ 253 ]. Likewise, Zhao et al. demonstrated that lycopene supplementation could reduce oxidative stress and neuroinflammation and improve cognitive impairment in aged CD-1 mice [ 254 ]. A recent review provided details of in vitro and animal studies describing the neuroprotective role of lycopene and related this to its antioxidant activity, the inhibition of a redox-sensitive transcription factor NF-kB, a reduced expression of amyloid-β and its precursor, a reduction in neuroinflammation, an improvement in mitochondrial function, memory, and learning as well as a restoration of antioxidant defence [ 77 ]. Vascular dementia is associated with cerebral ischaemia and a recent study examined the effects of supplementation with lycopene at a dose of 50, 100 and 200 mg/kg body weight every other day for two months in a vascular dementia model in rats. At 100 mg/kg dose, lycopene supplementation reduced the oxidative stress, improved the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase levels in the hippocampus and improved the learning-memory ability of animals [ 255 ].

In human studies, lower antioxidant status, especially vitamin C, lycopene, vitamin E, and antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase, and high levels of markers of oxidative stress have been reported in the plasma [ 256 , 257 , 258 , 259 ] as well as cerebrospinal fluid [ 259 , 260 , 261 ] of AD patients. In the Nurses Health study, participants aged ≥70 years were followed up for 4 years, and a decline in cognitive function was reported to be slower with high lycopene intake but not with vitamin C, β-carotene, and vitamin E intakes [ 262 ]. A recent study that followed up elderly patients over 5–6 years reported that plasma antioxidants such as vitamin E isomers (alpha- and gamma-tocopherol), retinol, and carotenoids were not significantly associated with a reduced risk of dementia or AD [ 263 ]. The lack of association could be related to the age group of 70–75 years that was studied. AD is a chronic disease and may have already been present in the cohort that was included in the study; therefore, the study population was not likely to be a suitable age group to examine the associations.

The prevalence rate of AD is less than 1% before 65 years of age, and it increases to 10% after 65 years of age. The brain, due to its high oxygen consumption, high polyunsaturated fatty acids, and transition metals ion content, is highly susceptible to oxidative stress, and antioxidants such as vitamin C, carotenoids, and flavonoids present in tomatoes are therefore a likely candidate for the protection offered by this fruit against neurodegenerative disease. Future follow-up studies should be conducted in 60–65-year-old individuals to confirm whether tomato or its constituents, carotenoid, vitamin C, and flavonoid, intake can slow down cognitive decline with aging.

Parkinson’s, a neurodegenerative disease, is also associated with oxidative stress and neuronal apoptosis, and its pathology is also likely to be influenced by antioxidant and anti-apoptotic dietary components. The motor disability seen in Parkinson’s is suggested to be due to the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons leading to a decrease in dopamine (DA) in the striatum. Supplementation with 20% ( w / w ) lyophilised tomato powder for 4 weeks before methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) induced Parkinson’s disease (PD) in mice was reported to prevent a striatal decrease in the DA levels [ 264 ]. In another study in mice, 7-day pre-treatment with lycopene at doses of 5, 10, and 20 mg/kg was examined on MPTP-induced PD, and treatment was found to reduce MPTP-induced oxidative stress, apoptosis, and depletion of dopamine in the striatum [ 265 ]. Likewise, vitamin C feeding of mice at a dose of 15 mg/kg body for 3 days before intraperitoneal injection of MPTP at 20 mg/kg reduced neuroinflammation and dopaminergic neuronal degradation in the striatum and improved the locomotor inability caused by the neurotoxin [ 266 ].

Overall, pathological changes seen in AD, PD, and cerebral ischaemia have been shown to be ameliorated with lycopene and tomato extract in studies that were conducted in vitro as well as in animal studies. Few human studies in AD and PD patients have indicated a protective role; however, studies are limited and not conclusive likely due to the age group that has been studied in observational as well as intervention studies. Further human studies for AD- and PD-related investigations in the age group 60–65 years old are likely to provide a better insight into the protective role that a tomato-enriched diet may offer against these neurodegenerative diseases.

4.5. Diabetes

Carotenoids may play a role in reducing the risk of insulin resistance and the development of diabetes, and an inverse association has been reported between plasma β-carotene, lycopene, and glucose intolerance in newly diagnosed patients [ 267 ] and on glycated haemoglobin levels in older type 2 diabetes patients [ 268 , 269 , 270 ].

Type 2 diabetes is described as a multifactorial metabolic syndrome associated with oxidative stress, inflammation, hyperglycaemia, and hyperlipidaemia [ 271 ]. Tomato constituents have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have examined hypoglycaemic, hypolipidemic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects of tomatoes, especially lycopene. In experimental diabetic rats, lycopene at a dose of 10 mg/kg/day for 28 days significantly reduced the increase in blood glucose and glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) levels induced by streptozotocin (STZ) [ 272 ]. In another study, male albino Sprague Dawley rats were fed a high-fat diet for 4 weeks followed by intraperitoneal injection of STZ at 25 mg/kg. The effects of lycopene administration at 10 and 20 mg lycopene per kg body weight/day for 10 days was examined on the fasting blood glucose, lipids, and glycosylated haemoglobin levels, and a reversal to normality of these parameters was seen with lycopene supplementation [ 273 ]. A recent case-control study reported that lycopene intake positively correlated with peripheral antioxidant activity, antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase, and glutathione peroxidase levels and negatively correlated with fasting blood glucose and glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) levels in patients with type 2 diabetes [ 274 ]. A detailed account of evidence from in vitro, animal, and human studies (cross-sectional, prospective, and two randomised controlled trials) suggesting a preventive role of lycopene and tomato-enriched diet against diabetes is provided by Zhu et al. [ 80 ].

Figueriredo et al. [ 275 ] reported that a combination of lycopene with metformin had an additive effect on improvements in postprandial blood glucose levels, dyslipidaemia, and antioxidant status. The investigation was performed in rats, and STZ-induced diabetic rats were treated with lycopene (45 mg/kg) and metformin (250 mg/kg) alone and in combination for 35 days.

There is ample evidence from animal studies suggesting a decrease in diabetes-induced hyperglycaemia, dyslipidaemia, and oxidative stress. There is, however, limited evidence from human intervention trials. Shidfar et al. [ 276 ] fed type 2 diabetic patients with 200 g raw tomatoes/day for 8 weeks. No significant effect was observed in blood glucose levels. However, there was a significant improvement in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure as well as improvements in apoprotein A-1 (ApoA-1) levels. Diabetic patients are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease and the ApoA-1 constituent protein of high-density lipoprotein is important for the anti-atherogenic properties of HDL. Bose and Agarwal [ 277 ] reported that the supplementation of diabetic patients with cooked tomatoes improved the antioxidant defence and plasma lipid peroxidation products but failed to affect the lipid profile and HbA1c levels. It is important to note that the majority of studies that show hypoglycaemic effects of lycopene were carried out using pure compounds, and concentrations were much higher than likely to be achieved by the amount of tomato products that were used by Shidfar et al. [ 276 ] and Bose and Agarwal [ 277 ] for human studies.

Zidani et al. [ 278 ] reported that 12 weeks’ supplementation of mice with 46 and 84 mg of lycopene/kg of food provided by tomato peel extract significantly reduced insulin resistance caused by the high-fat diet. Both type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes (GD) are associated with insulin resistance. In the case of GD, it is caused by a hormonal change during pregnancy. Tomatoes have a low glycaemic index, and therefore can be considered as a potential fruit of choice for pregnant women. Very few studies have examined the association or effect of tomato-rich diets on gestational diabetes. A cross-sectional study that used food frequency questionnaires to estimate the food/nutrient intake of its participants highlighted that high lycopene protected against gestational diabetes-associated hyperglycaemia in women and suggested that intake can offer a protective effect against GD [ 279 ].

To date, anti-diabetic effects in animal studies have either tested the effects of lycopene or tomato extract. Tomatoes contain glycoalkaloid esculeoside A, and its concentration is four times higher than that of lycopene. Yang et al. [ 100 ] suggested that esculeoside A can be considered as a functional supplement for diabetes. In their study, wild-type C57BLKS mice were used and esculeoside A (100 mg/kg) administration by gavage for 56 days was found to lead to a reduction in fasting blood glucose levels and improved glucose tolerance in mice [ 100 ].

Both type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes are on the rise and can be prevented with diet and lifestyle interventions [ 280 , 281 ]. It is well known that synthetic hypoglycaemic medications that are used for type 2 diabetes induce side effects. Further investigations of foods such as tomato products either on their own or in combination with other hypoglycaemic foods are warranted to confirm if the findings of animal studies can be replicated in humans, as the evidence from randomised controlled trials is limited and inconclusive at present.

4.6. Tomato Fruit for Skin Health

The properties of tomatoes are not limited to disease prevention. Studies have provided evidence of the beneficial effects of dietary tomato and its supplements for improved skin health [ 282 , 283 , 284 ]. The principle of oral photoprotection provided by antioxidants to prevent the harmful effects from UV radiation has gained popularity over the last decade [ 282 , 283 , 284 ]. The benefits and hazards of solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation are well documented and include the effects of solar exposure on skin cancer, malignant melanoma, immune suppression, photoaging, photosensitivity, and diseases in the eye [ 85 , 86 , 285 , 286 , 287 ]. Acute UV radiation has been linked to skin burns, oedema, abnormal pigmentation, and photokeratitis, and long-term exposure increases the risk of photoaging and malignant tumours [ 85 , 86 , 284 , 286 , 287 ]. Three types of UV rays are produced by sunlight, UVA, UVB, and UVC [ 86 , 284 , 288 ]. UVA rays have the longest wavelength, followed by UVB, while UVC rays have the shortest wavelength. UVC has the strongest mutagenicity, followed by UVB, while UVA is considered a weak mutagen [ 85 , 284 , 287 ]. However, all UVC rays are absorbed by the Earth’s ozone layer, therefore, exposure is unlikely, except through an artificial source such as a laser [ 85 , 287 ]. UVA rays can penetrate the dermis and the subcutaneous tissue area [ 84 , 284 , 287 ]. UVB rays can reach the epidermis and have the capacity to interact with DNA [ 84 , 284 , 289 ]. The underlying mechanism involves the production of ROS by UV radiation, which hinders DNA replication and transcription and results in destructive oxidative stress, the activation of the arachidonic acid pathway, and the mediation of inflammatory responses [ 85 , 287 ].

Studies by Groten et al. and Aust et al. provided evidence that carotenoid-containing supplements could significantly protect against UVB-induced erythema by reducing oxidative stress [ 282 , 288 ]. Baswan et al. reported similar findings regarding carotenoid supplementation against both UVB-induced erythema and UVA-induced pigmentation [ 289 ]. Grether-Beck et al. examined the capacity of carotenoids, including lycopene-rich tomato nutrient complex (TNC) and lutein, to protect against UVA/B and UVA1 radiation at a molecular level [ 283 ]. Analysis of the mRNA expression of key genes involved in solar radiation-induced skin damage, including heme-oxygenase 1 (HO1), matrix metalloproteinase 1 (MMP1), and intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM1), revealed that UVB/A and UVA1 radiation significantly upregulated steady-state levels of HO-1, ICAM-1, and MMP-1 mRNA in the skin of healthy volunteers who did not receive the supplement. Moreover, TNC and lutein treatment significantly inhibited UVB/A and UVA1 radiation-induced gene expression [ 283 ]. Calniquer et al. assessed the effect of a combination of carotenoids and polyphenols (tomato extract with rosemary extract) on the response of skin cells to UV irradiation [ 290 ]. The results demonstrated that carotenoids and polyphenols worked in synergy and that combining these compounds was more effective in balancing UV-induced skin cell damage than using them separately [ 290 ].

Vitamin C is another compound found in tomatoes that contributes to immune modulation [ 24 ]. When applied topically, it is known to be actively taken up by epidermal and dermal skin cells using sodium-dependent vitamin C transporter isoforms (SVCT1 and SVCT2) [ 137 ]. These cells are involved in the production of collagen fibres and therefore are essential to the function of the skin as a barrier against pathogens [ 136 ].

The use of natural ingredients such as tomato extract or tomato seed oil in cosmetic products for skin care and health has also received popularity over the last few years [ 85 , 86 , 87 , 121 , 284 , 287 , 291 , 292 , 293 , 294 , 295 , 296 , 297 ]. Tomato seed oil has been extensively used in the production of cosmetic and personal care products such as anti-aging serums, body butter, sunscreens, and skin lightening cream due to its high linoleic acid, lecithin, antioxidant, and natural UV protection attributes [ 284 ].

Furthermore, there is increasing evidence that a diet rich in antioxidants may significantly influence the course of certain skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis, acne, and psoriasis [ 285 , 291 , 298 ]. Multiple in vitro studies in mice have revealed that polyphenols including quercetin and gallic acid present in tomatoes may be an alternative for the development of cosmetics that could be used to treat acne vulgaris [ 108 , 299 , 300 , 301 ].

Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic relapsing inflammatory skin disease that can affect up to 25% of children within a diverse paediatric population [ 302 ]. Symptoms can include itching and scratching, dry skin, patchy eczema, exudation, and skin thickening and discolouration [ 302 ]. Although the mechanisms of the pathogenesis of AD have not been fully elucidated, the chronically inflamed skin of patients with AD plays a key role in pathogenesis, with the overproduction of ROS and a decrease in antioxidant defence [ 302 ]. Sapuntsova et al. have reported that levels of ROS were significantly higher in the skin biopsies in AD patients compared to those of controls [ 303 ]. Lycoperoside H, an anti-inflammatory component present in the seed part of tomatoes, was shown by Takeda et al. to relieve symptoms of AD in transgenic mice expressing IL-33 driven by a keratin-14 promoter (IL33tg) [ 62 ].

Other reported benefits of tomato compounds for skin health include the protection against tick bites and heavy metal toxicity [ 64 , 121 , 292 , 296 , 299 ]. Boulanger et al. showed that natural skin repellents made from eucalyptus, tomato, and coconut can protect against tick-borne infections such as Lyme disease [ 63 ]. A study by Tito et al. demonstrated that an active ingredient derived from Lycopersicon esculentum tomato cultured stem cells protected skin cells against heavy metal toxicity [ 292 ]. The mechanism of action involves the preservation of nuclear DNA integrity from heavy metal damage by inducing the genes responsible for DNA repair and protection and also involves the neutralisation of the effect of heavy metals on collagen degradation by inhibiting collagenase expression and inducing the synthesis of new collagen [ 292 ]. Additionally, in a study involving Indian women, Nutrova, a blend of collagen peptides and natural antioxidants from tomatoes, green tea, and grapes, has been shown to significantly reduce wrinkles, skin roughness, and hyperpigmentation while improving skin hydration and firmness [ 296 ]. Similarly, another study of 4000 women showed that a diet reported as high in potassium and vitamins A and C correlated to fewer wrinkles in patients’ skin [ 291 ].

It can be concluded that incorporating tomatoes into a diet could have benefits to a person’s skin health. The suggested benefits include protection against UV radiation through antioxidant properties [ 284 ], treatment of skin inflammatory conditions such as AD [ 62 ], and protection against tick bites and heavy metal toxicity [ 63 , 292 ].

4.7. Tomatoes, Gut Microbiome, and Inflammation

“Microbiome” is a term used to describe a community of colonising microorganisms such as fungi, viruses, and bacteria found in a particular environment [ 304 ]. Microbial populations reside throughout the human body, including the stomach and intestines, and are increasingly described as a key link between genetic and environmental impacts that affect an individual’s health [ 304 , 305 ]. The gut microbiome is defined as all microorganisms found in the gastrointestinal tract consisting of bacteria, archaea, viruses, and eukaryotic microbes, and can have as many as 100 trillion cells [ 305 , 306 ]. These bacteria are known to vary in composition depending on the lifestyle, genetics, and diet of the host [ 305 ].

The composition of the gut microbiome is implicated in the development of liver inflammatory disease and liver cancer [ 307 ]. In a 2018 study by Xia et al. [ 308 ], mice were fed a high-fat diet (HFD) supplemented with a liver-specific carcinogen (DEN) along with a tomato powder rich in lycopene, which has previously been shown to inhibit HFD-induced liver disease [ 309 ]. The tomato powder significantly increased both diversity and richness of the gut microbiota in all mice [ 308 ]. The gut microbiome contains both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, and it has been shown that an increase in Gram-negative bacteria in the gut can lead to an increase in the level of hepatotoxic compounds, such as lipopolysaccharides (LPS) [ 310 ].

LPS are major components of the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria and are known to induce inflammation through induction of Toll-like receptor 4, which can lead to cell proliferation and a reduction in apoptosis [ 129 , 310 ]. In 2018, Xia et al. reported that feeding mice tomato powder reduced the relative abundance of the gut Gram-negative bacteria by reducing levels of gut LPS in the mice, lowering the risk of inflammation [ 308 ]. Increasing the diversity and richness of the gut microbiome through tomato powder supplementation was found by the authors to regulate inflammation, lipid metabolism, and the circadian clock in the liver [ 308 ].

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) are chronic inflammatory conditions of the gastrointestinal tract and include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis [ 308 ]. Both of these conditions are affected by a number of factors, including abnormal gut microbiota [ 311 ]. A study by Scarano et al. (2018) [ 129 ] developed a bronze tomato line that was shown to have 30–50% higher levels of flavanols and anthocyanins when compared to other tomato lines. These tomatoes were freeze-dried, ground into powder, and incorporated into the diets of mice with induced chronic colitis [ 129 ]. The study found that a diet enriched with 1% bronze tomato fruit powder promoted a change in microbiota composition, moderately inhibiting inflammatory responses in the mice and thus reducing intestinal damage caused by chronic colitis [ 129 ]. This was continued in a follow-up study using the same bronze tomato line, which demonstrated the beneficial effects of this variety of tomato on intestinal inflammation and showed changes in the gut microbiome, especially an increase in Flavobacterium and Lactobacillus and a reduction in Oscillospira [ 130 ].

In summary, the composition of the gut microbiome is affected by the consumption of tomatoes, and this has implications for human health. Tomato powder has been shown to significantly increase the diversity and richness of the gut microbiome in mice, preventing a build-up of Gram-negative bacteria that produce hepatotoxic compounds, which can cause liver inflammatory disease and cancer [ 308 , 310 ]. Furthermore, freeze-dried tomatoes high in flavanols and anthocyanins have been shown to alter the composition of the gut microbiome by increasing Flavobacterium and Lactobacillus and decreasing Oscillospira populations, resulting in reduced inflammatory responses in mice and preventing intestinal damage by chronic colitis [ 129 , 130 ]. It is worth noting that most evidence shown to date is from animal studies, and it remains to be seen whether tomato product intervention can be beneficial for conditions associated with gut dysbiosis.

4.8. Tomatoes and Exercise Recovery

Exercise and increased muscle activity result in higher amounts of ROS due to increased ATP production and oxygen utilisation [ 312 ]. ROS are highly reactive and can damage macromolecules such as proteins, DNA, and lipids. ROS such as peroxides and superoxides can be damaging to cells if concentrations are excessive [ 313 , 314 ]. Regular exercise builds resistance of the body against oxidative stress by upregulating the expression of genes that synthesise antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase [ 312 ].

Antioxidants such as vitamins, terpenoids, and phenolics can inhibit oxidative stress and neutralise ROS [ 314 , 315 , 316 ]. Antioxidants found naturally in plant tissues, including tomato fruit, can provide the protection against ROS. Previous studies have indicated that lycopene and lycopene metabolites can have a positive effect on recovery from exercise-induced physiological stress [ 144 , 317 ]. Lycopene is known to be the most effective singlet oxygen scavenger, exhibiting quenching rates multiple times greater than any other carotenoid [ 317 , 318 ].

Creatinine phosphokinase (CPK) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) are associated with ATP and NADH conversion in muscle cells and can be monitored as markers of muscle damage in individuals undergoing exercise sessions [ 319 ]. A study by Tsitsimpikou et al. [ 319 ] tested whether the administration of 100 g of tomato juice could improve the recovery of anaerobically trained athletes. The study found that a 2-month administration of tomato juice, post exercise, led to a significant decrease in LDH and CPK levels compared to a carbohydrate supplementation beverage [ 319 ].

Another study carried out by Nieman et al. [ 318 ] administered a “tomato complex” containing lycopene, phytoene, and phytofluene (T-LPP) to endurance runners for a 4-week period and monitored inflammation, muscle damage, and oxidative stress post exercise and during recovery from a two-hour running session. Myoglobin is an iron- and oxygen-binding protein found in muscle tissue that is translocated to the blood compartment after low-level muscle injury caused by exercising and can be used as a marker for muscle injury [ 318 ]. Nieman et al. [ 318 ] found a significant increase in plasma carotenoid levels and a reduction in myoglobin, suggesting possible reductions in muscle injury as a result of consuming the “tomato complex” supplement following a 2 h running session.

Tomato products and supplementation with their constituents are suggested to reduce muscle damage caused during anaerobic exercise as well as reduce oxidative stress during aerobic exercise, as shown by Harms-Ringdahl et al. [ 320 ]. In their study, 15 healthy and untrained participants engaged in 20 min of aerobic exercise on a bicycle after receiving 150 mL of tomato juice for 5 weeks, followed by 5 weeks without tomato juice, and for the final intervention they received tomato juice for another 5 weeks [ 320 ]. The blood samples were collected before and after each intervention, and results showed that tomato juice intake significantly suppressed 8-oxodG (a marker of oxidative damage) levels produced with the physical activity [ 320 ]. Therefore, there is evidence that tomato products can reduce oxidative stress and muscle damage caused by physical exertion and can be considered as a workout drink [ 320 ].

4.9. Tomatoes and the Immune System

Tomatoes and tomato products are suggested to affect the immune system [ 321 ], and current literature relates this to their lycopene, β-carotene, and vitamin C content. In a human study, supplementation with tomato products (tomato sauce, tomato puree, and raw tomatoes) providing 8 mg lycopene, 0.5 mg β-carotene, and 11 mg vitamin C for 3 weeks was reported to produce a significant increase in plasma levels of lycopene, β-carotene, and vitamin C; however, only lycopene and vitamin C levels increased in the lymphocyte [ 322 ]. Supplementation also reduced ex vivo oxidative damage to the DNA of lymphocytes [ 322 ]. How vitamin C can affect the immune system has been reviewed by Van Gorkam et al. who describe that, although the data on the effects of vitamin C on B lymphocytes are limited and inconclusive, vitamin C increases the proliferation of T-lymphocytes and natural killer (NK) cells [ 323 ]. T-lymphocytes play a key role in cell-mediated, cytotoxic adaptive immunity, and natural killer (NK) cells provide rapid cytolytic responses to virus-infected cells and tumour cells [ 324 , 325 ]. Few studies in human subjects reported that supplementation with β-carotene stimulates the proliferation of lymphocytes [ 326 , 327 ] and enhances the lytic activity of NK cells [ 5 , 327 ]. A study carried out by Watzl et al. [ 321 ] supplemented human subjects with tomato juice and carrot juice—both of which are known for their high β-carotene content. This study found that supplementation with the juices significantly increased lymphocyte proliferation and enhanced the lytic activity of natural killer cells [ 321 ]. No significant differences were observed between the effects of either juice, indicating a similar effect on the immune response, or that other compounds present in both juices resulted in the observed effects [ 321 ].

Naringenin is a flavanone (a subclass of flavonoids) that has also been shown to have immune-modulating functions [ 328 , 329 ]. In an in vitro study, Niu and colleagues demonstrated that naringenin could inhibit T cell activity by various mechanisms, such as lowering the secretion of specific T cell cytokines and affecting T cell proliferation [ 329 ]. Further investigation revealed that that inhibition of cell proliferation was triggered by delayed degradation of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p27kip1 and the downregulation of retinoblastoma protein phosphorylation in activated T cells, resulting in a T cell cycle arrest at G0/G1 phase [ 329 ]. Other findings indicated that the T cell-suppressive effects could be attributed to the capacity of naringenin to interfere with the interleukin-2/interleukin-2 receptor (IL-2/IL-2R)-mediated signalling pathway and STAT5 phosphorylation in activated T cells [ 329 ].

The immune-modulating effects of lycopene have been hypothesised through their antioxidant activity and their effects on lymphocyte proliferation and on improving cell–cell communication [ 330 , 331 ]. A 2017 study tested 40 mice divided into five groups: an ambient air control; a vehicle control group receiving 200 µL of sunflower oil; a group exposed to cigarette smoke; and two groups administered lycopene diluted in sunflower oil (25 or 50 mg/kg/day) prior to cigarette smoke exposure [ 332 ]. The 5-day testing period resulted in an increase in the number of lymphocytes in lycopene-treated groups compared to other treatments [ 332 ]. This study suggested that the increase in lymphocytes was a result of lycopene activating the adaptive immune response [ 333 ], and the latter is known to be vital in pathogenic defence. However, further studies are warranted to fully understand lycopene’s direct impact on the adaptive immune system in humans [ 334 ].

As one of the most popular world crops, the tomato has also been considered as an edible vaccine for a wide variety of diseases, including malaria, coronavirus (COVID-19), human papillomavirus infections, human immunodeficiency virus infections, shigellosis, cholera, anthrax, and hepatitis B [ 97 , 335 , 336 , 337 , 338 , 339 ]. The main objectives of edible vaccines are to democratize preventive vaccination, especially in developing countries, and to better control potential outbreaks such as coronavirus disease. Traditional vaccine development requires more time and high cost, while the development of an edible vaccine in a plant expression system provides an efficient mode of oral delivery and bypasses the assistance of a medical professional to perform injections. It is also economically sustainable, with higher scale production. However, there are several hurdles to overcome, such as the immunogenicity of an oral vaccine, the stability of the vaccine in the gastrointestinal tract, the variability of the expression of antigens in plants, and the effects associated with the consumption of genetically modified plants on health [ 336 , 339 ]. Shchelkunov et al. designed an oral vaccine against hepatitis B and human immunodeficiency viruses using tomato fruits, which was administered to experimental mice [ 337 ]. Examination of serum and stool samples of the test animals revealed high levels of HIV- and HBV-specific antibodies [ 337 ]. Salyaev et al. investigated the duration of the mucosal immune response in mice after administration of this vaccine in a subsequent study [ 340 ]. Results showed a steady increase in the immune response, with a peak observed between 6 and 11 months post-administration followed by a gradual decrease in the levels of antibodies until they became undetectable after 19 months [ 340 ].

Evidence from in vitro, animal, and a few human studies describes a significant increase in lycopene and vitamin C content of lymphocytes, improvements in T cell mediated immunity, and the lytic activity of NK cells, and there is also a suggestion of the use of tomato fruit as an edible vaccine. However, even though plant-based vaccines offer a promising alternative, their clinical development remains challenging, and further research is required in human clinical studies [ 336 , 339 ].

4.10. Tomatoes and Fertility

Infertility is a disease of the male or female reproductive system characterised by the inability to accomplish a pregnancy following at least 12 months of regular unprotected sexual intercourse [ 341 , 342 , 343 ]. According to statistics, 48 million couples and 186 million individuals live with infertility globally [ 341 ], and male factors account for at least 50% of all infertility cases worldwide [ 343 ]. Oxidative stress (OS), which arises from an imbalance between ROS and protective antioxidants, can affect the entire reproductive lifespan of men and women [ 344 ] and has been shown to be a major cause of reproductive dysfunction [ 344 , 345 ].

The positive effects of antioxidants in female fertility have also been described [ 346 , 347 , 348 , 349 ]. OS has also been recognised as one of the main mediators of female infertility and has been associated with various reproductive pathologies, including endometriosis, preeclampsia, spontaneous abortion, and unexplained infertility [ 347 , 348 ]. Studies have shown the presence of ROS in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and embryos of women with idiopathic fertility [ 348 ]. Additionally, ROS have been shown to play a role in the regulation of ovarian steroid biosynthesis and secretion, primordial follicle recruitment, and ovulation, and they can also affect the fertilisation process and post-fertilisation events, although the underlying molecular mechanisms have not been fully elucidated [ 346 ].

The current literature on folate and fertility endpoints indicates that a high intake of folic acid in the preconception period may increase pregnancy success rates. Upadhyaya et al. showed that folate levels in red-ripe tomato fruits could range from 14 to 46 μg/100 g FW [ 131 ]. Furthermore, a lack of vitamin C seems to be associated with an increased risk of preeclampsia, and some studies have shown that vitamin supplements could lower the risk of preeclampsia in normal or underweight women [ 346 ]. Some studies have demonstrated that oral administration of multivitamins including folic acid and vitamins C, D, and E can increase fertility [ 346 ]. Yu et al. reported that β-carotene has a similar antioxidant potential to folic acid and could also improve the oocyte development and maturation and ovarian function in mice [ 348 ]. Therefore, there is some indirect evidence on the role that a tomato-enriched diet may play in female fertility; however, to date, no studies have specifically examined the effects of a tomato-enriched diet on OS-related effects on female fertility.

According to research, between 30 and 80% of male infertility cases are caused by OS and a decreased level of seminal total antioxidant capacity [ 342 , 345 , 350 ]. Evidence shows that the semen from infertile men has a lower antioxidant capacity and high levels of ROS compared to fertile men [ 345 , 346 ]. As a source of antioxidants, tomato’s constituents and their supplement counterparts may be important for reducing OS and improving semen parameters, including sperm concentration, motility, morphology, and fertility rate [ 341 , 343 , 351 ]. In a human study, tomato soup consumption at 400 g/day significantly increased seminal plasma levels of lycopene, though the effects on plasma antioxidant levels failed to reach significance [ 352 ]. As potent antioxidants, the role of carotenoids in fertility has been extensively investigated [ 345 , 348 , 353 , 354 , 355 ]. Williams et al. examined the effect of lactolycopene, a combination of lycopene with whey protein, which protects lycopene from digestion, on sperm quality in a randomised placebo-controlled trial [ 354 ]. Findings suggested that a dose of 14 mg/d lactolycopene over the course of 12 weeks improved the sperm motility and morphology in healthy individuals [ 354 ]. Another study by Yamamoto et al. reported similar findings regarding lycopene in a study involving three groups of male infertile patients [ 356 ]. On a daily basis, the first group was given 190 g of tomato juice (containing 30 mg lycopene, 38 mg vitamin C, and 3 mg vitamin E), the second group received antioxidant capsules (containing vitamin C 600 mg, vitamin E 200 mg, and glutathione 300 mg), and the third group was given the placebo [ 356 ]. The consumption of tomato juice over the course of 12 weeks significantly increased the plasma lycopene level and sperm motility compared to the control group [ 356 ]. The group that received the antioxidant capsule, however, showed no significant improvement in semen parameters, suggesting that the increase in plasma lycopene seen in the tomato juice group improved male fertility [ 356 ].

Research on the polyphenols, flavonoids, and vitamins of tomatoes, including vitamin E, quercetin, and naringenin, indicates that these compounds may also play important roles in the enhancement of semen quality, including sperm concentration, motility, vitality, and structural integrity [ 139 , 341 , 342 , 345 , 349 , 351 , 357 ]. Although other findings are conflicting, according to Aitken et al., at high doses quercetin can have adverse effects on spermatozoa [ 341 , 358 ]. Sabetian et al. provided evidence that oral synthetic vitamin E (400 IU/day) for eight weeks could improve semen parameters and pregnancy rates by neutralising free radical activity and protecting cellular membranes of sperm, which are particularly vulnerable to oxidative damage [ 139 , 346 , 350 ]. Similarly, in vitro studies in rats and boars have reported the protective effects of quercetin and naringenin on semen [ 359 , 360 ]. Moretti et al. reported that quercetin and naringenin can protect spermatozoa by inhibiting lipid peroxidation in human sperm [ 361 ]. Vitamin C, a constituent of tomatoes, has been reported to be present in high concentrations in seminal plasma, and it is established that increasing the concentration of vitamin C in seminal plasma protects against DNA damage [ 345 , 346 ]. Greco et al. conducted a trial involving infertile men treated with both vitamin E and vitamin C [ 362 ]. After 8 weeks, the levels of DNA damage were significantly reduced in the treatment group ( p < 0.001). However, vitamin E and C intake did not seem to have a significant effect on major semen parameters [ 362 ].

ROS can be detrimental for fertility both in women and men. Tomato constituents as well as the consumption of tomato products have been suggested to play an important role in fertility. However, the fertility related role of tomato products has only been studied in men, and human intervention with tomato products was shown to increase lycopene levels in the seminal fluids of men and improve sperm motility but failed to improve the antioxidant activity. There are some studies that show an increase in antioxidant activity of seminal plasma with vitamin C and naringenin, which are known to be constituents of tomatoes; however, the current literature also suggests that the individual bioactive compounds of tomato may not have the same mechanisms of action in vivo as their food counterparts [ 129 ]. This is likely due to the synergistic action of nutrients when consumed in food rather than individual constituents. Overall, the role of tomato products in fertility requires further investigation to confirm the dose and length of time that is likely to be beneficial for infertility issues both in men and women.

Table 3 provides a summary of the main findings of studies that have indicated a beneficial role of tomatoes and their constituents on age-related chronic diseases as well as fertility- and exercise-induced physiological stress.

Main findings of the effects of tomatoes on conditions detailed as part of this review.

5. Detrimental Effects of Tomatoes

In contrast to the above-mentioned beneficial effects of a tomato-enriched diet, it is also important to report the potentially detrimental effects that tomato-enriched diets can have on human health. Examples of these detrimental effects include heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome, urinary problems, exposure to pollutants (pesticides, soil herbicides, atmospheric gaseous pollutants, and ethylene gas), migraines, body aches related to glycoalkaloids, anaphylactic reactions, lycopenodermia (an orange or red discolouration of the skin), renal calculi, hepatitis A, and Salmonella sp. infections [ 363 , 364 , 365 , 366 , 367 , 368 , 369 , 370 , 371 , 372 , 373 , 374 ].

A cohort study has revealed that the intake of fruits and vegetables with higher levels of pesticide residue contamination has been associated with poorer semen quality and a lower probability of live birth among couples undergoing fertility treatment [ 370 ]. Another investigation showed that pesticides residues on tomatoes may cause harmful health effects and constitute a threat particularly to children’s health [ 369 ].

Concerning heavy metal toxicity, it is acknowledged that some metals have the capacity to translocate into plant shoots and accumulate in given plant organs, including roots, stems, leaves, and fruits. More specifically, tomatoes grown in contaminated soil constitute a significant health risk due to a higher potential heavy metal uptake and therefore a higher toxicity [ 372 ]. From tomato crop in Quito markets (Ecuador), Romero-Estévez and his team highlighted that levels of lead in tomatoes were near or exceeded the threshold value (0.100 mg/kg) from four markets (0.209, 0.162, 0.110, 0.099 mg/kg), suggesting a possible risk of lead toxicity from tomato consumption [ 372 ]. Similar studies also underline the importance of monitoring the content of heavy metals in tomatoes due to their ability to accumulate in the human body and the health risks that they can pose after long-term exposure, even with small doses [ 371 ]. Not only is the presence of heavy metal a health risk but it can also adversely impact the levels of nutrients in tomatoes, including lycopene and ascorbic acid [ 371 , 372 , 373 ].

Another risk involves outbreaks of human Salmonella infections and hepatitis A. Three outbreaks of Salmonella infections associated with eating Roma tomatoes were detected in the United States and Canada in the summer of 2004 [ 363 ]. Between 2005 and 2006, multistate outbreaks of Salmonella infections were associated with tomatoes in restaurants in the United States [ 364 ]. In addition, three other hepatitis A outbreaks were associated with eating semi-dried tomatoes: in Australia in 2009 and in the Netherlands and in France in 2010 [ 365 , 367 , 374 ].

The health effects of carotenoids in tomatoes and associated supplements have been extensively discussed, especially lycopene [ 368 , 375 ]. Several studies have reported conflicting findings for the effect of lycopene supplementation on cardiovascular risk factors and cancer [ 375 , 376 ]. Lycopene supplementation is contra-indicated for patients on blood thinners and blood-pressure-lowering medications due to its anti-platelet effect [ 377 , 378 , 379 ] as it might increase the risks of bruising and bleeding. Recent studies have provided evidence that β-carotene supplements can increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers [ 73 ]. Beta-carotene supplements also increased the risk of other cancers [ 73 ]. These examples support that the artificial supplements of naturally occurring constituents of tomatoes are likely to work in synergy and that their beneficial properties should not be attributed to one compound alone, although further research would be required to establish these facts [ 376 , 380 , 381 , 382 ]. The examples above also provide evidence that most nutrients in fresh fruits and vegetables do not exhibit the same properties as their supplement counterparts that can cause adverse effects [ 73 , 182 , 375 , 380 , 381 , 382 ]. So far, research has not proven antioxidant supplements to be beneficial in preventing diseases [ 375 ].

Consequently, dietary guidelines recommend the regular consumption of fruits and vegetables as part of a balanced diet in order to reap the full benefits of antioxidants in tomatoes. However, one could argue that the bioavailability of beneficial compounds in tomato varies depending on processing and cooking methods, and that one would have to regularly consume tomato in various forms (raw, cooked, boiled, etc.) to access the full range of positive effects [ 73 , 380 , 381 , 382 , 383 , 384 , 385 ]. To illustrate, on one hand, thermal processing can significantly increase the bioavailability of carotenoids and phenolics in tomatoes [ 386 , 387 , 388 ]. In vitro studies have revealed that pulsed electric fields without heat can increase lycopene bioavailability by up to 40%, and when combining it with thermal treatment, by up to 238%, as compared to raw tomato juice [ 387 ]. On the other hand, thermal processing can adversely affect the content of other compounds in tomatoes, including water-soluble vitamins and minerals [ 383 , 384 , 385 ]. Similarly, one could debate whether nutrients from natural unprocessed foods are enough to meet the requirements of human daily intake and confer protective effects against certain diseases, especially when considering the environmental challenges faced by society such as soil erosion and nutrient depletion [ 389 , 390 ], and whether the development of novel genetic engineering and selective breeding techniques could be advantageous [ 126 , 391 , 392 , 393 , 394 ].

6. Conclusions

In conclusion, a tomato-rich diet is associated with a diverse range of health benefits, including anticancer properties, reducing the risk of cardiovascular, neurodegenerative, and bowel diseases, and improving skin health, exercise recovery, and immune response. Several factors, including cultivation, processing, the amount consumed, and bioavailability, are likely to influence the overall biological effects of tomatoes seen in the body. The majority of research to date has focused on the biological properties of lycopene. However, there are a number of other bioactive compounds in tomatoes that confer cardiovascular, anticancer, and skin health properties. The synergistic effects of all tomato constituents are likely to outweigh the benefits of tomato’s individual constituents, such as lycopene, and any health benefits of tomatoes should be considered in the wider context of a balanced and healthy diet.


We would like to thank Bethany Lawrence for designing Figure 1 on tomato constituents. Our special thanks are due to Matthew Tallis ( [email protected] ) for his advice on the tomato crop cultivation and valuable discussions related to this review.

Author Contributions

Conceptualisation and supervision, M.C., C.B.; draft preparation, E.J.C. (draft preparation of all sections except skin health, fertility, neurodegenerative diseases, and diabetes), A.T. (skin health, fertility, detrimental effects of tomatoes as well as contribution in the immune response section), and M.C. (neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes as well as contribution in the cardiovascular and anticancer properties sections). Review and editing, M.C., C.B., E.J.C., and A.T. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

Cressida Bowyer, Edward Collins, and Audrey Tsouza are supported by funding from the Interreg 2 Seas programme 2014–2020, co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund under subsidy contract No 2S03-046 Horti-BlueC. ‘Sustainable up-cycling of agro-, agrofood and fisheries residues in horticulture and agriculture as bioenergy, biochar and chitin-rich products’.

Institutional Review Board Statement

Informed consent statement, data availability statement, conflicts of interest.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.


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