How to Write a Survey Paper: A stepwise Guide with Examples

How to Write a Survey Paper

How to Write a Survey Paper

Some of you may be wondering what a survey paper is. A survey paper contains the interpretation that has been drawn by the author after they have reviewed and analyzed various research papers that are centered on a specific topic. Those research papers should be already published.

How to Write a Survey Paper

Now that we have understood what a survey paper is, let us explore the various steps that have to be taken when coming up with a survey paper. As noted, a survey paper lists and analyzes the most recent research work in a particular area of study.

To write a good survey paper, you need to research the representative papers, come up with a title, a good abstract, and writing the introduction, the body, and conclusions that reflect the findings as well as the challenges of the study.

To do this, there is a challenge of research. As such, the first challenge is to find the most recent and appropriate research papers for the topic. The 9 steps below should be followed when writing a survey paper.

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Step 1: Selecting the representative papers

The first step when writing a survey paper is selecting the most relevant representative papers that are within the scope of your research and summarizing them effectively. As you will note, there can be a lot of research papers, and the space required to create a survey paper is limited.

Steps of writing a survey paper

As such, it can be challenging when trying to pick the key work within the scope of your study.

As an author of the survey paper, you will have to read the research papers’ abstracts and conclusions and pick the subset that captures your area of study.

To ensure that the selected research papers are appropriate or relevant, they should be recent, contain more citations, and be published in journals with a high reputation.

The research papers should not be less than 10.

Step 2: Coming up with an Appropriate Title

The second step is coming up with a captivating title that provides a clear summary of your paper’s contents. As such, the title should be clear and brief. To achieve this, the title should utilize active verbs rather than complex phrases that are based on nouns. 

A good title of your survey paper should contain between 10 and 12 words because a title with more words will divert the attention of the readers from the central point.

A longer title will also appear unfocused. Therefore, the title should have the keywords of your survey paper in such a way that it defines the study’s nature. 

Step 3: Creating an Abstract

Another important step to be taken when writing a survey paper is to create an abstract. The abstract acts as a summary of your survey paper.

It should provide a summary of the problem that has been investigated, the methods used, the results of the study, and the conclusion.

Abstracts summarize the most important contents of your survey paper in a single paragraph of between 200 and 300 words.

When creating an abstract, make sure that it contains or highlights the key points while convincing the readers or the target audience to continue reading the whole survey paper. Should always include an abstract in your survey paper.

Step 4: Listing Key Terms

While the keywords help the target audience or other researchers understand the field of the survey paper, the subfield, research issue, the topic, and so on, the main purpose of this section is to help readers or researchers locate your paper when they are doing searches on the topic.

Most of the databases, electronic search engines such as Google, and journal websites will utilize keywords when deciding whether to display the survey paper to interested readers and when this should be done.

With the proper keywords, your survey paper will be more searchable and it will be cited by more researchers because it can be easily located. 

Step 5: Writing the Introduction

The next step when writing a survey paper is to include a good introduction. A good introduction paragraph will explain to the target readers how the research problem has been tackled by the research papers that you have included in your paper.

The introduction should arouse the readers’ interest in knowing more about the topic and the research domain. If they are interested, they will continue reading your survey paper.

Unlike the abstract, the introduction within a survey paper does not contain a very strict word limit. However, it should be concise because it introduces the paper’s topic, provides a broader context of the study, and gradually narrows the scope down to the research problem. 

Therefore, make sure that your introduction sets a scene and contextualizes your paper. It can begin with a historical narrative bringing the narrative to the present day and ending with a research question. Ensure that the very last sentence of your introduction is the thesis statement. 

Step 6: Providing the Approaches Used in the Survey Paper

This is a very important step in any survey paper. This is where you are required to provide the methodologies used to conduct your research or survey in a logical order.

You are required to logically move from one method to the next as you clearly define each approach at the beginning of every section.

To ensure that your readers are at par with you, you should share the motivation behind each methodology. This is achieved by giving a high-level summary of every approach and then narrowing it down to the specific approaches.

You should also demonstrate the applicability and the practicability of every approach used in the research, and the areas that need to be improved. You should graphically visualize at least one method used. 

Step 7: Writing About the Paper Surveys

This step should take the bulk of your survey paper because it is the point where you survey the papers you have selected. Here, you should decide what you are going to inform your readers about each research paper.

Therefore, it is important to first read the research papers in a manner that you can know what to inform your readers about them.

For each research paper, make sure that you tell your readers about their research direction. Also, ensure that you identify the algorithms or mathematical techniques the research papers rely on and whether they are application or theory papers. 

You should also state whether the selected research papers are an improvement on other works or they are a continuation of other works.

Then, state whether the research papers utilize simulations, theoretical proofs, real-life deployment, and so on. Finally, you should state the strengths and weaknesses of each research paper, authors’ claims, and assumptions. 

Step 8: Research Challenges

After surveying every research paper you have utilized, the next step is to state the challenges you encountered while conducting research. When writing a survey paper, you will always face various challenges.

Such challenges can be finding the best or most appropriate research papers, comparing them to determine their strengths, and so on.

Other challenges can arise from the research papers themselves. This can include their delivery of results. Some research papers will contain confusing data. 

Step 9: Coming up with a Conclusion

Finally, the conclusion should answer the questions that have been raised by your survey paper’s objectives and goals.

Though it should be interesting and captivating, it should still be presented academically. It should be objective and offer a final say concerning the survey’s subject. 

The conclusion should synthesize the results by proving their interpretation, propose the course of action as per the results, and offer solutions to the issues that have been identified.

The reader should be capable of understanding the whole survey paper by reading the conclusion. Therefore, ensure that your conclusion synthesizes your paper. 

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Tips When Writing a Good Survey Paper

The first tip in writing a good survey paper is to select the most appropriate and latest research papers that will be used in the paper. This is a very important tip because the survey paper will be completely based on them. Old research papers will render your survey paper useless.

Tips writing survey papers

Research papers that are not within the scope of your research or topic will also render the survey paper useless.

The second tip is to make sure that you come up with a concise topic that will summarize what your paper is about.

It is also very important to follow the appropriate format of a survey paper.

The format, after you have written your title, should be abstract, key terms, introduction, approaches or methodologies, conducting surveys for every paper used, research challenges, and finally the conclusion.

Another important tip is to utilize more than 10 research papers for the survey. Then can be even more than 20 depending on the scope of your study. The more the research papers used in your survey paper, the more professional and credible it will appear. 

It should be noted that a good survey paper will utilize research papers that are recent (not more than 5 years) and have more academic sources.

To increase the credibility of your survey paper, the research papers used should come from reputable journal sources or publications. In our guide to writing good research papers, we explained more about references. Check it out.

Also, note that the process of writing a survey paper is much different from that of writing an issue paper or doing opinion essays. Therefore, each step needs to relate to the survey.

15 Examples of Topics for Writing a Survey Paper

  1. Advances in leaf image analysis for bacterial disease detection
  2. A survey on the impact of social media among youths in the united states
  3. A Survey on leaf image analysis for bacterial disease detection
  4. Recent trends in the electric cars manufacturing industry
  5. Recent trends in perinatal care: Exploring the major causes of perinatal mortality
  6. Leaf image analysis for bacterial disease detection
  7. Advances in curriculum-based education: A survey on educational trends in sub-Saharan Africa
  8. Recent trends in environmental awareness campaigns in low-income countries
  9. A survey on COVID-19 pandemic impact on the united states economy
  10. Recent trends in the immunization approach taken by third world countries after the second and third wave of COVID-19 disease
  11. Advances in semiconductor manufacturing for BMW electronic cars
  12. A survey on the impact of 5-G connectivity among SMEs in Britain
  13. Recent trends in the space race: A survey of how the founders of Virgin Atlantic, Tesla, and Amazon are competing to dominate space travel 
  14. Advances in care for pressure ulcers: A survey on the impact of frequent automated turning on older immobile patients in Germany
  15. A survey on the impact of geopolitics on peace within the Middle East 
Josh Jasen
Josh Jasen
When not handling complex essays and academic writing tasks, Josh is busy advising students on how to pass assignments. In spare time, he loves playing football or walking with his dog around the park.

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