How to Write a Survey Paper? A Step-by-Step Approach

Published : November 07, 2023

Updated : January 17, 2024

By | MyPremiumEssay 15 mins read

A survey paper is a type of academic writing that summarizes and synthesizes the existing research on a particular topic. Survey papers are typically longer than literature reviews, and they provide a more comprehensive overview of the research on a topic. Survey papers can also identify gaps in the research and suggest directions for future research.

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Survey papers are written for a variety of audiences, including researchers, students, and practitioners. They can be used to inform new research, to develop new curriculum, or to help practitioners stay up-to-date on the latest research.

To understand how to write a survey paper, let's take a closer look at the steps involved, as well as the format and some tips.

What is a Survey Paper?

A survey paper is a kind of academic or scholarly publication that offers a thorough and organized summary of current research, advancements, and knowledge on a given topic within a certain field or discipline. It can also be referred to as a review paper or survey article. A survey paper's main goals are to provide readers with an overview of the state of the art in a certain field, spot trends and new lines of inquiry, and compile the results of several studies in a systematic and logical way.

Why Survey Paper?

Various aspects of survey papers include:

  • 1 To arrange the literature: Several research articles will be written on any given subject or area. Researchers working on a certain domain or topic benefit from the organization of literature in that field.

  • 2 Examine the literature:One might study and perform a comparative analysis of the solutions that already exist for a given issue. This aids in identifying the research gap for the investigators.

  • 3 Determine the trends: Research patterns in specific fields can be examined and conclusions drawn. This aids in the researchers' comprehension of the future direction of that specific field of study.

How to Write a Survey Paper: Important Steps

Writing a survey paper can be a challenging but rewarding task. It involves summarizing a wide range of existing research to provide a comprehensive overview of a particular topic. Here are the important steps to write a survey paper:

Select a well- defined Topic

  • Choose a well-defined and relevant topic within your field of study.

  • Ensure that the topic has a sufficient body of existing research to make a comprehensive survey possible.

Define the Scope of Paper

  • Clearly define the scope of your survey paper.

  • Decide on the specific aspects, subtopics, or themes you want to cover within the chosen topic. This will help you maintain focus and prevent your paper from becoming overly broad.

Conduct a Thorough Literature Review

  • Gather a substantial number of research papers, articles, and other relevant sources on your chosen topic.

  • Use academic databases, libraries, and search engines to locate the literature.

  • Create a system for organizing and managing your references, such as using citation management software like EndNote or Zotero.

Structuring Your Survey Paper

  • Start with an introduction that explains the importance of the topic and provides a roadmap of what the reader can expect from the paper.

  • Create clear sections or subsections for different aspects of the topic. Organize the existing research logically within these sections.

Classify and Categorize the Research Content

  • Classify the existing research by categorizing it into themes, approaches, methodologies, or any other relevant criteria.

  • Create a taxonomy or framework to help readers understand the organization of the literature.

Provide a Critical Analysis

  • Summarize the key findings, methods, and contributions of the research papers you include.

  • Offer a critical analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the studies, highlighting their limitations and potential biases.

Identify Trends and Gaps in Research

  • Identify trends, common findings, and emerging research directions in the field.

  • Point out gaps in the literature where further research is needed.

Cite Sources Properly

Write Clearly and Coherently

  • Use clear and concise language to explain complex concepts.

  • Make sure your paper flows logically from one section to the next.

Provide a Conclusion

  • Summarize the main findings and contributions of your survey paper

  • Offer insights into the current state of the field and its future directions.

Include a Comprehensive Reference List

  • List all the sources you've referenced in a bibliography at the end of your paper.

  • Ensure that the references are properly formatted.

Seek Feedback

  • Before finalizing your paper, consider seeking feedback from peers, mentors, or advisors. They can provide valuable input and suggestions for improvement.

Submit for Publication

  • If your survey paper is intended for publication in an academic journal, follow the specific submission guidelines and requirements of that journal.

Survey Paper Format

The following section outlines the structure and components of a comprehensive survey paper.


  • Background information on the topic (e.g., definition of key terms, overview of the historical development of the field)

  • Research question (e.g., What are the most effective treatments for knee pain?)

  • Thesis statement (e.g., This paper will review the existing research on the treatment of knee pain and identify the most effective treatments based on the evidence.)

Literature review

  • Summary of existing research on the topic (e.g., different types of knee pain, causes of knee pain, current treatment options)

  • Identification of gaps in the research (e.g., need for more research on certain treatments or populations)


  • Description of the research methods used (e.g., systematic review, meta-analysis, qualitative analysis)

  • Explanation of how the data was collected and analyzed (e.g., search strategy, inclusion/exclusion criteria, data coding and analysis)


  • Presentation of the research findings (e.g., prevalence of knee pain, different types of treatment, effectiveness of different treatments)


  • Interpretation of the research findings (e.g., what the findings mean for patients and practitioners)

  • Implications of the research for future research and practice (e.g., need for more)


  • Summary of the main points of the paper

  • Restatement of the thesis statement

  • Recommendations for future research

Tips For Writing a Good Survey Paper

Here are some tips for writing a survey paper:

  • 1 Be sure to define all key terms and concepts in your paper.

  • 2 Discuss the limitations of your paper.

  • 3 Provide suggestions for future research.

  • 4 Write in a clear and concise style.

  • 5 Proofread your paper carefully before submitting it.

By following these steps, you can write a survey paper that is informative, well-organized, and well-argued.

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