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The first stage of any new research project requires a thorough investigation of the existing literature on a topic, in order to find a gap in what we know. This process generally requires searching numerous scientific databases, producing a large number of relevant articles. The researcher then needs to read tens to hundreds of papers, then create a summary of the status quo on a topic. This process often takes a considerable amount of time.

The rate of growth in scientific literature is exponential. In the 1950s, the doubling time for all medical literature was 50 years. In 2020, it is predicted to be just 73 days. Given literature reviews can take months to write and, if they are later published, the publishing process also takes a number of months, by the time a literature review is published it can be already out of date.

Caption text: www.nlm.nih.gov/bsd/medline_cit_counts_yr_pub.html

Many literature reviews are done voluntarily. They are often needed to inform research proposals and grant applications, and thus the researcher has not yet been given any funding for the project. Many research projects are also undertaken by trainees and students who are not paid for their work. If a number of researchers around the world are considering the same topic, they...

With such an overwhelming amount of publications each year, it can be difficult for researchers to ensure that...

Most literature reviews are never published. Researchers who finish their work and move on to other projects...

If multiple researchers around the world are looking into the same topic, this workload can overlap...

If scientists want to be able to understand other projects, it is often too heavy of an undertaking for them to go through and read all the primary literature themselves.

Most importantly - the gaps...

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