PubMed search

Starting Your Literature Review

Literature Review Process

For this class you will complete a literature review on the topic of your choice. The information on this page will guide you to resources and help on:

  • Frame the research question
  • Searching the journal literature
  • Citation managers 

Framing the Research Question

The first part of any research is identifying the question you want to answer. This is very important because the more you understand your question the more likely you are to obtain relevant results. One way of building your search question starts with the patient and is known as PICO, which stands for:

  • P - Patient or Population or Problem/Disease

Who or what is the question about? This may include the primary problem, disease, or circumstances. 

  • I - Intervention, Exposure or Prognostic Factor

What main intervention/treatment are you considering? 

  • C - Comparison(s) (optional)

What alternative intervention are you considering, if any? For example, you might be comparing the efficacy of two medications or the accuracy of two diagnostic tests. Your clinical question does not have to always have a specific comparison.

  • O - Outcome(s)

What are you trying to accomplish or measure? What are you trying to do for the patient or problem? Examples might include managing a disease, alleviating symptoms, preventing a disease, etc.

Searching the Literature

For more information on searching PubMed for the dental literature see:

PubMed Help: for more information on searching PubMed.

Ovid Medline Help: for more information on searching Ovid Medline for dental topics. 

Organizing Your Literature

After your search the journal literature you will need to collect and organize your references. The easiest way to do this is by using a citation manager with MS Word. 

These tools allow you to:

  • Store citation information online
  • Format in-text citations for your papers
  • Create a bibliography 

Zotero is a free citations manager that will help you collect and organize your citations, save PDFs, insert citations into MS Word and Google Docs, and help you organize your research projects.

For more information:

NLM Citation Style

You will be using NLM Citation style for your research project. Even if you use a citation manager to organize your citations it is important to be familiar with NLM Citation Style. 

Citing Medicine, 2nd edition 

Citing Medicine, the NLM citation guide, assists authors in compiling lists of references.

Last Updated: Aug 24, 2021 11:43 AM