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.
- Understanding Research Study DesignsIn order to find the best possible evidence, it helps to understand the basic designs of research studies. The following basic definitions and examples of clinical research designs follow the “levels of evidence.”
- Tutorial: Researching & writing a literature reviewUnderstand the purpose of a literature review and the procedure for conducting one.
Searching the Literature
- PubMedSearches MEDLINE, which is the primary source of journal articles for the health sciences (fields of medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, public health, health care systems, and basic sciences). Coverage is from the 1940s to the present. View this tutorial to learn how to go from a general idea to a very precise set of results of journal articles and scholarly materials.
For more information on searching PubMed for the dental literature see:
PubMed Help: for more information on searching PubMed.
- Ovid MEDLINESearches MEDLINE, which is the primary source of journal articles for the health sciences (fields of medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, public health, health care systems, and basic sciences). Ovid MEDLINE is optimized for advanced literature searches. Coverage is from the 1940s to the present.
Ovid Medline Help: for more information on searching Ovid Medline for dental topics.
- CINAHL (Nursing & Allied Health)Covers nursing and allied health journal articles, book chapters, and dissertations, as well as providing summarized evidence-based resources such as care sheets and quick lessons.
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, the NLM citation guide, assists authors in compiling lists of references.
- Plagiarism...and How to Avoid ItSlide deck illustrates what is and what isn't plagiarism.