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Literature Reviews

This guide provides detailed information about conducting a literature review.

Planning Your Literature Reviews

Writing a literature review will take time to gather and analyze the research relevant to your topic, so it is best to start early and give yourself enough time to gather and analyze your sources.  The process of writing a literature review usually covers the following steps:

  1. Define your Research question
  2. Plan your approach to your research and your review
  3. Search the Literature
  4. Analyze the material you’ve found
  5. Managing the results of your research
  6. Writing your Review

Credit: Marian Hampton, University of Pittsburgh Libraries, Literature Review, https://pitt.libguides.com/literaturereview

Developing Your Question Using PICO

PICO is an acronym for

  • Patient
  • Intervention
  • Comparison
  • Outcome

PICO is used to create a researchable question based on a clinical situation you have encountered.  Based on your PICO question, you will identify keywords and/or subject terms to use in database searches. 

You can use PICO to develop your clinical question.

P - Patient or population/disease: Which population are you studying? (Consider age, gender, ethnicity, group with a certain disorder, etc.)

I - Intervention, prognostic factor, or exposure: What do you want to do for the patient? (Consider therapy, exposure to a disease, risk behavior, prognostic factor, preventative measure, or diagnostic test)

C - Comparison or control: Are you comparing two interventions or variables? (Consider absence of disease, absence of risk factor, or use of placebo)

O - Outcome: What is the expected result or what do you hope to accomplish, improve or affect? (Consider disease incidence, accuracy of a diagnosis, rate of occurrence of adverse outcome, survival or mortality rates)What is the expected result or what do you hope to accomplish, improve or affect? (Consider disease incidence, accuracy of a diagnosis, rate of occurrence of adverse outcome, survival or mortality rates)

Questions to Ask

Some questions to think about as you develop your literature review:

  • What is known about the subject?
  • Are there any gaps in the knowledge of the subject?
  • Have areas of further study been identified by other researchers that you may want to consider?
  • Who are the significant research personalities in this area?
  • Is there consensus about the topic?
  • What aspects have generated significant debate on the topic?
  • What methods or problems were identified by others studying in the field and how might they impact your research?
  • What is the most productive methodology for your research based on the literature you have reviewed?
  • What is the current status of research in this area?
  • What sources of information or data were identified that might be useful to you?
  • How detailed? Will it be a review of ALL relevant material or will the scope be limited to more recent material, e.g., the last five years.
  • Are you focusing on methodological approaches; on theoretical issues; on qualitative or quantitative research?

Credit: Marian Hampton, University of Pittsburgh Libraries, Literature Review, https://pitt.libguides.com/literaturereview

Maps and Directions

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