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Dental Hygiene Research Guide

Research Tools and Assistance


Peer-reviewed articles, statistics, images, and clinical resources

These tools will help you to either locate items in our collection (DOI Search, Journal Finder, LibKey Nomad) or to request a copy of an item we don't currently have access to (Interlibrary Loan).

Building a Better Search

To get the most out of your searches in library and public databases (or even Google!), it helps to know how to search using keywords and operators. Instead of trying to use full sentences, select the most important terms in your query (usually nouns or noun phrases) and join them to other terms in order to control the results you get. For example: if you're trying to learn about craniofacial surgery, you'll get the same or better results in PubMed using the phrase "craniofacial surgery" rather than "what is craniofacial surgery." Here are some ways to use and combine terms to get better results (links go to illustrative search results in PubMed):

Use quotation marks or brackets to search for exact phrases

Example: Use "craniofacial surgery" instead of craniofacial surgery. Notice that using quotation marks generates a much smaller and more focused set of results.

Use AND to narrow your search or combine searches

Example: Instead of doing two separate searches for "green tea" and "black tea", combine them: "green tea" AND "black tea" [Note: PubMed and some other databases assume that any terms you enter in the search box are joined by an AND unless you ask them to do otherwise]

Use OR to widen your search by exploring alternative terms

Example: Heart attacks can be described in different language depending on context and usage. You'll get different results searching for "heart attack" than you would searching for "myocardial infarction". Using OR, you can combine them to cover both options, like so: "heart attack" OR "myocardial infarction". This is also a good trick to use to cover variant spellings (UK vs US English), plurals, and other forms of words.

Use NOT to eliminate unwanted results

Example: Sometimes, your search will include results that aren't quite what you need. You can use NOT to get rid of them. To test this, first look at this search for "oral health", then compare it to the number of results and visible options in this search for "oral health" NOT pregnancy

The Threadbox below contains three basic instructional VoiceThreads for using PubMed. If your view in the box is too small, here are some individual links so you can open each one in a new window:

Module 1 (Introduction to PubMed)

Module 2 (Searching in PubMed with PICO Questions)

Module 3 (The MeSH and Journals Databases)

Evaluating Sources

Include the Peer Review table and the rest of the Peer Review FAQ here. Consider adding some guidance for where to look to see if something is peer reviewed. Pull code from RADT424 guide.

As a general rule, evidence is stronger if it is more generalizable and less vulnerable to bias. Generalizability is easier to get from the combined analysis of several studies than it is from any single study. Rigorously designed and controlled experimental studies are typically less vulnerable to bias than purely observational studies, which are in turn less vulnerable to bias than descriptive or qualitative studies. Expert opinion or analysis pieces, no matter how well-sourced and well-informed, are the weakest form of relevant evidence, as they do not lend themselves to generalization well and often reflect the biases, agendas, or prior assumptions of their authors.

Note that for the purpose of your work in Dental Hygiene at USI, animal and laboratory studies typically don't constitute usable evidence.


Evidence Source


Systematic reviews/meta-analyses of experimental studies; Evidence-based clinical practice guidelines


Experimental studies (randomized controlled trials)


Quasi-experimental studies (non-randomized interventions, pre/post studies)


Analytical observational studies (case-control and cohort studies)


Systematic reviews of descriptive/qualitative studies, cases, or cross-sectional studies


Individual descriptive or qualitative studies; case report/case series; cross-sectional studies


Expert opinion, analysis, editorials; narrative reviews


Animal and laboratory studies [this type of research only provides weak evidence for likely effects in living human subjects]



Source Types: Examples

The examples provided below all link out to freely available full-text articles. Look carefully at labels, tags, headers, at how articles are organized, and at the contents of methods sections (where available). Click the asterisks next to key terms to go to helpful definitions/explanations of the named source types.

1. Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses*


Systematic Review of RCTs

Systematic Review of Descriptive Studies

2. Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guidelines and Experimental/Quasi-Experimental Studies*

Evidence-based Clinical Practice Guideline

Randomized Controlled Trial

Crossover Study

3. Analytical Observational Studies*

Cohort Study

Case-Control Study

4. Descriptive* and Qualitative* Studies 

Case Report

Case Series

Cross-sectional Study

Qualitative Study

4. Other Types of Publication

Narrative Review



Lab Studies

In Vitro Study



Government and NGO Resources

AMA References

Basic Info

Author(s). Article title. Abbreviated Journal Title. Year;vol(issue#): pages of article. DOI.


1. Ganss C, Neutard L, von Hinckeldey J, Klimek J, Schlueter N. Efficacy of a tin/fluoride rinse: a randomized in situ trial on erosion. J Dent Res. 2010;89(11):1214-1218. doi:10.1177/0022034510375291


Take note that…

  1. The first word of the subtitle (portion of the title after the colon) is not capitalized. This differs from some other formatting styles.
  2. There is no comma between an author’s last name and initials. Nor is there a period after the initials. The period only occurs at the end of the list of authors, prior to the article title.
  3. Most – an overwhelming majority – of all scholarly articles accessed online will have a DOI (digital object identifier). While DOIs may appear in at least two different forms (with and without the https://, etc.), the 11th edition preference is to present the DOI as metadata rather than as a resolvable URL, like so: doi:10.1177/0022034510375291
  4. If there is no DOI, end the reference citation at the end of the article’s pages.
  5. Some journals that publish primarily online no longer use continuous, volume-and-issue spanning page numbers, instead preferring to use an article number. Use that article number, if provided, in the place where you would otherwise place page numbers.
  6. If the journal or index in which you find an article does not provide the official abbreviated journal title, you can look the journal up in the NLM Catalog (link below)

Basic Info

Author(s). Title of Dissertation. Type of document. University Name; Year. Access date [if accessed online]. URL [if accessed online]

*There are, as a rule, only two document types to choose from for this kind of material: Dissertation or Master's Thesis.


1. Austin LD. Oral Status of Residents of Long-term Care Facilities in Kentucky. Dissertation. University of Louisville; 2009.

2. McCurry CL. A Story-Centered Approach to AP English Literature, Curriculum, and Assessment. Master's thesis. University of New Orleans; 2020. Accessed May 27, 2022.

 Citing DynaMed topics is a bit like citing a chapter in an ebook called DynaMed that also happens to be a website/database, which results in a sort of oddball hybrid-looking citation.

Basic Info

Topic page title in sentence case. In: DynaMed [database online]. EBSCO Information Services. Updated [date]. Accessed [date]. URL


1. Aortic stenosis. In: DynaMed [database online]. EBSCO Information Services. Updated October 30, 2023. Accessed January 21, 2024. 


  1. While you may be referring to content from an individual tabbed subsection in a particular DynaMed topic, for citation purposes you should cite the topic as a whole and use the main topic URL, not the subsection URL.
  2. The date of the topic's latest update should appear at the top of the topic screen, just above the title.

Basic Info

Author(s). Title. Name of dept/bureau/etc.; Publication date/year. Additional publication numbering or series info. Accessed [date]. URL


Henry M, Mahathey A, Morrill T, Robinson A, Shivji A, Watt R; and Abt Associates. The 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress. Part 1: Point-in-Time Estimates of Homelessness. Office of Community Planning and Development, US Dept of Housing and Urban Development; 2018. Accessed January 11, 2019.


Format for organizational and government reports varies widely – especially if you wander into the world of numbered codes and resolutions. In these cases, use your best judgment, consult the AMA manual online (see Chapter 3, sections 3.13.2 and 3.15.5), or (if needed) reach out to a librarian for assistance.

Basic Info

Author(s). Title of page or document cited. Name of Website. Date of publication, if available. Updated date, if available. Accessed date. URL


1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Understanding drug use and addiction. National Institute on Drug Abuse website. Updated June 6, 2018. Accessed September 4, 2018.


Websites are tricky fun.

  • Author: Sometimes the author of a particular page or section of a site is an individual, other times it’s an organization. If you see individual names as authors somewhere on the page, list them. If not, default to the organization as author.
  • Title: You might notice that in this example the site’s author (the organization) is also the name of the website. When this happens, be sure to add the words “Website” to the website name. This way can avoid a citation that simply reads: “National Institute on Drug Abuse. National Institution on Drug Abuse. http://...”
  • Dates: Not all sites provide updated and published dates. If they are available, provide them. Always provide the date you accessed the site.

Think of these as a mashup of a journal and website citation.

Basic Info

Author. Title of article. Name of Newspaper. Date published. Section [if present]. Page numbers [if present]. Accesed date. URL


1. Wootson CR Jr. Dentists keep dying of this lung disease. The CDC can’t figure out why. The Washington Post. March 10, 2018. Accessed September 4, 2018.


Chances are you will most likely be citing online news sources. If this is the case, you will often not see a “section” or page numbers because news publishers reformat content for online environments and remove things like page numbers - which would mean nothing to online readers. However, if you do see this information online, include it! Additionally, if you are citing a print newspaper – or a PDF of an old print newspaper in a database, this is important information to include.


Basic Info

Author(s). Chapter title. In: Editor(s). Book Title. Edition. Publisher name; copyright year:pages of chapter or cited section. Accessed date [for books online]. URL [for books online/ebooks]

Print Book Example

1. Dillman DA, Smyth JD, Christian LM. Mixed-mode questionnaires and survey implementation. In: Internet, Phone, Mail, and Mixed-Mode Surveys: The Tailored Design Method. 4th Ed. Wiley; 2014:398-448.

eBook Example

2. Harrington S. Citing sources is a basic skill learned early on. In: Ball CE, Loewe DM, eds. Bad Ideas About Writing. West Virginia University Digital Publishing Institute; 2017:242-246.



1. If the author of the chapter cited is also the editor of the book, omit editor information.
2. To cite a book as a whole, rather than referring to an individual chapter or specific pages, do this: Author(s). Book Title. Edition. Publisher; year of publication. Accessed date (if online/ebook). URL (if online/ebook)
3. No edition number is needed for the first edition of a text. 

Basic Info

Author. Title or brief description.; year published. Accessed date. URL

Basic Info

Author/Presenter. Title of presentation. Type of presentation: audience/conference; Date of presentation. Accessed date, if working URL present and used [use this for conference presentations; skip for in-class lextures]. Location [or URL, if one is available that works for all viewers]


Coan LL. How people make decisions about their health: theories of health behaviors. Lecture delivered to: the Spring 2023 course of DTHY 318: Preventive Oral Health at the University of Southern Indiana; February 5, 2023. Evansville, IN.


Presentations made in class can be a little tricky; AMA is not a student-oriented style, and does not have a special format for class presentation citations. The example presented here is a local practice at USI, and does not represent any official position presented in the manual itself. The best place to look in the manual for assistance is Items Presented at a Meeting. For most of the presentations made in classes at USI, even if there are videos or slides shared in BlackBoard, you're better off omitting a URL (as you won't be able to provide one that works for all users).

For most serious research work done in CNHP programs at USI, Continuing Education materials are not appropriate sources. That said, occasionally a student may find them useful for background information. We offer two models here, depending on how the material in question is published. The models suggested here are local to USI -- the AMA Manual itself does not specifically address them.

Model 1: StatPearls and Similar Documents

Continuing education content published by a company called StatPearls frequently turns up in PubMed search results, and it is typically classified by its metadata in PubMed's database as a book. For the sake of simplicity, a slightly modified book/monograph model generally works best for StatPearls content. Typically, the publication date is actually the last date this content was updated. Other continuing education materials may also appear in this "book" format, but the most commonly seen in PubMed is published by StatPearls; obviously, if it's published by someone else but still functions like a book, replace "StatPearls" with the appropriate publication information.

Basic Info

Author(s). Document Title. StatPearls Publishing; publication date. Accessed date. URL [use the PubMed Bookshelf ID link, for the sake of convenient access to full text]


Mohensi M, Boniface MP, Graham C. Mononeucleosis. StatPearls Publishing; August 8, 2023. Accessed January 29, 2024. 


Model 2: NetCE Materials and Similar Documents

Companies like NetCE offer a wide range of continuing education courses for healthcare professionals. You may come across older/expired course content elsewhere, but the current, up to date material is only available from NetCE's own site. NetCE and other providers often offer course materials in both plain webpage and ebook formats. If you have NetCE content in ebook format (as a pdf or epub document, for example), use the book model we used for StatPearls above, with NetCE as the publisher and the listed course faculty (look toward the end of the document) as the authors. Treat the release date as the publication date.

Otherwise, cite NetCE like an authored webpage on a website:

Basic Info

Author(s). Title of page or document cited. Name of website/organization. Date of release. Updated date, if available. Accessed date. URL


Frey WE, Nichols M. Dental ethics: a brief review. NetCE. February 1, 2024. Accessed February 6, 2024.


Research and Instruction Librarian

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Laura Bernhardt
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