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Speech Language Pathology: Research Tips

Links to databses and guidance on how to do research.

Primary and Secondary Literature

Primary Literature: 
Primary literature for scientists means this is the first publication of original research in journals, conference proceedings, magazines, and other sources.  Primary literature is the original work on which other works are based and usually shares new knowledge, findings, or results in its original form without interpretation by other writers.   Expect to see the following sections:

  • Literature review (what do we know, how does this reserach extend our knowledge)
  • Methods (population, materials, instruments, etc.)
  • Results (with charts, graphs, etc.)
  • Discussion

The abstract (a special kind of summary that tells exactly what the study found out) will probably include a phrase like “in this study” or something similar.  Articles will be very scholarly and appear in academic journals.

Secondary Literature:

Secondary literature examines, interprets and comments on the primary literature on a topic.  Often they are an extended literature review, but can also take the form of analysis and interpretation, but do not include any original research.image of review article

  • Review article:‚Äč  Author analyzes and summarizes all of the existing original research by others on a broad topic.  The title may include the phrase “literature review” or sometimes just “review.”    Articles will be scholarly and appear in academic journals.
  • News: ‚ÄčAuthor summarizes recent research for a general or lay audience.image of news article

PICO (T) - Framing the Question . . .

Evidence-based models use a process for framing a question, locating, assessing, evaluating, and repeating as needed. PICO (T) elements include: 





Time element or Type of Study (optional)


 Formulating a PICO question 

Frame the question: write out your information need in the form of a question, for example:

   Does hand washing among healthcare workers reduce hospital acquired infections? 

The question above includes the PICO elements:

P (Problem or Patient or Population): hospital acquired infection

I (Intervention or Indicator): hand washing

C (Comparison): no hand washing; other solution; masks

O (Outcome of interest): reduced infection

Adapted from:


Evidence-Based Practice


The goal of EBP is the integration of: (a) clinical expertise/expert opinion, (b) external scientific evidence, and (c) client/patient/caregiver perspectives to provide high-quality services reflecting the interests, values, needs, and choices of the individuals we serve. Conceptually, the trilateral principles forming the bases for EBP can be represented through a simple figure.

Key Steps in the EBP Process

American Speech Language Hearing Association (2012). Evidence Based Practice. Retrieved from: