|Develop and discuss idea||Lab notebooks, research diaries, emails, grant proposals||Limited public access (invisible college, grey literature)|
|Present preliminary research||Conference papers, proceedings, preprints||Specialized indexes, abstracts in journals, conference Web sites|
|Report research||Technical reports, dissertations, theses, research reports||Dissertation abstracts, professional association Web sites|
|Publish research||Scholarly journal articles||Citation indexes and full text databases (e.g. MEDLINE, CINAHL, PyscInfo, Science Citation Index)|
|Popularize||Popular magazines, newspapers, Web sites||Media outlets|
|Generalize and formalize||Encyclopedias, textbooks, clinical tools (e.g. UpToDate, First Consult)||Library catalogs, bibliographies, subscription databases|
Research literature begins with an idea. A researcher may be curious about an aspect of her discipline or perhaps a clinician encounters a challenge in practice. Initial recorded documentation about the researcher’s investigation of the topic may appear only in lab journals or email correspondence. For this reason, preliminary research is the most difficult to locate. Documentation may appear in what is known as the “grey literature” or “invisible college”. Such literature is not uniformly indexed, so it is difficult to find. This type of literature may consist of conference papers, abstracts, newsletters, or internal reports.
You’ll notice from the illustration below that research tends to follow a sequential process during the publication and access cycle. However, the influence of media and technology has somewhat altered the typical pattern of information distribution. The research presented for academic scrutiny in a scholarly, peer-reviewed journal might also become simultaneously available in the popular media.
Eventually key research findings gain acceptance within the scientific community and are recognized globally. At this point the research becomes fully integrated in encyclopedias, textbooks, and clinical tools.
Table and text used with permission from the Evidence-Based Practice in the Health Sciences: Evidence-Based Dentistry Tutorial created by the Information Services Department of the Library of the Health Sciences-Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago. http://gollum.lib.uic.edu/dentistry/node/31