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Evidence-based dental practice: searching the literature and writing a report

This guide will help you search and assess literature to support dental research questions.

Language as a Tool for Building an Argument

We use language to create an argument that flows logically, through the use of:

  • Key words and concepts.  In an evidence-based report, the key words are the elements of the question the report seeks to answer. They are repeated as necessary throughout the sections of the report. Do not vary these in an effort to give the reader variety—that only introduces possible confusion. The repetition of these key words and phrases acts as a series of ‘markers’ that move the reader through the sections of the argument.
  • Connectors: transitional words and phrases that establish relationships such as addition, contrast, comparison, causation. 

In an evidence-based practice report, the Introduction, Discussion and Conclusion sections advance arguments. The Methods and Results sections, however, are description—they describe how the search was carried out and what was found.  The following is an analysis of passages drawn from the Introduction, Discussion and Conclusions of two evidence-based practice reports,  Leake, Main, and Rolland (2001) and Peressini (2003), showing how the arguments are structured: