Every PSP needs to include a short literature review of a few paragraphs. You can also choose to do a literature review as your entire PSP project. This page provides help for those who are considering or conducting a literature review as their PSP project. The Review Articles research guide will also include additional useful information for those conducting this project type.
Every PSP is presented as a poster. Each poster will include about 500 words of text and 3-5 images (figures, tables, diagrams, etc.). For a literature review poster, you need to provide full references for all materials cited in your poster. If there is space, you may include the references on the poster, or you can create a separate document.
Within this relatively limited word count, you need to explain why the topic you chose is important to explore, explain your search process, identify trends in the literature, and provide critical analysis and insight into your topic. Many poster authors choose to display the search process, display of trends, and critical analysis/insight in figures and reserve the text for the other portions.
How do I develop a topic?
Literature reviews are most useful when they respond to a theme in the literature. You cannot select a topic for a literature review without first looking at the literature. There needs to be a significant volume of papers that you can read that have some rationale or reason to be examined as a group.
First, identify a broad question or topic. Search for encyclopedia articles, textbook chapters, and literature reviews about this topic. Read a few sources and look for aspects or factors that interest you inside this broad topic. If your broad topic was "Counseling on new prescriptions," some aspects you might identify are: Some patients refuse counseling when offered. Some patients are not satisfied with counseling received. There are several competing methods for counseling. There are many locations in which counseling takes place-- via phone, via videochat, in a private office, at a counter in a retail store.
These smaller aspects or factors would be good candidate topics to consider for a literature review project. "What factors in the retail store, location available for counseling, and pharmacist demeanor can influence a patient to accept or refuse counseling?," "What methods are used to assess patient satisfaction with counseling and which is most reliable?," "Is counseling using active listening techniques more effective in producing patient satisfaction, when compared to traditional counseling?," or "What factors lead to patient satisfaction or dissatisfaction with counseling services provided at community pharmacies?" seem like they might be well-scoped for this length/depth of project.
These are examples of questions that might guide the process of searching, selecting, and identifying relevant studies for inclusion in a literature review project.
- There are many individual studies describing a specific disease/condition, specific treatment, specific process, or specific idea.
- Each study uses a specific methodology to investigate a specific question.
These samples are from teams outside of USC. The poster examples are provided for content only; they do not follow the USC PSP guidelines for formatting posters. You can view the Pharm D Scholarly Project website to see posters created by USC Pharm Ds in prior years.
How many papers do I need to find? How many papers do I need to cite?
Expect to find and read about twice as many materials as you cite in your final project. Most PSP Literature Review projects cite between 20-40 references.
I picked my topic, but can't find more than a few relevant articles.
Not every topic is appropriate for a literature review. There needs to be a significant amount of published information that has some commonalities. Before you talk to your mentor about changing your topic, consider:
I picked a really narrow topic, but I still get too many articles. How do I get fewer articles?
The goal of a literature review is to select articles that have some reason to be examined together. If you have an overwhelmingly large number of articles, it is a clue that your topic is too broad, and you need to narrow it down further. Using these ideas to narrow your topic might mean changing your search, by adding/removing keywords or filters; or, you might read abstracts to find studies that meet some criteria.