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Physician Assistant Studies

Resources of interest to physician assistant students for didactic courses, clinical rotations, and scholarly projects. Resources for general academic and life success are included.

Scholarly Project

The Program will provide you and your advisor with  more information about the scholarly project process and expectations.  This section of the PA LibGuide will provide you with links to other resources.  If you have any questions about these resources, contact me at

If you would like to make an appointment with me to talk about literature searching, using EndNote, or structuring or formatting the scholarly project, make an appointment with me:

Local Resources

Campus Support

Important EndNote links:

Start Strong

Formulating Your Research Question

One of the more challenging parts of the project can be identifying a research question with the right scope: not too broad, not too narrow. Here are some resources to guide you. Most are coming from non-healthcare disciplines, but the information is relevant to the scholarly project process.

It is likely that your research question will change slightly as you begin exploring the literature on the topic. That's expected. Make sure to get your advisor's approval as your question changes.

Keeping a Research Journal

One of the most important things you can to help you with your scholarly project is to keep a research journal. A research journal is a document - print or electronic - where you take notes about your project: ideas, databases searched, search terms searched, new terms to search later, questions for yourself or your advisor, alternative ways to proceed and how you chose to proceed, reports on progress, challenges and how you overcame them, etc.  This is important as documentation of your process and it can also help you clarify in your mind what you are doing and where you are going.

Keeping Your Literature Organized

Another challenging part of the scholarly project is keeping your literature organized. To keep your articles organized, use EndNote (link PDF files to the reference) or if you are keeping print copies, a three-ring binder.  You want to be able to find the full-text of the article quickly.

Another piece of this is keeping the intellectual content of the literature organized (as a bonus, these techniques will also help you organize your thoughts about what you are reading.

Reading journals. Similar to the research journal, a reading journal is a place to write down thoughts about the literature that you read, what questions you have about the study, consistencies/conflicts with other studies, etc. Some people integrate their reading journal into their research journal. Do whatever works best for you (or what your advisor wants).

Literature Matrix/Map. A literature matrix (spreadsheet) or map (graphical representation) can help you pull out key ideas from each research article and can also be used to organize your literature into categories, which will be helpful when you start to write your outline for your project. Either one can also be helpful to share with your advisor.

You can also use a combination. You may use a spreadsheet to organize key pieces of information from each research article, then use a matrix to organize articles into categories. Interested in a low-tech way to make a literature map? Sticky notes are your friend.)

Doing Original Research?

Remember there are also excellent materials on the Didactic Courses >> Research and Statistics tab!

Searching the Literature

Remember that it is okay to struggle with your literature search - it can help you better understand your topic and  find more search terms - but don't struggle so long that you get frustrated and give up.  Jolene is here to help with identifying search terms as well as identifying the best research databases and how to search them effectively.

Appriasing the Literature

Writing and Citing