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Exploring literature search and analysis through the lens of AI


Literature reviews are a cornerstone of evidence-based dentistry, helping clinicians make well-informed decisions based on the best available evidence. They are also essential for any type of research as they help identify research problems and gaps and provide relevant background information to address them. Rapidly increasing numbers of publications are making this task challenging, especially for less experienced researchers, who may feel overwhelmed, confused, and anxious. Limited research has looked at the struggles students face to navigate and mentally organize these large quantities of research during the process of conducting a literature review1 and how AI tools for research can help. Amongst the challenges are i) screening the literature to identify publications of high quality and relevance, ii) efficient storage of literature, and iii) teamwork to compile and analyse the literature2. 

To address this growing challenge, we aim to explore the possibilities offered by AI technology by using the ResearchRabbit3 platform with two large cohorts of dental students who do literature searches in the first and second year of their studies. In recent years, several AI-based tools have been created to facilitate and accelerate literature reviews for research. Among these tools, ResearchRabbit presents unique features that offer a new way to explore, manage, and analyse the vast body of academic literature: 

  • It is free and aims to remain accessible and free4. 
  • The interface is visually appealing and user-friendly. 
  • It uses AI to recommend articles based on seed articles or keywords5. 
  • It creates engaging visualization maps based on chronology, authors, and citation connections to aid in literature analysis6. 
  • It enables users to store bibliographic collections and add comments. 
  • Users can share bibliographic collections and comments with collaborators, enabling co-creation. 
  • It integrates with popular reference management software, such as Mendeley, Zotero, and Endnote. 

The two projects leads have complementary expertise. Dr Miletich has a dental and scientific background, while Dr Srisontisuk has expertise in education. Dr Miletich is also the lead for the Student Selected Component 1 & 2 modules (SSC1 & SSC2), taking place in the Year 1 and 2 of the Dental programme, and which will be used in this study.   


In the first phase of the project, we will introduce the ResearchRabbit AI tool for the Year 2 students to use in their written reports. Focus groups will then be conducted to identify how students currently handle literature research and their experience with using ResearchRabbit. A workshop will follow where we will co-create with the Year 2 students new learning resources for the Year 1 students. The second phase oversees the implementation of the learning resources with the Year 1 students. Data collected through surveys and student narrated presentations will inform student’s use and perception of the ResarchRabbit AI tool and how it impacts the way students conduct literature reviews (see Timeline of Project below). 

The implementation of innovative learning activities that embed ResearchRabbit will develop Year 1 student AI-literacy, while data collected will identify the potentials and limitations that the technology brings. Furthermore, students will have an opportunity to lead in this project and be co-creators of the educational experience for their peers.  


Project status: Ongoing

Principal Investigator