BACKGROUND: Medical professionals have access to a broad range of resources to address clinical information needs. While much attention is given to new sources of data such as those available on the internet, it is less clear how clinicians choose between peer-reviewed research literature and other publication-based sources. This analysis distinguishes between possible drivers of publication type preference (namely, practice setting, advanced training, professional development experiences). Dentists enrolled in the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network (PBRN) are the population for this study. Theories of human and intellectual capital and institutional logics theory are used to understand how advanced training and other clinical experiences may explain the choices that dentists make when faced with clinical questions. METHODS: An online questionnaire was implemented with general dentists in the US National Dental PBRN. A series of logistic and Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regression models were used to explain the use of peer-reviewed and other publications. Measures of knowledge-based human capital distinctions (advanced clinical training and research engagement, advanced professional status, personal motivation for professional advancement) were used to explain preferences for research literature as a clinical resource. RESULTS: General dentists with advanced training, as well as those with a skill advancement motivation, show a preference for peer-reviewed materials. General dentists who have been practicing longer tend to favor other dental publications, preferring those sources as a resource when faced with clinical challenges. Human capital and professional motivation distinguish the information preferences among general dentists. Further, these factors explain more variance in use of peer-reviewed materials than practice setting does. Few differences by demographic groups were evident. CONCLUSIONS: Results point to a distinct variation in the general dentistry professional community. Advanced training among general dentists, as well as the types of procedures typically conducted in their practice, distinguishes their information preferences from other general dentists, including those with more years of clinical experience.