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Evidence Based Nursing: Research Tips

The Research Process

Steps for locating information for a research paper/project:

  1. Select a topic of interest and then state your topic as a question (see the PICO handout)
  2. Identify the key concepts and words that describe your question
  3. Locate and retrieve information sources that support the topic question; this includes using library catalogs to locate reference books, encyclopedias, bibliographies, handbooks, statistics, videos, and other media
  4. Use online databases to find journal articles, newspapers, statistics, and other kinds of supporting materials
  5. Find Internet resources; this may include government documents, images, graphs, data, maps and more
  6. Evaluate what you find; take detailed notes; summarize and quote source material accurately
  7. Cite your sources of information accurately: use a bibliographic management program such as EndNote to organize materials and write your paper with properly formatted citations

PICO - Ask a Clinical Question (PDF)

Selected Resources

Search Terms Explained

Use these tools and terms to help make your search more accurate.

Pyramid of Evidence

Role of the Librarian

As expert searchers, librarians have the skills and knowledge to make significant contributions to the team conducting a review of the literature. Librarians have knowledge of database subject content, understand the structure of the databases, effectively use the controlled vocabulary, and are skilled at developing the complex search strategies that are often required in order to do a systematic review of the literature.

As expert searchers, librarians are available to write the methods and results sections of the systematic review. In addition, librarians can help with the management of the references. Due to these significant contributions to the review, librarians should expect authorship status on the report of the research.

Helpful Tutorials

Types of Reviews

Systematic review "attempts to collate all empirical evidence that fits pre-specified eligibility criteria to answer a specific research question. It uses explicit, systematic methods that are selected with a view to minimizing bias, thus providing reliable findings from which conclusions can be drawn and decisions made.” (From: Liberati A, et al., 2009, BMJ)

Integrative literature review is a "form of research that reviews, critiques, and synthesizes representative literature on a topic in an integrated way such that new frameworks and perspectives on the topic are generated." (From Torraco, 2005, Human Resource Development Review 4:356)

Meta-analysis is "a quantitative method of combining the results of independent studies (usually drawn from the published literature) and synthesizing summaries and conclusions which may be used to evaluate therapeutic effectiveness, plan new studies, etc., with application chiefly in the areas of research and medicine." (From NLM-MeSH.)

Meta-synthesis "attempts to integrate results from a number of different but inter-related qualitative studies. The technique has an interpretive, rather than aggregating intent, in contrast to meta-analysis of quantitative studies." (From Walsh, et.al. 2005, Journal of Advanced Nursing 50(2): 204)

Observational studies is "a clinical study in which participants may receive diagnostic, therapeutic, or other types of interventions, but the investigator does not assign participants to specific interventions (as in an interventional study)." (From NLM-MeSH.)

Practice guidelines are "directions or principles presenting current or future rules of policy for assisting health care practitioners in patient care decisions regarding diagnosis, therapy, or related clinical circumstances. The guidelines may be developed by government agencies at any level, institutions, professional societies, governing boards, or by the convening of expert panels. The guidelines form a basis for the evaluation of all aspects of health care and delivery." (From NLM-MeSH)

Rapid Reviews "are literature reviews that use methods to accelerate or streamline traditional systematic review processes." (From Ganann, et.al,2010, Implementation Science 5:56 )

Review is "published materials which provide an examination of recent or current literature. Review articles can cover a wide range of subject matter at various levels of completeness and comprehensiveness based on analyses of literature that may include research findings. The review may reflect the state of the art. It also includes reviews as a literary form."(From NLM-MeSH.)