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BSN Year One & Two Nursing

What is Research?
  • The organized quest for new knowledge and better understanding (Stedman's Medical Dictionary, 28th ed)
  • Investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of facts, revision of accepted theories or laws in the light of new facts, or practical application of such new or revised theories or laws (Merriam-Webster, 2011)

Research can be categorized in many different ways:

What do all types of research have in common?

  • context: prior research on the topic, future directions
  • structured process: uses a scientific perspective to analyze a specific research question of interest and develop an approach for studying it
  • methodology: follows recognized procedures appropriate to the research area
  • objectivity: incorporates multiple perspectives yet remains unbiased


Evidence-Based Practice

Evidence-based Practice = Best Research Evidence + Clinical Expertise + Patient Values

Evidence Based Medicine is the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients. The practice of evidence based medicine means integrating individual clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research.

EBM InquiryEvidence-Based Nursing is a way of providing nursing care that is guided by the integration of the best available scientific knowledge with nursing expertise. This approach requires nurses to critically assess relevant scientific data or research evidence, and to implement high-quality interventions for their nursing practice. (NLM PubMed MeSH) ... research is one of the pillars of evidence-based practice.

Sackett, D. L., Rosenberg, W. M. C., Gray,  J. A. M., Haynes, R. B., & Richardson,  W. S. (1996). Evidence based medicine: what it is and what it isn't. British Medical Journal, 312 (7023): 71-2.

Image courtesy of Ebling Library, Health Sciences Learning Center (n.d.).

Qualitative vs. Quantitative Research

These are different research methods to acquire answers to social phenomena. You can differentiate between qualitative and quantitative research by looking at the outcomes and goals of the research and processes involved. 

Qualitative Research: Research that involves sensory research methods such as interviewing, listening or observing to gather and organize data into patterns or themes, observations (Maricopa College, n.d.). Examples include case studies, phenomenological studies, grounded theory, and ethnographies (Smith, 2017). More information on qualitative research. Qualitative research an be difficult to reproduce, such as observational studies. 

Quantitative Research: Research that intends to identify a relationship between one thing (an independent variable) and another (a dependent or outcome variable) in a given population. The two types of quantitative research methods are experiment or survey/descriptive. A descriptive research study usually establishes associations between variables. An experiment usually establishes causality. Methods usually involve measuring subjects and reporting results. Usually the study or article will outline how subjects were selected, how many subjects participated, and how a random sample was selected (Smith, 2017) . More information on quantitative research.

Mixed methods studies use both research approaches, producing both qualitative and quantitative data that can be used to provide insight and answer research questions.

McGill University provides an excellent comparison table, as well as a number of examples.Or see this chart for the differences between the two types of research.


How Can I Identify a Research Article?

Examine the Title of the Article

Sometimes the authors indicate the study type or design in the title of the article.


Examine the Abstract and/or Full Text Article 

Abstract: Look for key phrases such as the following.

"This study examines..."
"The purpose of this study was to..."
"The study's findings support..."
"We investigated..."
"The results of this study confirm..."

Examine the article for a structured outline such as the IMRAD format (see more details under tab Evaluating Sources: Types of Sources Primary)

Introduction (Background, Objective)
Methodology (Methods)
Analysis  (Conclusion)

Examine the Indexing of an Article in a Library Database   

Library bibliographic databases usually identify the publication type of a given article. Type of publication or subject headings can often include the type of research methodology used in the article. NOTE: there is a delay before an article is indexed in a databases, so this may not work with very recent articles.


Important note: Research articles are the primary means of developing new clinical knowledge, but ... vary in the level of detail given about the study. You may need to do your own evaluation.

Parts of a Research Article

Research articles tend to have 6 or 7 parts, each part is normally labeled.


Abstract This first part of the article, normally at the top and set apart from the rest of the article. The abstract describes what the article is about. 
Introduction The first part of the actual text, it explains why the researchers selected the topic to study and why it is important.
Literature Review  In this section the authors discuss research that is important to their study, this section can be long or short. Sometimes the introduction and literature review sections are combined.
Methods/ Data Analysis The methods portion of the article explains how the researchers actually conducted the research. Often it will include information on the participants and data collection methods used. They will also explain how the data was analyzed. This section may also include limitations of the research.
Results This is where the authors tell you what they found.
Discussion Here the authors discuss how their findings (results) tie back into the other research done in the field and why what they found is important. They may also give ideas for further research.
References This sections includes all the references to items cited within the body of the article.


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