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Nursing Scholarly Writing & Evidence-Based Practice: EBP & Distinguishing Types of Articles

A guide to help you employ strategy in searching for, locating, and citing scholarly research

Research Articles

A research article describes an original study that the author(s) conducted themselves. The main focus of the article is to describe the theoretical approach, a hypothesis, methods to test the hypothesis, and results of the authors' own research experiment.

The anatomy of a research article includes the 7 sections below:

  • Title
  • Abstract
  • Introduction/Background
  • Method - is the study quantitative or qualitative? surveys, questionnaires, interviews, interventions (as in a clinical trial)
  • Sample & Setting - what is the population?
  • Results - what data was collected?
  • Discussion/Conclusion - what do the authors conclude from the results? what is the significance of the study's findings?

Qualitative Vs Quantitative

Reference: Melnyk, B. M., & Fineout-Overholt, E. (2011). Evidence-based practice in nursing &   healthcare: A guide to best practice (2nd ed.). Philadelphia: Wolters   Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Comparison of Quality Improvement, Evidence-Based Practice, & Research


Reference: Melnyk, B. M., & Fineout-Overholt, E. (2011). Evidence-based practice in nursing &   healthcare: A guide to best practice (2nd ed.). Philadelphia: Wolters   Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Review Articles


Review articles organize, synthesize, and critically evaluate research conducted by others.

Review articles are NOT original research articles. When an assignment requires you to find an original research article or a primary source, a review article is not what your instructor wants.

Review articles generally provide citations to the original primary research studies summarized in the article.

Content adapted from the Simmons University Library Libguide

Systematic Review

Systematic Review - A systematic review is conducted to answer specific, often narrow clinical questions. These questions are formulated according to the mnemonic PICO (Population, Intervention, Comparison, Outcomes). A systematic review involves the identification, selection, appraisal and synthesis of the best available evidence for clinical decision making. A properly conducted systematic review uses reproducible, preplanned strategies to reduce bias and instill rigor and pools of information from both published and unpublished sources. A quantitative systematic review uses statistical methods to combine results of multiple systems, and may or may not be a meta-analysis.

It is not unusual now to find more that one systematic review addressing the same or similar questions paving the way for meta-summary or meta-study, a systematic review of systematic review.

Like general review articles, systematic reviews are NOT original studies.

Integrative Review

Integrative Review - a specific review method that summarizes past empirical or theoretical literature to provide a more comprehensive understanding of a particular phenomenon or healthcare problem. The integrative review method is an approach that allows for the inclusion of diverse methodologies and has the potential to play a greater role in evidence-based practice for nursing. 

Whittemore & Knafl, 2005

Meta Analysis

Meta-analysis involves "quantitatively combing and integrating the findings on the multiple research studies on a particular topic. In other words, it is a method of integrating quantitative research findings statistically. In 1976, Glass coined the term "meta-analysis"; it indicates the analysis of analysis. A meta-analysis statistically merges the outcomes of various studies that hint at a research hypothesis that is shared. Just as individual studies summarize data collected from many participants in order to answer a specific research question (i.e. each participant is a separate datapoint in the analysis), a meta-analysis summarizes data from several individual studies that concern a specific research question (i.e. each study is a separate datapoint in the analysis.) Meta-analysis is considered the statistical analysis of a large amount of analyzed results from individual studies for the purpose of integrating the findings.                                                                    

                                                                                                                                                                     Suresh, 2014