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Nursing

Primary Research

Locating Primary Research Articles—see evidence based hierarchy pyramid to clarify.

A primary source in science is a document or record that reports on a study, experiment, trial or research project. Primary sources are usually written by the person(s) who conducted the research, study, or experiment. They include hypothesis, methodology, and results sections.

Primary Sources include:

    Pilot/prospective studies

    Cohort studies

    Survey research

    Case studies

    Lab notebooks

    Clinical trials and randomized clinical trials/RCTs

    Dissertations

Essentially, for clinical journal articles, primary sources will be reporting original research – which means a primary source journal article would not be a systematic review, meta-analysis, letter to the editor, etc.  Please refer to the Evidence Based Hierarchy Pyramid for clarification (see bottom three levels titled "unfiltered information"):

The evidence based medicine pyramid

There is not necessarily a straight-forward way as part of the database search to limit or filter to primary sources. Within CINAHL or other EBSCOhost resources, you could look in the Detailed Record for “research” articles. You will still have to use your judgment and read the full text article to determine whether it’s a primary source or not.

Screenshot of Publication Type designator in CINAHL database

 

You can also apply a “Research” limit from the CINAHL Advanced search screen.

 

Primary sources for nursing theory are documents written by the theorist. Secondary sources are those written by someone else about the theory.

Examples of primary sources include:

  • Books written by the theorist
  • Articles written by the theorist
  • A website maintained by the theorist containing the theorist's own words
  • An interview with the theorist containing the theorist's exact words
  • Other letters, reports, speeches or documents by the theorist

There are several ways to find this information.

1. To find a book authored by the theorist-->from our nursing guide, click on RESOURCES--> E-books

Enter title in search box or click on MORE SEARCH OPTIONS underneath to get to the advanced search screen:

screenshot of finding e-books from the Nursing Libguide

 Enter theorist's name, last name, first name and select the "author" drop down to the left. Don't forget to click SEARCH in lower left corner (not visible on screenshot).

screenshot of finding nursing e-books

You can replicate this search strategy in all the databases. Search the theorist's name as an author to find primary source material by the chosen theorist.

 

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources list, summarize, compare, and evaluate primary information and studies so as to draw conclusions on or present current state of knowledge in a discipline or subject. Sources may include a bibliography which may direct you back to the primary research reported in the article.

Secondary Sources include:

  • reviews, systematic reviews, meta-analysis
  • newsletters and professional news sources
  • practice guidelines & standards
  • clinical care notes
  • patient education Information
  • government & legal Information
  • monographs
  • entries in nursing or medical encyclopedias

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