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Nursing Research Guide for NUR/NURC2241

Research guide for finding sources for Advanced Medical-Surgical Nursing

Video: How to Read a Scientific Article

This video from the USU Libraries gives you tips on how to break down scientific articles into easy to read sections. (2:11) Creative Commons Attribution license (reuse allowed) 

How to evaluate a research article

Not all research is good research. It's very important to critically evaluate the evidence you find. Consider the following when reviewing an article:

  • What is the article about?

    • Is this article relevant for your research paper topic?
    • Is the article qualitative OR quantitative research?
  • What is the purpose of the study?

    • Does this research add to the literature? Is it a bigger, longer, more substantial study?
    • Is the hypothesis clearly stated?
    • Does the article include a literature review and cover related studies?
  • How are the study methods described?

    • Who was studied? Age, sex, ethnicity?
    • Who was not studied?
    • What size was the population studied? (ex. N value)
    • How was the population studied? In a clinical or real setting?
    • How long was the study?
    • What materials were studied? (i.e. drugs or devices)
    • Who funded the study?
    • What type of study was conducted?
  • How are the study results described?

    • Do the results include statistical analysis?
    • Are all results discussed, including unexpected results?
    • Can the results be applied outside this study?

What's the difference? Quantiative Research vs. Qualitative Research

Research studies can fall into two categories, quantitative and qualitative. This chart highlights the differences between each type.

Quantitative Research

Qualitative Research

Observes effects of a problem

Problem studied can be accurately measured

Tests theory
Studies cause and effect
Includes statistical analysis

Can be experimental or non-experimental

Also known as empirical research

Describes a problem and gives it meaning
Problem studied is impossible to accurately or precisely measure
Develops theory
Studies meaning and discovery
Includes narrative analysis