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NRS401: Nursing Research Utilization: Building the Grid

What is an Evidence Table?

Best Practice Evidence Tables are a clinical decision support tool, which present easily navigated layers of evidence in the context of specific clinical questions.  They provide the reader with information as to how reliable the evidence underpinning the clinical question is. Evidence Tables summarize high-quality systematic reviews and evidence-based studies with a focus to a specific, relevant and important clinical question and data on effect size for an intervention versus a comparison. - British Medical Journal, n.d. 


How is a Literature Review Different than an Academic Research Paper?

"A literature review is not an academic research paper, an annotated bibliography, or a report on original research. Unlike an academic research paper, the main focus of a literature review is not to develop a new argument. A literature review is an overview of a topic that shows the reader what research has been done on that subject. A literature review may build on an annotated bibliography, but it does more than just summarize each article; a literature review should compare and contrast the ideas each article contains, highlight interesting trends and inconsistencies within the research, and suggest future research that is needed on the topic."

Source: Nursing: Literature Review (NSU)

Why Outline??

What makes an outline important?  Why should I do one if it isn't even required?

  • Serves as a great brainstorming activity
  • Identifies main points of your argument
  • Helps you organize your research material
  • Helps you determine appropriate headings & subheadings for your paper
  • Show potential strengths and weaknesses in your argument
  • Helps make your writing flow

In other words, a well-structured detailed outline is a great bridge between the reading and understanding of your sources and the written draft of your paper. Without a good outline that gap is hard to bridge!

'Synthesizing the Literature'

What does 'synthesizing the literature' means? When an individual 'synthesizes the literature' that person compares themes, methods, findings, and inconsistencies across the sources found when researching. Doing this enables the person to show how the articles either differ or relate to one another. Analyzing and organizing different perspectives, ideas, and methods across different sources can be difficult. Using a synthesis matrix can help you organize the main concepts of each source so it's easier to compare the sources to each other.

Example of a synthesis matrix:

Some things to consider when 'synthesizing literature':

  • The main purpose of each article and how it relates to your topic
  • Methods and findings discussed in the article
  • Similarities and differences among the authors
  • Inconsistencies or controversies within the research

Source: Nursing: Literature Review (NSU)