Writing a Nursing Paper

Resources to Use When Writing a Nursing Paper

Nursing students are asked to write a variety of different papers. If you're a nursing student, at any one point you might be writing on a research paper, a case study, or an article critique, but whatever you're working on you'll probably be required to do outside research. Below you'll find a broad range of online resources that will help you get started no matter what kind of paper you're writing.

Peer-reviewed journals

As in most disciplines, the best place to look for research resources is in peer-reviewed journals. When scientists, researchers, and clinicians want to publish their findings, these publications are where they go. Peer-reviewed journals are the gold standard when it comes to research because everything that's published in them has been evaluated by professionals in the field both for the quality of the science and for relevance to the discipline.
There are thousands of journals out there covering everything from broad issues in medicine to particular diseases. Depending on the topic of your paper, you may want to focus your search on journals on a particular topic, or you may want to do a broader search on a database that includes a wide range of journals. Below is a list of journal databases that may be of help in your research paper.
  • PubMed is a journal database maintained by the National Institutes of Health, and it's the best place to look for articles from the life sciences and medical fields. You can search through thousands of journals, or you can select an option to search only in nursing journals.
  • MEDLINE is another large biomedical database. It can be searched using the PubMed cite.
  • Ebsco CINAHL is the Ebsco database that focuses on nursing and allied health research.

Basic informational websites

If you just need to find basic information about health topics, there are a number of reliable websites you can search. Remember, you never want to cite a personal website or a statistic you can't trace back to the original source.
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the main government body responsible for biomedical research. They maintain an informational website where you can find information on general health topics, NIH research, and clinical trials.
  • The NIH's National Institute of Nursing Research also has a website that highlights research and developments in nursing.
  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is a government agency that works to protect public health. Their website has information on a wide range of health topics.
  • Medline Plus has a website where you can search for medical terms as well as drugs and supplements.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) is the agency of the United Nations that promotes public health. Their website has resources that cover a range of international health issues.
  • Partners in Information Access for the Public Health Workforce is a collaboration of U.S. government agencies, public health organizations, and health science libraries. Their website has information on a wide range of health issues.
  • Most nursing journals and programs use the citation style of the American Psychological Association (APA). You can look on their website for style guides and help with formatting papers.

Professional societies

Professional organizations and societies can be a great place to research issues in the nursing field; the sites below contain information on professional issues such as certification and public policy issues. Most will also publish journals, conference proceedings, and newsletters, so if you are looking for information within a particular field it can be easier to start here than on a larger database. It's also good to be aware of these sites when you graduate, since most maintain job boards and other resources for professionals.

Sources for statistics

Often when you're working on research paper you'll need to cite demographical or epidemiological data. Fortunately, these sorts of statistics are easily available online.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services' data on aging, including census numbers, future projections, and the prevalence of health issues can be found on the Administration of Aging website.
  • The CDC makes statistical research data available on a searchable database at CDC WONDER (Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiological Research).
  • Childstats.gov is a government website that collects data on children's issues from 22 Federal agencies.
  • The U.S. Census publishes the County and City Data Book. It has information on issues like health, public services, and income for cities with populations over 25,000.
  • Fedstats.gov allows you search for statistics from over 100 Federal agencies at once.
  • The Global Health Observatory provides international statistics from the WHO.
  • Every year the CDC publishes a comprehensive report on the state of public health in the U.S.
  • The CDC also runs a website for the National Center for Health Statistics where you can easily search for health statistics by topic.
  • UNICEF's Statistics and Monitoring page provides information on mortality and health indicators for women and children by country.

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