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Research Papers in the Nursing Field

Posted below is a paper consisting of the criteria needed for writing a research paper in the Nursing field.  The purpose of this paper was to learn how writing by advanced practitioners in my field gets done.  I interviewed a professor and thoroughly researched this topic through many expert sources thus accomplishing the outcome of, “engaging in academic inquiry by using and evaluating a variety of sources.”  Draw your attention to the bolded words as these identify how I fulfilled this outcome.

As many high school students, myself included, progress into college, we wonder what exactly it is about the academics in college that is so different then our days in high school.  Most of us know that in science class you will do labs, in math you will do equations, in history you will learn of ancient times, and in foreign language you will learn grammar, vocabulary, etc., but what about English?  I, for one, was extremely worried about entering my writing and research class on the first day.  I didn’t know if the teacher expected me to come to class knowing how to write a college paper, or even more, a paper for my major.  I know what nursing, my intended major, means, but had absolutely no clue how to go about writing a paper in the field.  So, as the first day of class got closer and closer, I decided to find out everything I could about writing a research paper in the field of nursing.  Then, after the first day of class, I continued my research through interviewing nursing professors, and better investigating the topic at hand.  I finally came to the conclusion that writing a nursing research paper is “pretty dry, and to the point,” (Smith, 2012) as that makes it easier for other nurses and doctors to scan.

A nursing research paper has three general rules, “be precise, be objective, and remember your critical audience” (Tompkins, 2012).  Precision is very important in all types of writing, but especially while writing in the medical field. “Accurately reporting sequences of events, doctor’s orders, and patient concerns will protect you from scrutiny” (Tompkins, 2012).  Say you were to talk about a specific time with a patient; you may not state merely the basics.  One must go into vivid detail about the situation.  For example, if a nurse were to do a dressing change, he or she may not simply state, “Did dressing change” (Tompkins, 2012). A more accurate description might be: “Performed dressing change, cleaned wound with NS and gauze, applied calcium alginate, covered with ABD, secured with silk tape. Patient tolerated well” (Tompkins, 2012). 

This explanation is a lot more graphic and offers the other doctors or nurses a well-defined picture of the step-by-step procedure.  In addition to precision, impartiality is essential as well.  While writing a nursing research paper, one must remember to always “remove personal emotions and opinions from the writing” (Tompkins, 2012).  For instance, if you think a “patient is acting crazy,” (Tompkins, 2012) it may not be expressed like so; it would be considered bias.  A safer way to word it would be something like: “Patient pacing back and forth, breathing fast, clenching fists, yelling ‘Don’t touch me!’ repeatedly” (Tompkins, 2012). A statement like this would allow the reader to visualize what happened and “come to his or her own conclusions” (Tompkins, 2012).  Lastly, it is critical that a nurse remembers whom they are writing for.  “Litigation and auditing are a fact of life in the medical field, and chances are good that readers of your writing will be actively looking for mistakes or inconsistencies” (Tompkins, 2012).  Nurse’s main goal is to “validate evidence that’s already out there,” (Smith, 2012) rather than collect our own evidence. So the easiest way to fulfill this is with “evidence based tables,” (Smith, 2012) trustworthy charting and reporting.  Thus, instead of using the examples from earlier: “Did dressing change.” “Patient acting crazy.” (Tompkins, 2012) it would be more intelligent for one to use the more embellished version, as it would not be used against the nurse negatively in court.

Nursing papers, as all medical writing, must be cited and written in the APA format.  The paper should be “typed, double-spaced, on standard-sized paper, and with 1” margins on all sides.  The font should be clear, 12 point, and Times New Roman.” (Parsons, 2012).  Additionally, there should be a page header that includes the page numbers.  The major paper sections include:  “The Title Page, Abstract, Main Body, and References” (Parsons, 2012). Lastly, as stated previously, the paper should be cited in the APA format as well.  Citing in the APA format would look similar to this:

Contributors’ names (Last edited date). Title of resource. Retrieved from http://Web address for OWL resource

It is very similar to the MLA format; however it is used more for papers in the psychological department including, but not limited to: “education, social work, nursing, business, and many other behavioral and social sciences” (Lily, 2012).  The American Psychological Association founded this citation in order to make “Standardized papers easier to read, understand, compare, and study. Since researchers often build upon past studies,” (Lily, 2012) having such regulations make it a lot less complicated.

Just like most papers, nursing papers have a specific format one must follow.  There are many sections one must cover in a nursing research paper, and each section must be clearly labeled.  The first section is the “Introduction, where you define the problem at hand” (Smith, 2012).  Following the Introduction is the “Purpose, Literature Review, and Research Question” (Smith, 2012).  Subsequently is the “Research Methods which consist of:  IRB approvals, Data Collection Method, Samples, and Design” (Smith, 2012).  Following is the “Results and Discussion which include:  The Interpreted Results, and Limits to the Study” (Smith, 2012).  Then, to sum everything up is the “conclusion, which entails Nursing Implications for Practice, and the answer to the question with information backing it up” (Smtih, 2012). It is set up in this way as doctors and other nurses need the option to quickly glance at the paper and have a good idea of the situation at hand.  Sometimes they do not have much time before a procedure must be done.

Generally speaking, nurse’s ultimate goal while writing in the field is to have evidence to back up their work.  As any science based paper, it is of the utmost importance, that there is proof for every facet of your writing.  Otherwise, nursing papers have a very clear format that one must follow.  There are no opinions or creativity to be added, as it is especially routine and specific in nature.  It is purely following the guidelines, and using reliable data.


Lily, M. (2012, February 20). ehow education. Retrieved from http://www.ehow.com/facts_6115741_importance-apa-format-research-papers.html

Parsons, C. (2012). General apa guidelines. Purdue University. Retrieved from http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/

Smith, K. (2012, November 06). Interview by M Marcus [Audio Tape Recording]. Interview on nursing research paper’s format. Retrieved from https://blackboard.longwood.edu/

Tompkins, C., Tompkins, E., & Angeli, E. (2012, November 25). Owl purdue online writing lab. Retrieved from http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/922/01/

Image courtesy of Ablestock.com/Getty Image


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