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MXC Library Nursing Orientation

This guide is oriented towards nurses conducting research at Malcolm X College

Evidence-Based Practice Research Strategy

A research strategy is a plan of action that gives direction to your efforts, enabling you to conduct your research systematically. Evidence-based practice research consists of five steps.

Librarians can help with selecting a searchable question, finding the best evidence and appraising the evidence:​

  1. Ask a searchable clinical question​

  2. Find the best evidence to answer the question​

  3. Appraise the evidence​

  4. Apply the evidence with clinical expertise, taking the patient's wants/needs into consideration​

  5. Evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of the process​

Developing a Research Question or Choosing a Topic

  1. Identify your interests - What would you like to investigate? Begin with a broad search to determine what has been published and if your question is searchable. Utilize the PICO Strategy: Patient, Intervention, Control, Outcome to develop your question. 
  2. Background Research & Brainstorming -- You may want to start your background research with library resources, textbooks, or a Google Search. Accessing many different types of sources will help you narrow your topic. This will also allow you to develop a list of keywords that you will use to begin the research process. 

Using PICO

Use these PICO questions to help formulate your topic!

Patient Which population are you studying? Consider age, gender, specific populations and communities
Intervention What is the management, strategy, test or exposure you are researching?
Control is there a control or management strategy?
Outcome What is the expected result or what do you hope to accomplish or improve?


Think about your topic, what questions do you want to answer? Understanding this will help you find the right types of sources for your needs. 

Your Topic 

Suggested Research Design 

All clinical questions 

Level 1 – Meta analysis / systematic review 

Treatment, therapy, intervention, diagnosis, prevention (ex: which treatment is more effective?) 

Level 2 – Randomized controlled trial; controlled clinical trial 

Clinical conditions, over time (ex: How widespread is this condition in this community?) 

Level 3 – Cross-sectional study; cohort study 

Patients’ experiences and impacts 

Level 4 – Case study; Qualitative study 

Background Information (ex: Where can I get an overview or best practices for this topic?) 

Level 5 – Expert Opinion, commentary, and theory 

Search tip: You can filter your database searches to limit to articles of specific types, or enter the research design type (ex: cohort study) into your search box to find specific research designs.  


 Studies and Publication Types

When performing research in the health sciences, become familiar with the different types of research sources. 

  • Systematic Review or Meta-Analysis - A literature review that analyzes multiple research studies or papers. Designed to provide a complete exhaustive summary of current literature on a research question using statistical techniques​

  • Clinical Practice Guideline - recommendations that are based on evidence from a rigorous systematic review and synthesis of the published medical literature​

  • Randomized Controlled Trial - randomly selected scientific experiment with aims to reduce bias when testing a new treatment​

  • Cohort Studies - a type of medical research used to investigate the causes of disease, establishing links between risk factors and health outcomes​

 Appraise the Evidence

The evidence that supports the validity or truthfulness of the information is found primarily in the study methodology​

​Look for:​

  • Discussions of bias​

  • Methodologies such as randomization, blinding and follow-up of patients help ensure that the study results are not overly influenced by the investigators or the patients​