NURS 3215 Chapter 7: Finding and Reviewing Research evidence in the Literature

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Last updated: April 30, 2019

Define a literature review.
A written summary of the state of evidence on a research problem.

What is the primary purpose of a literature review?
-Integrate research evidence to sum up what is known and not known

What additional purposes do literature reviews have for quantitative studies? When is the literature review conducted for quantitative studies?
-Shape research questions-Suggest methods-Point to conceptual framework-Assistance with interpretation of findings-Conducted before collecting data

What additional purposes do literature reviews have for qualitative studies? When is the literature review conducted for qualitative studies?
-Ground theorists: begin collecting data before examining literature, then relate findings to theories-Phenomenonologists: undertake preliminary literature search at the outset of a study-Ethnographers: familiarize themselves with literature to help share their choice of cultural problem before going into the field

Where can a literature review be found in a study?
In the introduction, intertwined with the problem statement as part of the argument for the study

What are primary sources? When should they be used?
-Descriptions of studies written by the researchers who conducted them-Used when preparing a literature review

What are secondary sources? When should they be used?
-Descriptions of studies by someone other than the researcher who conducted them-Used as a place to start for a quick overview

Are literature reviews considered primary or secondary sources?

In addition to primary and secondary sources, what other references can be utilized?
Clinical anecdotes, Opinion articles, and Case reports can be used to broaden understanding of a problem, to demonstrate a need for research, or to describe aspects of clinical practice. However they do not address the central question of written reviews: what is the current state of evidence on this research problem, so their use is limited.

What is the first task to complete while conducting a literature review?
To formulate and refine primary and secondary questions

Once questions are developed, what is the next task to complete while conducting a literature review?
To devise a search strategy (select databases and identify key words), then search for, identify, and retrieve potential primary source materials.

When a search leads to multiple potential sources to be used while conducting a literature review, what should a researcher do next?
-Document search decisions and actions-Screen sources for relevance and appropriateness and read them-Discard irrelevant or inappropriate references

If a researcher finds that a source is reliable and appropriate for their literature review, what should he/she do next?
-Identify new references/new leads and document those search decisions and actions-Abstract and encode the information from the studies

Once relevant sources have been abstracted and encoded, what is the next step for conducting a literature review?
-Critique/evaluate the study-Analyzes and integrate information/ search for themes-Prepare synthesis/critical summary

Describe the ancestry approach/footnote chasing.
Citations/bibliography from relevant studies are used to track down earlier research (ancestors) on which the studies are based

Describe the descendancy approach.
Use a pivotal early study in citation indexes to find later studies (descendants) that cite the pivotal study

What does it mean to delimit a search?
To constrain a search, for example to a particular language or within a certain time frame

What kind of search features are available on an electronic bibliographic database?
-Restrict/expand search-Combine 2 searches-Save your search

What is a keyword?
A word or phrase that captures the key concepts in your question

What are the keywords in most quantitative studies?
Independent or dependent variables (I or O of PICO), and perhaps the population

What are the keywords in most qualitative studies?
The central phenomenon and the population

Explain subject headings.
Indexing systems have specific subject codes (aka subject headings) and a hierarchical organizational structure with subheadings.

Explain mapping.
A feature that allows you to search for topics using your own keywords rather than the exact subject heading used in the database. The software translates your keywords into the most plausible subject heading, and then retrieves citation records that have been coded with that subject heading.

What are the three ways to search for documents using an electronic database?
-Subject search-Textword search-Author search

How does a textword search work?
You search for a specific word in the text fields of the records (in the title and abstract)

What is a wildcard character?
A tool (typically * or $) that allows you to search for multiple words with the same root, which is typically inserted after a truncated root.

Give an example of using a wildcard character.
Searching nurs* would search for nurse, nurses, nursing

What is one way to force a textword search?
Use quotation marks around a phrase to yield citations in which the exact phrase appears in text fields

What are Boolean operators used for?
To combine, expand or restrict a search

Give examples of common boolean operators and explain how they work.
-And: instructs the computer to retrieve references in which two or more terms are present (ex diabetes AND obesity)-Or: instructs the computer to retrieve references containing any of 2+ terms separated by or (ex diabetes OR obesity)

What is the CINAHL database?
-Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature-Covers over 1 million references to hundreds of nursing and allied health journals, books, book chapters, and dissertations from 1982 to the present

What kind of information does the CINAHL database provide?
-Information for locating references (author, title, journal, year of publication, volume, page numbers)-Abstracts for most entries-Citations

What is the MEDLINE database?
-Developed by the US national library of medicine-Covers 5,000 nursing, biomedical, and health journals and has over 21 million records

What is MesH?
-Medical Subject Headings used by PubMed (medline database)-A controlled vocabulary which provides a consistent way to retrieve information that may use different terminology for the same concepts (links your keyword to other possible leads)

What must happen after a researcher identifies a relevant citation?
The reference must be screened for accessibility (how to get a copy) and relevance (done by reading the abstract), then organized in a manner that permits easy retrieval (ex. alphabetical filing).

What should be included while documenting a search?
-Databases searched-Keywords used-Limits instituted-Studies used to launch a descendancy search

Give 3 protocols to abstract and record information found while conducting a literary review.
-For simple reviews: make notes about key features and reviewed studies, base review on these notes-For complex reviews, 2 ways:1) Code characteristics of each study then record codes in a set of matrices2) Copy and paste each abstract and citation information into a word document, then create a miniprotocol at the bottom of each page for recording important information that you want to record consistently across tudies

What is important to identify while analyzing the information from the retrieved studies?
Detecting patterns and regularities (as well as inconsistencies) to identify themes (substantive, methodologic, generalizability)

What kind of questions are asked while identifying substantive themes?
What is the pattern of evidence? What findings predominate? How much evidence is there? How consistent and persuasive is the body of evidence? What gaps are there in the evidence?

What kind of questions are asked while identifying methodologic themes?
What methods have been used to address the question? What strategies have not been used? What are the major methodologic deficiencies and strengths?

What kind of questions are asked while identifying generalizability themes?
To what types of people or settings does the evidence apply? Do the findings vary for different types of people or setting?

List some organization tops for writing a literature review.
-Summarize information in a table with headings such as author, sample characteristics, design, and key findings-Work from an outline

Explain the characteristics of a well written literature review.
-Objective/unbiased (do not omit a study just because it conflicts with your idea)-Not too many quotations and not too many abstracts-Reveal current state of knowledge on a topic, not describe research that has been done-Use your own words-Use appropriate langues

Give examples of phrases that indicate the tentativeness of research results that are appropriate for a literature review.
-Several studies have found-Findings thus far suggest-The results are consistent with the conclusion that-Results from a landmark study imply that-There appears to be fairly strong evidence that

What questions should be asked while critiquing a literature review?
-Does the review seem thorough and up to date? Does it include major studies on the topic? Does it include recent research?-Does the review rely on appropriate materials (research reports/primary sources)?-Is the review merely a summary of existing work, or does it critically appraise and compare key studies? Does the review identify important gaps in the literature?-Is the review well organized? Is the development of ideas clear?-Does the review use appropriate language, suggesting the tentativeness of prior findings? Is the review objective? Does the author paraphrase, or is there an overreliance on quotes from the original sources?-If the review is in the introduction for a new study, does the review support the need for the study?-If it is a review designed to summarize evidence for clinical practice, does the review draw appropriate conclusions about practice implications?

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