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NUR 202: Research and Ethics: Types of Sources

Types of Sources

There are many kinds of articles published in Nursing and other health fields. The information on this page provides a list of the main types of publications and a brief description of primary and secondary sources in Nursing.

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Primary Sources in Nursing

Primary sources in Nursing report directly on the results of a study, clinical trial, or experiment. These sources tend to be written by the researcher who conducted the study.

Examples include:

  • pilot/prospective studies
  • dissertations or theses
  • cohort studies
  • survey research
  • lab notebooks
  • patient intervews
  • case studies
  • qualitative studies
  • clinical trials and  randomized clinical trials/RCTs
  • double blind method

Finding primary sources:

Secondary Sources in Nursing

Secondary sources in Nursing summarize, evaluate or comment on primary source studies. Secondary source authors discuss work done by others. Remember: you can use secondary sources to discover primary sources (for instance, you can mine the references list of a literature review for primary source articles.)

Examples include:

  • reviews of literature, systematic reviews, meta-analysis
  • newsletters and professional news sources
  • clinical practice guidelines & standards
  • clinical care notes
  • qualitative synthesis
  • patient education material
  • government & legal material 
  • entries in nursing or medical encyclopedias or other books

Finding secondary sources:

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