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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, along with sample sources. Use these samples to decode the kind of source you have. I've also included a discussion of primary and secondary sources in Nursing. You can also email me (Julie) with any questions.

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

Secondary Sources in Nursing

Secondary sources in Nursing summarize, evaluate or comment on primary source studies. Secondary source authors discuss work done by others.

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

Hierarchy of Evidence: Types of Research & Sample Articles

Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial

Ross, M. J., & Berger, R. (1996). Effects of stress inoculation training on athletes' postsurgical pain and rehabilitation after orthopedic injury. Journal Of Consulting And Clinical Psychology, 64(2), 406-410.

Systematic Review

Lankhorst, N., Bierma-Zeinstra, S., & van Middelkoop, M. (2013). Factors associated with patellofemoral pain syndrome: a systematic review. British Journal Of Sports Medicine, 47(4), 193-206.

Cohort Design Study

Bradley, J. P., McClincy, M. P., Arner, J. W., & Tejwani, S. G. (2013). Arthroscopic Capsulolabral Reconstruction for Posterior Instability of the Shoulder: A Prospective Study of 200 Shoulders. The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 41(9), 2005–2014.

Observational Study

Garrison, J., Shanley, E., Thigpen, C., Hegedus, E., & Cook, C. (2011). Between-session changes predict overall perception of improvement but not functional improvement in patients with shoulder impingement syndrome seen for physical therapy: An observational study. Physiotherapy Theory & Practice, 27(2), 137-145.

Physiologic Study

Chatterjee, P., Banerjee, A. K., Majumdar, P. P., & Chatterjee, P. (2006). Changes in Physiological Profile of Indian Women Boxers During a Six Week Training Camp. International Journal Of Applied Sports Sciences, 18(2), 39-49.

Case Study or Case Series

Frizziero, A., Benedetti, M. G., Creta, D., Moio, A., Galletti, S., & Maffull, N. (2012). Painful os acromiale: Conservative management in a young swimmer athlete. Journal Of Sports Science & Medicine, 11(2), 352-356.

Anecdotal Evidence / Expert Opinion

McCrory, P. P., & Bell, S. S. (1999). Nerve Entrapment Syndromes as a Cause of Pain in the Hip, Groin and Buttock. Sports Medicine, 27(4), 261-274.

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