Introduction to Nursing Research

  • The ability to conduct research is becoming an ever important skill. The ultimate purpose of nursing is to provide high-quality patient care. Clinical practice without research is practice based on tradition without validation. Research is needed to evaluate the effectiveness of nursing treatment modalities, to determine the impact of nursing care on the health of the patients or to test out theory. Nursing practice is undergoing tremendous changes and challenges. In order to meet social challenges and needs, nursing practice must be research based (Lanuza,1999).
  • Research in nursing evolved predominantly when nursing education became a part of higher education and was seeking its own body of knowledge, different from that of medicine. Nursing’s first researchers were being prepared in fields other than nursing and have brought to nursing the various paradigms from those fields (Munhall, 2001).
  • Nursing research refers to the use of systematic, controlled, empirical, and critical investigation in attempting to discover or confirm facts that relate to specific problem or question about the practice of nursing. (Schotfetdt, 1977).
  • Research is a systematic enquiry, which is reported in a form that allows the research methods and outcomes to be accessible to others.
  • Scientific research is a systematic and objective attempt to provide answers to certain questions.
  • Nursing research is defined as the application of scientific inquiry to the phenomena of concern to nursing. The systematic investigation of patients and their health experience is the primary concern of nursing (Schotfetdt, 1977).
Characteristics of Research
A scientific research has some characteristics (Singh, 2002)
  • Research is always directed towards the solution of a problem.
  • Research is always based on empirical and observational evidence.
  • Research involves precise observation and accurate description.
  • Research emphasize to the development of theories, principles, and generalizations.
  • Research is characterized by systematic, objective and logical procedures.
  • Research is marked by patience, courage and unhurried activities.
  • Research requires that the researcher has full experience of the problem being studied.
  • Research is replicable.
  • Research uses systematic method of problem-solving.
  • In research the factors which are not under study are controlled.
  • Research requires full skill of writing report
Purpose of Nursing Research
  • Exploratory
    • to generate many ideas.
    • to develop tentative theories and conjectures
    • to formulate questions
    • to refine issues for future research.
    • my use a qualitative or quantitative approach
  • Discription
    • describes a process, mechanism or relationship
    • presents basic background information or a context.
    • often uses a survey research.
  • Analytical (or explanatory)
    • goes beyond simple description.
    • involves theory testing or elaboration of a theory.
    • lUsed mostly in basic research.
  • Evaluation
    • characterised by the focus on collecting data to ascertain the effects of some form of planned change. 
    • Used in applied research to evaluate a policy initiative or social programme to determine if it is working.
    • Can be small or large scale,  e.g.: effectiveness of a crime prevention programme in a local housing estate.
Importance of nursing research
The purpose of scientific research is to discover and develop an organized body of knowledge. There are several reasons for conducting research investigations, description of phenomena, exploration, or prediction of occurrence of a specific phenomenon. In nursing the purpose of research are
  • to build a body of nursing knowledge
  • to validate improvements in nursing practice
  • to make healthcare efficient and cost effective.


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