Chapter 6
Understanding the Literature Review
in Published Studies
Copyright © 2011 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.
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What Is a Literature Review?
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Summary of current empirical and theoretical
knowledge about particular practice problem
that provides a basis for the study conducted
Includes:
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Description of current knowledge base
Gaps in knowledge base
Contribution of present study to knowledge base
Copyright © 2011 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.
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Sources Included in a Literature
Review
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Theoretical literature: concept analyses,
theories, and models that support research
purpose
Empirical literature: relevant studies
Citation: a source quoted by the author
Periodical: a journal
Monograph: a book or published conference
proceedings
Thesis and dissertation: research by master’s
and doctoral degree students
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Types of Sources
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Primary sources are written by the person
who generated the published ideas.
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In research, written by the person(s) who
conducted the research
 In theory, written by the theorist(s) who developed
the theory
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Secondary sources paraphrase the works of
researchers and theorists.
Copyright © 2011 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.
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Purposes of Literature Review in
Quantitative Studies
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Direct the development and implementation
of a study
Cite relevant and current sources
Document background and significance of
study
Identify theoretical ideas guiding the building
of a body of knowledge for the selected area
of study
Copyright © 2011 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.
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Purpose of Literature Review in
Qualitative Studies (cont’d)
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Provides a basic understanding of the study
problem and evidence that the study
conducted was appropriate, based on current
knowledge of the problem
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Qualitative Research Methods and the
Literature Review
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Phenomenological
Grounded theory
Ethnographic
Historical
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Compare and combine
study findings with
literature
Use literature to explain,
support, and extend
research theory
Literature provides
background for research
Literature develops
research questions and is
source of data
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Guidelines for Literature Review
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Includes what is known and not known about
the topic
Includes the focus of the study
Sources must be current—published within
the past 5 years
Landmark studies may be included if
essential to the background of the problem
Copyright © 2011 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.
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Questions Guiding Critique of
Literature Review
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Are primary sources cited in the review?
Are the references current?
Are relevant studies identified and described?
Are relevant theories identified and
described?
Are relevant landmark studies described?
Are the studies critiqued?
Copyright © 2011 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.
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Questions Guiding Critique of
Literature Review (cont’d)
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Are sources paraphrased to promote the flow
of content?
Is the current knowledge about the research
problem described?
Does literature review identify gap(s) in
knowledge base that provides basis for
study?
Is the literature review clearly organized,
logically developed, and concise?
Copyright © 2011 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.
10
Library Sources
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Academic libraries—colleges and universities
Special libraries—hospitals, Sigma Theta Tau
Center for Nursing Scholarship
Interlibrary loan
Online search
Public libraries
Copyright © 2011 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.
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Selecting Databases
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Bibliographic database: compilation of
citations
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Citation: provides information necessary to locate
a reference
Full-text database: provides the entire text of
articles for your use
Commonly used databases in nursing
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CINAHL, Medline, OVID, EBSCOhost, GALE
Cengage, and Cambridge Scientific
Copyright © 2011 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.
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Keywords
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Major concepts or variables of a research
problem or topic used to search a database
May be single terms or phrase
Most databases have a thesaurus that can be
used to identify keywords.
Each keyword used should be listed in a
written search plan.
Copyright © 2011 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.
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Recording Search Information
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Name of database
Date of search
Exact search strategy used
Number of articles found
Percentage of relevant articles found
This information can be stored in a table.
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Performing Complex Searches
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Complex searches combine two or more
concepts, synonyms, or keywords in one
search using “and.”
Select keywords you have used to perform
simple searches.
Copyright © 2011 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.
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Limiting a Search
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Some searches will result in thousands of
hits.
To reduce number of hits while increasing the
relevance of citations, limit:
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To English language
The publication dates to recent years
To papers that are research
To full-text articles (this can be risky)
Copyright © 2011 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.
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Search Fields
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Search fields are the various pieces of information
provided about an article by the bibliographical
database.
To select search fields in CINAHL, select the Search
Fields option at top of the search page.
Of particular importance, selecting “cited reference”
will give you full references of all citations included in
each article. You may find “treasures” not included in
the computer search.
Copyright © 2011 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.
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Electronic Nursing Journals
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An increasing number of nursing journals publish only
in electronic form.
Expensive to publish and distribute a printed journal
Electronic journals targeted to small specialty
audiences
These journals have more current information
because articles are published within 3 to 4 months
of submission, whereas the time from submission to
publication in traditional journals is 1 to 2 years.
Copyright © 2011 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.
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Searching for Electronic Journals
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Because they are new, many electronic journals are
not yet in bibliographic databases.
Ingenta (www.ingenta.com) is a commercial web site
to search online journals from many disciplines.
A list of current electronic nursing journal web sites is
available in your text.
You may locate the electronic journal on the Internet
and then scan the titles of articles published in the
journal.
Copyright © 2011 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.
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Searching the Internet
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Search engines provide the means to search
the Internet.
Some are better than others. Google Scholar
is an excellent search engine.
University libraries provide a list of good
search engines.
You may find information on the Internet that
is useful to your topic.
Copyright © 2011 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.
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Assessing Web-Based Information
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Advantage: information is more current than
that found in books
Disadvantage: information is uneven in terms
of accuracy
There is no screening process for information
put on the Web.
It is important to check the source of any
information obtained on the Web to judge its
validity.
Copyright © 2011 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.
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Saving Search Results
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Save the results of each search on:
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Computer hard drive
Floppy disk
Zip file
CD
Record the file name of saved search results
on the search record.
Copyright © 2011 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.
22
Clarifying Evidence for Best Practice
through Literature Reviews
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Literature reviews can be used to define the state of
the science in a given area of practice.
When results are published, these reviews are
referred to as integrative reviews of literature.
The purpose is to identify, analyze, and synthesize
results from independent studies to determine current
knowledge in particular area.
Can use paraphrasing
Copyright © 2011 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.
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Development of Protocol or Critical
Pathway
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Integrative reviews are used to develop
protocols and critical pathways.
This process is often used by nursing
committees in health care facilities.
Studies are selected for inclusion based on
their quality and relationship to selected
practice problems.
Copyright © 2011 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.
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Synthesis of Sources
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Compile findings from all selected studies
Analyze and interpret clustered findings
Specify current state of research-based
knowledge
Copyright © 2011 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.
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Sources of Integrated Reviews
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Annual Review of Nursing Research
Journal: Evidence-Based Nursing
Sigma Theta Tau Online Journal of Nursing
Synthesis
The Cochrane Collaboration
(www.cochrane.org)
The Agency for Healthcare Research and
Quality (www.ahrq.gov)
Copyright © 2011 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.
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Meta-analyses
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Go beyond an integrated review
Include statistical analyses
Use summative statistical findings from
multiple published studies
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Meta-analyses (cont’d)
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Provide a global estimate of such things as
mean number of days of hospitalization
following particular procedure, or reduction in
number of hours in a care unit from a
particular nursing intervention
Results of meta-analyses are sometimes
referred to as benchmarking.
Copyright © 2011 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.
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Writing a Review of Literature
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Purposes
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Document current knowledge of selected topic
Indicate findings ready for use in practice
Outline
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Introduction
Empirical literature
Summary
Copyright © 2011 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.
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1. Introduction
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Indicates focus or purpose of review
Describes organization of sources
Indicates basis for ordering:
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Most important to least
Earliest to most recent
Categories
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2. Data-Based Literature
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Includes quality studies relevant to topic
For each study, purpose, sample, sample
size, design, and specific findings are
presented, using paraphrasing rather than
direct quotes.
Scholarly, but brief, critique of study’s
strengths and weaknesses
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Ethical Issues in Empirical Literature
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Content from studies must be presented
honestly and not distorted to support selected
use project.
Weaknesses of study need to be addressed,
but it is not necessary to be highly critical of a
researcher’s work.
Copyright © 2011 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.
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Ethical Issues in Empirical Literature
(cont’d)
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Criticism should focus on content, be related
to your project, and be neutral and scholarly
rather than negative and blaming.
Sources should be accurately documented.
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3. Summary
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Concise presentation of research knowledge
about selected topic—what is known and not
known
Judgment stating whether there is adequate
knowledge to direct change in clinical practice
Brief statement of proposed change in
practice
Copyright © 2011 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.
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Chapter 4 Literature Review