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NUR 2510: Evidence-Based Nursing Practice: Literature Review

Performing a Literature Review

What is a literature review?

A literature review is a critical summary of research on a topic.  In other words, it explains the ways scholars have addressed a topic.  It is prepared to put a research problem in context or to summarize existing evidence.  Because it is a critical summary it should address useful approaches of research as well as problems with the research. Reminder: literature reviews are secondary sources.

Getting Started

  1. Define your research question
  2. Devise a search strategy:
    • Make a list of keywords that describe your research topic.  Include all key concepts and ideas contained within the research question.  Think of alternative phrases, broader terms, and narrower terms.
    • Identify the kinds of resources that will best suit your information requirements.  They may include books, reference books, journals, conference papers, dissertations, databases, and government publications.  You can use search limiters in CINAHL or MEDLINE to specify types of sources.

Locate Review Articles


Use the Advanced Search in CINAHL and use your keyword(s) and literature n5 review* shown in the above example.

This search looks for the words literature, review, reviewer, reviews, reviewing within 5 words of each other in any order.