Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

last modified 2019-05-31T10:01:48-04:00

Welcome to Mercer University Library Nursing Resource Guide

This guide serves as a starting point for your research in the field of nursing.  It covers many key resources and we hope you will find it informative.  Please provide suggestions for other resources so that we may better serve your research needs.





Mercer University / Georgia Baptist College of Nursing

Evidence-Based Practice

What is Evidence-Based Practice?

The practice of health care in which the practitioner systematically finds, appraises, and uses the most current and valid research findings as the basis for clinical decisions.  The term is sometimes used to denote evidence-based medicine specifically but can also include other specialities, such as evidence-based nursing, pharmacy, and dentistry.

Source  -  Moby's Medical Dictionary, 8th ed., 2009.

Highly Recommended Databases for Evidence-Based Practice

  • DynaMed
    Medical information database for Point-of-Care reference.
  • PubMed

Evidence-Based Practice Sites


Pyramid of Evidence


There is a range in quality of evidence available in the literature, with systematic reviews being the very highest quality.  As you move up the pyramid, the amount of literature decreases but its clinical relevance increases.


EBM Pyramid: (c) Copyright 2006 - 2011. Trustees of Dartmouth College and Yale University. All Rights Reserved. Produced by Jan Glover, Dave Izzo, Karen Odato, and Lei Wang.

Sources of research may be either pre-appraised summaries ie. filtered information or unfiltered primary literature.

systematic reviews or meta-analyses Cochrane Library or PubMed
critically-appraised topics Dynamed Plus
randomized controlled trials PubMed
cohort studies PubMed
case-controlled studies etc. PubMed
background info/expert opinion Books, National Guideline Clearinghouse

Study Designs


What type of question are you asking and which would be best to support the evidence? Choose the study design that supports the highest level of evidence.

Type of Question Suggested Type of Study or Methodology 
therapy randomized controlled trial (RCT)
diagnosis prospective, blind comparison to a gold standard
etiology/harm RCT> cohort > case control > case series
prognosis cohort study > case control > case series
quality improvement randomized controlled trial
quality of life qualitative study
cost analysis economic evaluation
clinical exam prospective, blind comparison to gold standard

Adapted from Duke University Medical Center Library's Evidence Based Medicine Resources and  Introduction to Evidence Based Practice 5th ed c.2010


Types of Study Designs

Case series
A report on a series of patients with an outcome of interest. No control group is involved.

Case-Control Study
Case-control studies begin with the outcomes and do not follow people over time. Researchers choose people with a particular result (the cases) and interview the groups or check their records to ascertain what different experiences they had. They compare the odds of having an experience with the outcome to the odds of having an experience without the outcome.

Cross-sectional study
The observation of a defined population at a single point in time or time interval. Exposure and outcome are determined simultaneously.

Cohort Study
A clinical research study in which people who presently have a certain condition or receive a particular treatment are followed over time and compared with another group of people who are not affected by the condition.

Controlled Clinical Trial
A type of clinical trial comparing the effectiveness of one medication or treatment with the effectiveness of another medication or treatment. In many controlled trials, the other treatment is a placebo (inactive substance) and is considered the "control."

Randomized Controlled Trial
A controlled clinical trial that randomly (by chance) assigns participants to two or more groups. There are various methods to randomize study participants to their groups.

Systematic Review
A summary of the clinical literature. A systematic review is a critical assessment and evaluation of all research studies that address a particular clinical issue. The researchers use an organized method of locating, assembling, and evaluating a body of literature on a particular topic using a set of specific criteria. A systematic review typically includes a description of the findings of the collection of research studies. The systematic review may also include a quantitative pooling of data, called a meta-analysis.

A way of combining data from many different research studies. A meta-analysis is a statistical process that combines the findings from individual studies.

Adapted from Study Designs. In NICHSR Introduction to Health Services Research: a Self-Study Course. and Glossary of EBM Terms.

Research Tips

Nursing Research Sites

Health Sciences Databases

Highly Recommended Picks

  • Cochrane Evidence-based medicine ...
  • Facts & Comparisons (Efacts) Drug information monographs on U.S. prescription and OTC drugs grouped by therapeutic category for ease of comparing products. Also includes orphan and investigational drugs. For non-commercial academic use only.
  • OVID Medline database of nearly 5,000 medical journals ...
  • PubMed National Library of Medicine (NLM) search engine for Medline databases ...

Nursing Research Journals

Selected Picks


Please see our tutorials guide and our Nursing pathfinder.