This guide is designed to help you understand how academic scholarship is created and disseminated. 

Rating System for the Hierarchy of Evidence: Quantitative Questions

Level I: Evidence from a systematic review or meta-analysis of all relevant randomized controlled trials

Level II: Evidence obtained from well designed randomized controlled trials

Level III: Evidence obtained from well-designed controlled trials without randomization

Level IV: Evidence from well-designed case-control and cohort studies

Level V: Evidence from systematic reviews of descriptive and qualitative studies

Level VI: Evidence from single descriptive or qualitative studies

Level VII: Evidence from the opinion of authorities and/or reports of expert committees


Melnyk, B. M., & Fineout-Overholt, E. (2015). Evidence-based practice in nursing and healthcare: A guide to best practice (3rd ed.). Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer.

Where to Find Evidence

Systematic Research Review

  • Evidence-Based Medicine Reviews- Cochrane Library
  • PubMed

Clinical Practice Guidelines

Original Research Articles (access databases at

  • Academic Search Complete
  • BioMed Central
  • CINAHL Complete
  • Health Source: Nursing/Academic Edition
  • Journals @Ovid
  • Ovid Emcare
  • PLoS One
  • PsycINFO
  • PubMed
  • Science Direct (selected titles)
Checklist for Evaluating a Research Report

1. The Title

a. Is it clear and concise?

b. Does it promise no more than the study can provide?



2. The Problem

a. It is clearly stated?

b. Is it properly defined?

c. Is its significance recognized?

d. Are specific questions raised; hypotheses clearly stated?

e. Are assumptions and limitations stated?

f. Are important terms defined?

3. Review of Related Literature

a. Is it adequately covered?

b. Are important findings noted?

c. Is it well organized?

d. Is an effective summary provided?



4. Procedures Used

a. Is the research design described in detail?

b. Is it adequate?

c. Are the samples described?

d. Are relevant variables recognized?

e. Are appropriate controls provided?

f. Are data-gathering instruments appropriate?

g. Are validity and reliability established?

h. Is the statistical treatment appropriate?



5. Data Analysis

a. Is appropriate use made of tables and figures?

b. Is the textual discussion clear and concise?

c. Is the analysis of data relationships logical and perceptive?

d. Is the statistical analysis accurately interpreted?



6. Summary and Conclusions

a. Is the problem restated?

b. Are the procedures and findings concisely presented?

c. Is the analysis objective?

d. Are the findings and conclusions justified by the data presented and analyzed?



Steps in Analyzing a Research Article


  • Does it properly introduce the subject?
  • Does it clearly state the purpose of what is to follow?
  • Does it briefly state why this report is different from previous publications?


  • Is the test population clearly stated? Is it appropriate for the experiment? Should it be larger? more
  • comprehensive?
  • Is the control population clearly stated? Are all variables controlled? Should it be larger? more
  • comprehensive?
  • Are methods clearly described or referenced so the experiment could be repeated?
  • Are materials clearly described and when appropriate, manufacturers footnoted?
  • Are all statements and descriptions concerning the design of the test, control populations, materials, and methods included in this section?


  • Are results for all parts of the experimental design provided?
  • Are they clearly presented with supporting statistical analyses and/or charts and graphs when appropriate?
  • Are results straightforwardly presented without a discussion of why they occurred?
  • Are all statistical analyses appropriate for the situation and accurately performed?


  • Are all results discussed?
  • Are all conclusions based on sufficient data?
  • Are appropriate previous studies integrated into the discussion section?


  • Does the first sentence contain a clear statement of the purpose of the article (without starting....The purpose of this article is to.....)
  • Is the test population briefly described?
  • Does it conclude with a statement of the experiment’s conclusions?



Which Level of Evidence?

Click on the PDF for an enlarged version.

PDF iconLevels of Evidence Flow Chart

Writing a Scientific Paper

1. Schedule writing time

2. Start with an outline

Outline — Level 1
1. What is the topic of my paper?
2. Why is this topic important?
3. How could I formulate my hypothesis?
4. What are my results (include visuals)?
5. What is my major finding?


Outline — Level 2
1. Why is your research important?
2. What is known about the topic?
3. What are your hypotheses?
4. What are your objectives?

Materials and Methods
1. What materials did you use?
2. Who were the subjects of your study?
3. What was the design of your research?
4. What procedure did you follow?

1. What are your most significant results?
2. What are your supporting results?

Discussion and Conclusions
1. What are the studies major findings?
2. What is the significance/implication of the results?

3. Continue with drafts

Start with Material and Methods

The most important goal in this section is to be as explicit as possible by providing enough detail and references. The purpose of this section is to allow other researchers to evaluate and repeat your work (Kallestinova, 2011, p. 183).

Results Section

 "Objectively present your key findings in an orderly and logical sequence using illustrative materials and text" (Kallestinova, 2011, p. 185). 

Write the Introduction in 3 Moves

Move 1. Establish a research territory
a. Show that the general research area is important, central, interesting,
and problematic in some way;
b. Introduce and review items of previous research in the area.

Move 2. Find a niche
a. Indicate a gap in the previous research, or extend previous knowledge in some way.

Move 3. Occupy the niche
a. Outline purposes or state the nature of the present research;
b. List research questions or hypotheses;
c. Announce principle findings;
d. State the value of the present research;
e. Indicate the structure of the research paper (Kallestinova, 2011, p. 186).

Discussion of the Results in 3 Moves

Move 1. The study’s major findings
a. State the study’s major findings.
b. Explain the meaning and importance of your finding.
c. Consider alternative explanations of the findings.

Move 2. Research Context
a. Compare and contrast your findings with those of other published results.
b. Explain any discrepancies and unexpected findings.
c. State the limitations, weaknesses, and assumptions of your study.

Move 3. Closing the paper
a. Summarize the answers to the research questions.
b. Indicate the importance of the work by stating applications,
recommendations, and implications (Kallestinova, 2011, p. 187).

4. Choose the best working revision strategy

5. Submit


Kallestinova, E. D. (2011). How to write your first research paper. Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. 84(3), 181-190. Retrieved from

Paper Format

Scholarly/Peer-Reviewed articles usually follow the following format:


  • Titles are fairly long in scholarly articles and usually contains a sub-title.


  • A summary of the article.


  • The introduction places the research into context by discussion previous, relevant research in the area of study. May contain a literature review.


  • The methodology is an account of what exactly happened during the research and how the data was processed. It explains the methods in detail so that others can replicate it.


  • This is what exactly happened/resulted from the study without any commentary.  Often this section is full of graphs, charts, and tables.


  • The author places their findings/results into context and gives commentary. Usually, the author discusses why this study was significant.


  • These are the works the author referred to when discussing the previous, relevant research. (This is a great place to find more articles on your topic!)

Scholarly/Peer-Reviewed articles may also have these key features

  • Author 
    • The author's full name, credentials and the university/college/institution where they are employed is included. Contact information may also be included.
  • Journal
    • The journal in which the article is published usually has a plain title that refers to the academic discipline it covers. There are few ads and no glossy covers. Titles often have the word "journal" in the title. 
  • Funding
    • The author(s) should state where the funding for the research came from. 
  • Competing Interests
    • The author(s) should state if there are any personal conflicts with the research. (For example, the author owns part of the company producing the new pharmaceutical being studied.)
  • Jargon
    • Scholarly articles are written by people in the discipline to other people in that discipline.  They usually use words specific to the discipline.

Peer-Review Process

  1. The author submits the article to the peer-reviewed journal.
  2. The peer-review journal gives the article to peers of the author for review. (Peers are people with same education and research interests). 
  3. The reviewers read the article and note any errors, inconsistencies, etc. and returns article with notes to peer-review journal with recommendations to publish or not.
  4.  Peer-review journal rejects or accepts the article and notifies the author. 
  5. If accepted, the author may have to make various changes to the article based on the reviewer's notes and re-submit.
  6. The article is published in the peer-reviewed journal.

How to find Peer-Reviewed Articles

  • Use library databases. Look for the option "Scholarly/Peer Reviewed," "Refereed Journal'," "Adacemic Journal," "Research Article." "Original Research" or similar
  • Not everything in a peer-reviewed journal may actually be peer-reviewed. They may contain opinion articles as well. Always be on the lookout!
Designing a Poster

Poster presentations require research and design skills. Follow the tips below.

image from


Web Resources

Designing Research Posters from Purdue OWL

Designing Communications for a Poster Fair from Penn State

How to Create a Research Poster: Poster Basics from NYU Libraries 



How to create an effective poster presentation by Rose O. Sherman in American Nurse Today

A “How-To” Guide in Preparing Abstracts and Poster Presentations by Joseph I. Boullata and Carissa E. Mancuso in Nutrition in Clinical Practice 

Effective Poster Presentations from Dimensions by Vickie A Miracle in Critial Care Nursing




Annotated Bibliography

Annotated bibliographies describe and evaluate a set of resources. It is a list of resources on a topic to inform a reader of the relevance, accuracy and quality of the sources. 

 An entry in an annotated bibliography contains 3 pieces of information about a source: 

  • a citation (in APA or MLA format),
  • a summary and
  • your personal evaluation. 

The summary and evaluation (the annotation) is usually 100-200 words in length.

Follow the APA or MLA formmatting and style guides.

More information at: Annotated Bibliography from Purdue OWL