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How To Write Your Nursing Dissertation



How To Write Your Nursing Dissertation

Alan Glasper (Editor), Colin Rees (Editor)

ISBN: 978-1-118-41070-7 August 2012 Wiley-Blackwell 312 Pages

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This innovative nursing textbook provides a clear guide to writing a winning dissertation. It contains advice and guidance for overcoming many of the difficulties students face in this process. Written by experts in the field, each chapter provides scenarios with  effective solutions and clear principles to follow to answer the issues raised.

The book guides you through the stages of finding and assessing literature to answer a clear dissertation question, and the practical skills of writing and structuring a successful dissertation.

Chapters include:

-          Starting your dissertation journey

-          Developing a successful dissertation question

-          Sourcing and accessing key literature

-          Essential research principles and processes

-          Critically appraising research articles

-          Implementing evidence-based health care in practice

-          Taking your dissertation further, including publications and conferences.

Accompanied by a website featuring a range of resources including an unabridged example of a completed dissertation, How to Write Your Nursing Dissertation is essential reading not just for nursing and healthcare students completing dissertations, but all students who need to develop their critical appraisal and assignment writing skills.

Related Resources

List of Contributors, xiii

Foreword by Professor Carl May, xvi

Preface, xviii

About the companion website, xix

Acknowledgements, xx

The scenarios, xxi

Section 1 Starting your dissertation journey, 1

1 Starting your dissertation journey, 3
Sheila Reading

What are dissertations? , 3

What are the features of a degree education? , 6

Features of a dissertation , 8

Planning your dissertation – essential considerations , 9

Completing your dissertation and gaining a good classification , 11

References, 12

Further reading , 13

2 Introduction to writing your evidence-based practice dissertation, 14
Alan Glasper and Colin Rees

Sample guidelines for students undertaking an undergraduate healthcare dissertation , 14

Typical learning outcomes for an undergraduate evidence-based practice dissertation , 15

The dissertation , 16

Guidelines for students undertaking an undergraduate evidence-based practice dissertation , 17

Typical postgraduate evidence-based practice dissertation module learning outcomes , 18

Conclusion, 22

3 Clinical effectiveness and evidence-based practice: background and history, 23
Alan Glasper and Colin Rees

Introduction , 23

Historical aspects of evidence-based practice , 24

The contribution of the nursing profession to evidence-based practice , 25

How is evidence sourced? , 26

Conclusion, 27

References, 27

4 What is evidence-based practice and clinical effectiveness?, 29
Andrée le May

Clinical effectiveness , 29

Evidence-based practice , 33

Making care more effective , 34

References, 38

5 The challenges of delivering practice based on best evidence (in primary, secondary and tertiary settings), 40
Andrée le May

An evidence base for practice , 40

Barriers to the use of research evidence in practice , 42

Encouraging the use of research evidence in practice , 45

Conclusion, 49

References, 49

Section 2 Sourcing and accessing evidence for your dissertation, 53

6 Sourcing the best evidence, 55
Paul Boagy, Pat Maier and Alan Glasper

Exploring and refining your question , 55

Searching for research articles , 59

Devising your search strategy , 62

Accessing journal literature , 65

The Cochrane Library , 66

Websites and other resources , 69

Support from your library service , 70

RCN information literacy competencies , 72

Conclusion, 75

References, 76

7 What is grey literature and where can it be found?, 77
Alan Glasper and Colin Rees

What is ‘grey literature’? , 77

Where can I find grey literature? , 78

Important websites , 79

What about Google scholar? , 79

References, 79

8 Harvard or Vancouver – getting it right all the time, 80
Alan Glasper and Colin Rees

Vancouver system, 81

Harvard system, 82

Use of computer referencing packages , 84

Conclusion, 85

9 Posing an evidence-based practice question: Using the PICO and SPICE models, 86
Alan Glasper and Colin Rees

What is the PICO model? , 86

Examples of PICO formulated questions , 88

What is the SPICE model? , 90

References, 92

Section 3 Developing your healthcare/evidence-based practice dissertation, 93

10 Managing your time wisely, 95
Alan Glasper and Colin Rees

A dissertation as a frame of mind , 96

Conclusion, 98

References, 100

11 Developing your study skills , 101
Alan Glasper and Colin Rees

Knowing yourself, 103

Being organised , 106

Organising things in terms of what goes where , 107

Consolidating your ideas and activities by talking to others about it , 107

Reference , 107

12 Getting the most from your supervisor , 108
Judith Lathlean

How to get started , 108

Agreeing a working pattern , 109

Anticipating and preventing problems , 109

Good planning is the essence , 109

Supervision at a distance , 110

Additional support , 111

Resources , 112

Section 4 Preparing to use research evidence in your dissertation, 113

13 Understanding quantitative research , 115
Alan Glasper and Colin Rees

Is it a quantitative study? , 115

Why quantitative? , 117

Types of quantitative studies , 117

Key elements in a quantitative study , 120

Strengths of quantitative studies , 120

Limitations , 124

Conclusion, 124

References, 124

14 Understanding qualitative research , 126
Alan Glasper and Colin Rees

Why qualitative? , 127

Types of qualitative studies , 128

Key elements in a qualitative study , 129

Strengths of qualitative studies , 131

Limitations , 132

Conclusion, 132

References, 133

Section 5 Critically appraising evidence, 135

15 Selecting and using appraisal tools: How to interrogate research papers , 137
Alan Glasper and Colin Rees

Introduction , 137

What is critical appraisal? What are critical appraisal tools?

Why is critical appraisal of published research important? What does critical appraisal mean to nurses and other healthcare professionals? , 138

What is the best critical appraisal tool to use? , 139

Commencing your critique , 140

Is an individual paper worth adding to the short list? Preparing your initial long short list , 140

Commencing your initial read and review of an empirical journal paper , 141

Points to consider about the paper(s) before using any critiquing tool , 143

Applying a critiquing framework tool of your choice to your selected papers , 145

Critiquing models, 147

Conclusion, 156

References, 157

16 Critically reviewing qualitative papers using a CASP critiquing tool, 158
Di Carpenter

Screening questions , 159

The CASP qualitative questions , 160

Data analysis , 163

Research findings, 163

The value of the research , 164

Reflection , 164

References, 165

17 Critically reviewing quantitative papers using a CASP critiquing tool , 166
Steve George

Question 1 ‘Did the study ask a clearly-focused question?’ , 167

Question 2 ‘Was this a randomised controlled trial (RCT) and was it appropriately so?’ , 168

Question 3 ‘Were participants appropriately allocated to intervention and control groups?’ , 171

Question 4 ‘Were participants, staff and study personnel ‘blind’ to participants study group?’ , 171

Question 5 ‘Were all of the participants who entered the trial accounted for at its conclusion?’ , 173

Question 6 ‘Were the participants in all groups followed up and data collected in the same way?’ , 173

Question 7 ‘Did the study have enough participants to minimise the play of chance?’ , 174

Question 8 ‘How are the results presented and what is the main result?’ , 174

Question 9 ‘How precise are these results?’ , 176

Question 10 ‘Were all important outcomes considered so the results can be applied?’ , 176

18 Critically reviewing a journal paper using the Parahoo model , 177
Kader Parahoo and Irene Heuter

Introduction , 177

Framework for appraisal , 178

Conclusion, 186

References, 186

19 Critically reviewing a journal paper using the Rees model , 187
Alan Glasper and Colin Rees

Conclusion, 192

References, 193

Section 6 How evidence-based healthcare is implemented in practice, 195

20 Using evidence in practice , 197
Tracey Harding, Lisa Harding and Alan Glasper

Introduction , 197

Applying research findings to practice: using and applying evidence in practice , 198

Potential barriers to the implementation of change , 205

Change management strategies , 209

Review and evaluation of effectiveness of change , 212

Leadership of change , 214

Using Government policy guidance to help implement evidence-based practice , 216

Can high impact nursing actions result in enhanced patient care? , 219

Conclusion, 223

References, 223

Section 7 Taking your dissertation further: disseminating evidence, knowledge transfer; writing as a professional skill, 227

21 Publishing your dissertation: In a journal or at a conference , 229
John Fowler and Colin Rees

Your dissertation is complete: what next? , 229

Motivation , 230

Conference abstract and presentation , 231

Writing a paper for publication , 235

What will you do with your dissertation? , 241

22 Reflecting on your dissertation journey , 242
Wendy Wigley

Reflection , 242

Frameworks for reflection , 244

Some final points on reflection , 248

References, 249

23 Building the architecture of your dissertation , 250
Alan Glasper and Colin Rees

Writing your evidence-based practice thesis , 250

Reference , 255

24 Glossary of common research and statistical terms , 256
Colin Rees and Peter Nicholls

Section 8 Bonus chapters (Website only), 273

25 Developing a public health evidence-based practice dissertation
Palo Almond

26 Using historical literature
Di Carpenter

27 Managing a learning difference
Michelle Cowen

28 Interpreting statistics
Peter Nicholls

29 Research governance in practice
Vikki Yule and Martina Prude

30 Developing mechanisms to change clinical practice in the light of evidence: A case study
Valerie Wilson

31 Clinical standards, audit and inspection
Alan Glasper and Colin Rees

Index, 275

There is a companion website for this book:

“Conclusion: The book addresses mainly nursing students who have been out of academic learning for a while. It might lead, however, down paths of thinking for the accomplished scholar toward new directions, and also to closer links between historical research and modern nursing. Therefore I recommend the book for nursing faculties, hospital staff libraries and students doing a Master's thesis.”  (European Association for the History of Nursing, 1 March 2013)

“The use of the scenarios through each chapter and section and the bonus chapters and resources available through the books online content are useful. It has a concise and informative glossary and the index is easy to navigate. I can’t find any limitations. This book could be a saviour when you are on the study rollercoaster.”  (Nursing Times, 4 July 2013)

“The book is organised in a logical way, with an excellent companion website.”  (Nursing Standard, 1 April 2013)


  • Part of the successful ‘How to’ series
  • A clear and straightforward guide to writing a successful dissertation
  • Writing dissertations is an essential component of every nursing course at both undergraduate and postgraduate level
  • One of the first books to focus on this topic from a nursing and healthcare perspective
  • Written by experienced experts in the field
  • Companion website featuring: downloadable information; links to further reading; PowerPoint presentations to support each chapter; a full and unabridged dissertation sample