From staff nurse to nurse consultant: Academic essays part 5: literature searching

12 November 2020
Volume 29 · Issue 20

Whether you are a pre-registration student or a senior staff nurse undertaking a postgraduate degree, writing academic essays for a university course is a skill, and like any of the more obvious clinically based nursing skills, it can be broken down into steps and developed with practice.

The previous article in this series emphasised the importance of spending about an hour exploring the question and identifying exactly what it is asking. Consider a standard type of question: ‘Discuss the importance of an holistic assessment of a newly diagnosed diabetic teenage boy admitted to a medical ward for assessment and insulin management.’ If this was a question you were answering, what key words would you want to use for a literature search? A number of inexperienced nurses miss the significance of the word ‘holistic’ in this sort of question and focus their literature search on the physical aspects of assessment. Some miss the importance of being asked to focus on the assessment stage of nursing and include literature on the treatment stage. Other important key words to include in this literature search would be ‘newly diagnosed’, ‘teenage boy’ and ‘insulin management’.

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