A Comprehensive Guide to Writing a Nursing Research Paper: A Step-by-step guide

Writing a nursing research paper is an essential skill for nursing students and professionals alike. It serves as a platform to contribute to the ever-expanding body of knowledge in the field, fostering evidence-based practice and promoting advancements in healthcare. This comprehensive guide aims to provide step-by-step instructions on how to craft a well-structured and impactful nursing research paper.

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The Research Paper Outline

Here are the steps to writing a research nursing paper

1. Choosing a Relevant Topic

Selecting a pertinent and engaging topic is the first crucial step in writing a nursing research paper. Consider the following factors when choosing a topic:

  • Personal Interest: Opt for a subject that sparks your interest or relates to your clinical experiences. For example, if you have a passion for pediatric nursing, you might choose a topic related to childhood obesity interventions.
  • Relevance: Ensure the topic addresses current issues or gaps in knowledge within the nursing field. This could involve exploring emerging healthcare technologies, examining disparities in healthcare access, or evaluating the effectiveness of nursing interventions in specific patient populations.
  • Feasibility: Assess the availability of resources and data needed to conduct a thorough investigation. Consider factors such as access to patient populations, research facilities, and funding opportunities when evaluating the feasibility of your chosen topic.

2. Conducting a Literature Review:

Before delving into your research, it is essential to review existing literature to identify gaps and establish the context for your study.

  • Utilize academic databases: Search platforms like PubMed, CINAHL, and others to gather relevant articles.
  • Critically analyze literature: Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of previous studies to identify areas for further exploration. Look for patterns, inconsistencies, or gaps in the existing research that your study can address.
  • Synthesize findings: Summarize key themes, methodologies, and gaps in the literature to guide your research question. This synthesis serves as the foundation for framing the significance of your study within the broader context of nursing research.

3. Formulating a Clear Research Question or Hypothesis:

A well-defined research question or hypothesis provides direction for your study and guides the development of your nursing research paper.

Clarity and specificity: Clearly state the problem you aim to address and be specific in your research question or hypothesis. For instance, if your topic revolves around improving patient adherence to medication regimens, your research question might be, “What factors influence medication adherence among patients with chronic illnesses?”

Align with literature: Ensure your research question builds upon existing knowledge and addresses identified gaps. Reference the findings from your literature review to demonstrate the relevance of your study and its potential contributions to the field.

4. Designing the Research Methodology:

Selecting an appropriate research methodology is crucial to gather valid and reliable data. Consider methodologies such as:

a. Quantitative or qualitative: Decide whether your study will involve quantitative measurements, qualitative analysis, or a combination of both. If your research question involves exploring patient experiences, qualitative methods such as interviews or focus groups may be appropriate.

b. Sampling: Define your target population and choose a representative sample size. Consider factors like age, gender, and medical history that align with your research objectives.

c. Data collection: Outline the methods and tools you will use to collect data, ensuring they align with your research question. Whether it’s surveys, interviews, observations, or a review of medical records, justify your choices based on the nature of your study.

5. Ethical Considerations:

Nursing research must adhere to ethical standards to protect participants and maintain the integrity of the study.

Informed consent: Clearly explain the study to participants and obtain their informed consent. Clearly outline the purpose, procedures, potential risks, and benefits of participation.

Confidentiality: Ensure the privacy and anonymity of participants throughout the research process. Safeguarding their identities and sensitive information is crucial to maintain trust and ethical standards.

6. Data Analysis and Interpretation:

Once data collection is complete, analyze the information using appropriate statistical or qualitative methods. a. Statistical analysis: Use statistical software to analyze quantitative data and draw meaningful conclusions. b. Thematic analysis: Identify themes and patterns in qualitative data, providing rich insights into your research question.

7. Writing the Nursing Research Paper:

Structure your paper following the typical components of a scientific research paper.

Title Page

In nursing research papers, we usually use APA or Harvard formats because they are scientific. The title page is super important because it helps your professor quickly understand your paper. If it’s not done well, you might lose marks. The title page, also called the cover page, should have your paper’s title, your names, course code and name, university names, your professor’s name, and the date of submission. Check out our examples to see how to set up this important part of your research paper.


The abstract is a short summary of your nursing research paper. It’s important, just like the title page, because it gives readers a quick overview. Keep it short, around 200-250 words, and focus on the main points. Don’t use acronyms or citations. Follow the guidelines for APA or Harvard formatting. It doesn’t count in the word limit unless the Rubric says it does. Include the purpose, contents, results, conclusions, and recommendations.


The introduction is the first part of your nursing research paper, taking up about 10% of the word count. Start with an interesting hook for your topic. Provide background information, talk about the nursing issue, and state the main aim or thesis. Clearly outline what your paper will cover, and if it’s a PICO research paper, introduce the PICOT question here.

Literature Review

This section explores what other nursing scholars have said about your thesis statement or topic. Look at various sources about nursing theory, frameworks, and concepts. Develop your paragraphs well, cite ideas, and approach this section critically. For example, if your paper is about managing obesity, you can discuss how the Theory of Planned Behavior is used in interventions. Show good research, organization, and writing skills.

Research Methodology

Here, explain the methods you used to collect data, like qualitative, quantitative, or mixed-methods approaches. For qualitative research in nursing, consider ethnography, historical research, phenomenology, symbiotic interactionism, or grounded theory. Quantitative research involves crunching numbers. If you used secondary sources, mention them and explain your inclusion/exclusion criteria. If it’s a statistical paper, detail your analyses and the tools used (like R or SPSS).

Results and Discussion

Present your findings in this section without making definitive statements. The results should suggest whether something is true or not, especially when testing hypotheses. Discuss your findings using concepts and information from your literature review. Mention any limitations and include graphs, tables, or concept maps.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Summarize the research problem, methodology, and findings. Restate the thesis differently from the introduction. This part should be about 10% of the total word count. Connect your findings to the literature review and suggest future research directions.


Organize your references alphabetically in A-Z format following APA or Harvard guidelines. Make sure each reference is scholarly and used in your paper. Include links if needed. Double-check everything to meet the Rubric requirements.

8. Revision and Peer Review:

Before submitting your nursing research paper, thoroughly review and revise the content for clarity, coherence, and accuracy. Share your draft with peers, mentors, or colleagues to gather constructive feedback. Address any feedback received and revise your paper for clarity, grammar, and style.

9. Submission and Publication:

Once satisfied with the final draft, submit your nursing research paper to a reputable journal or conference for peer review and potential publication.

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50 Potential Nursing Research Topics

  1. The impact of nurse-patient communication on patient satisfaction and outcomes.
  2. Exploring the effectiveness of telehealth in nursing care delivery.
  3. Assessing the prevalence and management of nurse burnout in different healthcare settings.
  4. The role of advanced practice nurses in improving primary care access and outcomes.
  5. Examining the effectiveness of simulation-based training in nursing education.
  6. Investigating the influence of cultural competence on patient care and health disparities.
  7. Exploring the use of artificial intelligence in nursing practice and patient care.
  8. Assessing the impact of nurse-led interventions on chronic disease management.
  9. Examining the challenges and opportunities of transitioning from paper to electronic health records in nursing.
  10. The role of mindfulness-based interventions in reducing stress among nursing professionals.
  11. Investigating the relationship between nurse staffing levels and patient outcomes.
  12. Assessing the effectiveness of pain management protocols in postoperative care.
  13. Exploring the experiences and challenges of male nurses in the nursing profession.
  14. The impact of continuing education on nursing practice and patient outcomes.
  15. Examining the role of nurses in promoting vaccination and preventing infectious diseases.
  16. Investigating the factors influencing nurse retention and turnover in healthcare organizations.
  17. The effectiveness of nursing interventions in managing patients with mental health disorders.
  18. Exploring the role of nurses in promoting healthy lifestyles and preventing chronic diseases.
  19. Assessing the implementation and outcomes of evidence-based practice in nursing.
  20. Investigating the ethical challenges in end-of-life care decision-making by nurses.
  21. The role of nursing in addressing the opioid epidemic and substance abuse.
  22. Examining the impact of nurse-led clinics on community health and access to care.
  23. Assessing the effectiveness of nurse-managed programs in improving maternal and child health.
  24. Exploring the perceptions and experiences of patients receiving care from nurse practitioners.
  25. Investigating the effectiveness of nurse-led interventions in preventing hospital-acquired infections.
  26. The impact of interprofessional collaboration on patient outcomes in healthcare.
  27. Examining the relationship between nurse leadership styles and organizational culture.
  28. Assessing the effectiveness of nursing interventions in reducing falls among elderly patients.
  29. Exploring the challenges and opportunities of nursing care in rural and underserved communities.
  30. Investigating the role of nursing in promoting mental health and well-being.
  31. The impact of technology on communication and collaboration among nursing teams.
  32. Assessing the knowledge and attitudes of nurses towards LGBTQ+ patients in healthcare.
  33. Examining the role of nursing in disaster preparedness and response.
  34. Investigating the effectiveness of nursing interventions in preventing pressure ulcers.
  35. Exploring the impact of nurse empowerment on patient safety and quality of care.
  36. Assessing the use of patient-centered care models in nursing practice.
  37. The role of nursing in addressing health disparities among diverse populations.
  38. Examining the impact of nurse-led health promotion programs in schools.
  39. Investigating the role of nurses in promoting ethical decision-making in healthcare.
  40. Assessing the effectiveness of nursing interventions in managing chronic pain.
  41. Exploring the impact of nurse-led education programs on patient outcomes.
  42. The role of nursing in addressing the mental health needs of pediatric patients.
  43. Examining the effectiveness of nurse-managed transitional care programs.
  44. Assessing the impact of cultural competence training on nursing practice.
  45. Investigating the relationship between nurse staffing ratios and medication errors.
  46. The role of nursing in promoting a culture of safety in healthcare organizations.
  47. Exploring the experiences of immigrant nurses in the healthcare workforce.
  48. Assessing the impact of nurse-led interventions in promoting healthy aging.
  49. Examining the effectiveness of nursing interventions in preventing hospital readmissions.
  50. Investigating the role of nursing in promoting health equity and social justice.