How to create a Nursing Research Paper

Last Updated: 03 March 2023

How to write a nursing research paper

Writing a nursing research paper is the same as writing any research paper in structure, source requirements, formatting, and style. A nursing research paper is typically based on evidence from scholarly nursing journal articles, nursing books, or other scholarly resources, primarily published within the last five years. It is scientific work that proves the academic writing and research prowess of a nursing student. Therefore, the choice of language, structuring, and data should be meticulous in earning you the best grade.

Our research paper cheat sheet covered some valuable hacks to use when writing a research paper. This guide is essentially no different, only that we are focusing on writing a nursing research paper this time.

Research is a nursing skill that helps you advance your knowledge, explore concepts, and improve your nurse practice. There are many reasons why nurses research: information literacy, evidence-based practice, and teaching information literacy. Besides, nursing research also influences current and future professional nursing practice.

In this sense, you will most likely write a research paper as you undertake your BSN, ADN, MSN, or DNP studies. Therefore, it is important that you know how to start and complete a nursing research paper that scores you an A-plus grade and leaves you knowledgeable.

That is pretty much what this comprehensive guide is about; we extend our guide to provide over 200 nursing research paper topics (in the next post to be posted later) that can inspire you or ones you can actually write about.

What is a nursing research paper?

A nursing research paper is a thesis-driven academic paper that is written on a specific nursing topic, either of the student?s choice or one assigned from class. Nursing students write nursing research papers by providing evidence supporting a specific topic.

Nurses undertaking their clinical practice, nursing education, evaluation, or nursing methodology can also write a nursing research paper. The process follows systematic research to explore given facts, apply nursing theories, and draw conclusions.

In terms of length, nursing research papers can be anything from 5 pages onwards.

Format and structure of a research paper

Here is a breakdown of how a nursing research paper should look like.

Title Page



Literature Review

Research Methodology

Results and Discussion

Conclusions and Recommendations


Tips for Writing a Nursing School Research Paper

Here are some valuable tips and tricks to use when writing a nursing research paper. In this cheat sheet for a nursing research paper, you?ll learn about the steps you need to take to ace your paper. It is the blueprint that our best writers use when writing nearly every research paper.

1. Read the research paper prompt and Rubric

It might sound obvious, but it is imperative to understand the basis upon which you are to write the paper from the point of view of an external marker, your professor, or your instructor/teacher before you commence to write the paper.

Skipping this step, which happens often, amounts to starting to climb a mountain without the right gear at hand. As a result, you will end up missing significant points or making minor omissions that can lower your grade.

Spending time to go over the instructions will help you:

If you realize that you do not understand the instructions, ask for clarification before selecting a topic or making much progress.

2. Select a nursing research topic you are confident with

One aspect that most nursing students ignore is choosing a topic that interests them or one they are satisfied with. Consequently, they struggle with developing a topic they chose for the sake of it.

To do it differently, if you are allowed to choose the topic, choose a topic on something you are interested in. For instance, if you are inclined towards geriatrics, choose topics such as fall or management of the aging population. Other potential topics include patient safety, nurse education, nurse privileges, nursing State laws and regulations, ethics, mental health treatment, healthcare informatics, and changes in healthcare.

As this is an advanced paper with a long-form structure, ensure that your nursing topic has available data or has been discussed in scholarly journals.

3. Plan your research paper

Nursing school research papers can either be analytical, argumentative, or expository. They are always written in the American Psychological Association (APA) format. To properly ace a nursing assignment, you should demonstrate wonderful mastery of knowledge, research capabilities, persuasive skills, and organization skills. You can only do so through adequate planning.

After receiving the assignment through the canvas, email, or whatever platform your institution uses, take time to familiarize yourself with the research paper instructions. Then, after knowing the topic and the required word count, spend time planning the paper. In most cases, this is where you draft the structure of your paper to determine the major sections and how to approach the issue.

4. Begin researching and writing early

With the research paper plan, do not wait until the last minute to write a nursing research paper; you will only increase your chances of failing. To succeed in writing a research paper on any topic, commence your research process early.

Skim through the scholarly nursing databases, find reliable sources, and sieve the information as necessary. As you do your research, you would have already or somehow, along the way, develop your thesis statement. You can then select the potential scholarly sources to use. Do not fear seeking information from Wikipedia or Gray search on Google. These sources help you build knowledge and understand concepts better, only that you are not to cite some of them while writing. The general sources allow you to familiarize yourself with your topic, find keywords that you can use in your research, and understand large amounts of information. However, the sources you use in your paper should be relevant, credible, and reliable.

5. Only use scholarly databases for your research

When writing a nursing research paper, it is important to stick to peer-reviewed journals published in the last 5 years for recency, relevance, and accuracy. In addition, write the research paper with a critical rather than descriptive approach.

You can use scholarly databases such as:

Where can Nursing Students find help when writing a research paper?

6. Organize your research

After selecting the potential sources, organize them in a folder and using citation management tools. Next, arrange the bibliography of your research paper with the information from step #1. The bibliography should meet the general paper requirements. You can also bookmark your resources on your web browser. Better yet, the citation management tools or the digital bibliography help you link the resources you chose. With the research organized, it is now time to begin working on your paper early enough to allow you time to read, understand, critique, and present ideas. First, however, you should write a nursing research paper thesis statement, which you might have formed while researching.

The outline should be a roadmap while writing your paper. It will aid you in presenting major points and sections and organizing the flow of your paper. If possible, have a schedule to complete your paper using the Pomodoro technique, where you finish sections and rest, then resume to complete other sections.

7. Manage your Citations using tools

Manage your citations using citation management tools such as

These tools can help you organize your database of citations that relate to your research. In addition, you can get the citation style right as they have various citation styles such as AMA, APA, ASA, or Harvard formats.

You can generate bibliographies and paste them into your research paper once you are done. Doing so can help you avoid deliberate plagiarism, which often happens when you write first then cite later. With the latter, you can easily misplace a citation. Besides, citing as you write helps you have a good flow of ideas and critically approach and present facts in your paper.

8. Have a well-thought-out thesis statement

Now that you have the research ready, knowing the scope, chosen a topic, and organized your research, it is high time you have a tentative central idea listed. Even when you are not arguing for or against anything, your paper must have a thesis or main idea.

We have always insisted on the value of a powerful thesis statement. It is not different when writing a nursing research paper. Let your thesis statement set a clear purpose for your paper. It should as well be definitive. Make sure that your research is thesis- and not source-driven.

9. Create a nursing research paper outline

Like you did with the bibliography, you create an outline as per the instructions of your assignment. Sometimes, you can be asked to turn in the outline first as part of the assignment. If this is the case, outline the example, guidelines, or requirements provided by the professor. However, if you are not required to turn in an outline, you make it to plan your paper well. It helps you build your research paper better.

Here, you should structure your paper but think critically about the scope of the paper. First, organize the paper into sections as we provided in the early stages of this guide.

Related Read: Psychology research paper topics for students.

10. Write the research paper

Finally, you actually need to write the paper. After taking some breaks, it is now time to start writing the paper. With an outline, you can begin it from top to bottom or choose sections randomly. When you start early, you might think you started sooner. Nevertheless, it helps you create a clear, strong, and interesting nursing research paper.

Avoid being a perfectionist as you write; make it straightforward. The time will come when you can perfect your nursing research paper later.

At this point, do not even bother about perfect grammar, punctuation, or titles. However, before writing, skim through your research but avoid writing directly from your research. Instead, read the sources, internalize, write in your own words (paraphrase), summarize, or quote.

As you write the paper, include the relevant citations to the quotes, paraphrased parts, or ideas from other authors. Working with your ideas helps in avoiding plagiarism, which citing does too. The latter gives you a scholarly voice.

Always credit other people?s ideas and words. When quoting word to word, use quotation marks and provide the source. But you should avoid using too many quotes in your paper. When you paraphrase, give credit as well through in-text citations. For common facts, there is no need to mention where the idea came from.

11.?Proofread, edit, and submit your nursing paper on time

Now that your paper is written, you need first to pat yourself in the back. You have done exemplary work, but you are not out of the woods yet. You need to ensure that your research paper meets the strict requirements for nursing research papers. You must always edit your paper before turning it in.

Begin editing for content by looking at the structure, organization, length, and wording. Then, go ahead and look at the thesis statement and how you have developed it in the paper. Does it need to be changed? If yes, tweak the thesis in your introduction and let your conclusion reflect the same. To ensure everything is correct, use our nursing research paper checklist.

Equally, you can hire a nursing research paper editor to assess the instructions, requirements, and paper you?ve written. If there are areas to be changed, the editor will check and change them. They can also proofread the entire paper. When you have feedback from your professor and need someone to integrate the changes, our language and nursing experts from Gradecrest can always help you.

Checklist: Writing a nursing research paper

A good nursing research paper demonstrates knowledge of your topic, advanced organization, and proper formatting. At the same time, it should follow the style requirements. Once you have completed the paper, use the following checklist to evaluate whether your nursing paper should be submitted or revised further.

  1. I have followed the instructions as outlined in the assignment prompt and Rubric.
  2. The paper has the right title page.
  3. The introduction presents the topic, background information, and other relevant information in an engaging way.
  4. The introduction has a focused, clear, and concise thesis statement and problem statement.
  5. The introduction outlines the nursing research issue or problem the research paper addresses.
  6. The paper has a logical flow from start to end.
  7. The paper has organized paragraphs and sections.
  8. Every title is formatted as per the formatting style requirements.
  9. Each paragraph has a focused central idea with a clear topic and conclusion sentence.
  10. Each paragraph builds on the thesis statement and is relevant to the nursing issue under investigation.
  11. The paper has transitions that clarify the connections between paragraphs, sentences, and sections.
  12. The literature review section outlines the theoretical and conceptual constructs.
  13. The literature review uses data and information from peer-reviewed scholarly nursing journals published within the last five years.
  14. The methodology section outlines the sample, sampling, methods of data collection and analysis, and rationale.
  15. The discussion ties the findings to the literature review and is critically written.
  16. The recommendations stand out.
  17. The conclusion is concise and answers the research question or shows how the thesis is supported.
  18. The conclusion does not introduce new points or ideas.
  19. The paper has an alphabetical reference list, and each is included in the in-text citations.
  20. The paper is devoid of grammar, syntax, and punctuation errors.
  21. The paper addresses the feedback from my professor/teacher.
  22. The paper follows the formatting guidelines.

If your research paper meets all the listings in this checklist, you are free to complete the entire process by submitting the paper in the appropriate format.

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