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Author: Denise F. Polit (Author), Cheryl T. Beck (Author)
Essentials of Nursing Research, ninth edition, helps students learn how to read and
critique research reports and to develop an appreciation of research as a path to
enhancing nursing practice.
We continue to enjoy updating this book with important innovations in research
methods and with nurse researchers’ use of emerging methods. Feedback from our loyal
adopters has inspired several important changes to the content and organization. We are
convinced that these revisions introduce important improvements—while retaining
many features that have made this book a classic best-selling textbook throughout the
world. The ninth edition of this book, its study guide, and its online resources will make
it easier and more satisfying for nurses to pursue a professional pathway that
incorporates thoughtful appraisals of evidence.
LEGACY OF ESSENTIALS OF NURSING RESEARCH
This edition, like its predecessors, is focused on the art—and science—of research
critique. The textbook offers guidance to students who are learning to appraise research
reports and use research findings in practice.
Among the basic principles that helped to shape this and earlier editions of this book
are as follows:
1. An assumption that competence in doing and appraising research is critical to the
2. A conviction that research inquiry is intellectually and professionally rewarding to
3. An unswerving belief that learning about research methods need be neither
intimidating nor dull
Consistent with these principles, we have tried to present research fundamentals in a
way that both facilitates understanding and arouses curiosity and interest.
NEW TO THIS EDITION
In the previous edition, we separated chapters on quantitative and qualitative designs
and methods into two separate parts. In this edition, we organized the parts by
methodologic content. So, for example, Part 3 in this edition covers designs and
methods for quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods research, and Part 4 is devoted
to analysis and interpretation in quantitative and qualitative studies. (Please see “The
Text” later in this preface for more information.) We think this new organization offers
greater continuity of methodologic concepts and will facilitate better understanding of
key methodologic differences between quantitative and qualitative research. We are
confident that this new organization will better meet the needs of students and faculty.
Manageable Text for One-Semester Course
We have streamlined the text to make it more manageable for use in a one-semester
course. We reduced the length by organizing content differently and by keeping
essential information in the text while moving background/advanced content online,
making this an 18-chapter book rather than the previous 19 chapters in the eighth
To make this edition even more user-friendly than in the past, we have made a
concerted effort to simplify the presentation of complex topics. Most importantly, we
have reduced and simplified the coverage of statistical information. We eliminated the
chapter on measurement, opting to present a shorter, more digestible section on this
topic in our chapter on quantitative data collection, which is supplemented by
information in the chapter on statistical analysis. In addition, throughout the book we
have used more straightforward, concise language.
In addition to updating the book with new information on conventional research
methods, we have added content on the following topics:
Quality improvement projects, describing how they are distinct from research studies
and evidence-based practice (EBP) projects. This new content is found in Chapter 13.
Clinical significance, a seldom-mentioned but important topic that has gained
prominence among researchers in other health care fields but has only recently
gained traction among nurse researchers. This new content is found in Chapter 15.
The content of this edition is as follows:
Part 1, Overview of Nursing Research and Its Role in Evidence-Based Practice
background of nursing research, discusses the philosophical underpinnings of
qualitative research versus quantitative research, and describes major purposes of
nursing research. Chapter 2 offers guidance on using research to build an evidencebased practice. Chapter 3 introduces readers to key research terms and presents an overview of steps in the research process for both quantitative and qualitative studies.
Chapter 4 focuses on research journal articles, explaining what they are and how to
read them. Chapter 5 discusses ethics in nursing studies.
Part 2, Preliminary Steps in Quantitative and Qualitative Research, further sets
the stage for learning about the research process by considering aspects of a study’s
conceptualization. Chapter 6 focuses on the development of research questions and
the formulation of research hypotheses. Chapter 7 discusses how to retrieve research
evidence (especially in electronic bibliographic databases) and the role of research
literature reviews. Chapter 8 presents information about theoretical and conceptual
Part 3, Designs and Methods for Quantitative and Qualitative Nursing Research,
presents material on the design and conduct of all types of nursing studies. Chapter 9
describes fundamental design principles and discusses many specific aspects of
quantitative research design, including efforts to enhance rigor. Chapter 10
introduces the topics of sampling and data collection in quantitative studies.
Concepts relating to quality in measurements—reliability and validity—are
introduced in this chapter. Chapter 11 describes the various qualitative research
traditions that have contributed to the growth of constructivist inquiry and presents
the basics of qualitative design. Chapter 12 covers sampling and data collection
methods used in qualitative research, describing how these differ from approaches
used in quantitative studies. Chapter 13 emphasizes mixed methods research, but the
chapter also discusses other special types of research such as surveys, outcomes
research, and quality improvement projects.
Part 4, Analysis and Interpretation in Quantitative and Qualitative Research,
presents tools for making sense of research data. Chapter 14 reviews methods of
statistical analysis. The chapter assumes no prior instruction in statistics and focuses
primarily on helping readers to understand why statistics are useful, what test might
be appropriate in a given situation, and what statistical information in a research
article means. Chapter 15 discusses approaches to interpreting statistical results,
including interpretations linked to assessments of clinical significance. Chapter 16
discusses qualitative analysis, with an emphasis on ethnographic, phenomenologic,
and grounded theory studies. Chapter 17 elaborates on criteria for appraising
trustworthiness and integrity in qualitative studies. Finally, Chapter 18 describes
systematic reviews, including how to understand and appraise both meta-analyses
At the end of the book, we offer students additional critiquing support. In the
appendices, we offer full-length research articles —two quantitative, one
qualitative, and one mixed methods—that students can read, analyze, and critique.
Students can model their critiques on the full critiques of two of those studies
provided or compare their work to the ones provided. A glossary at the end of
the book provides additional support for those needing to look up the meaning of a
FEATURES OF THE TEXT
We have retained many of the classic features that were successfully used in previous
editions to assist those learning to read and apply evidence from nursing research:
Clear, User-Friendly Style. Our writing style is easily digestible and nonintimidating
—and we have worked even harder in this edition to write clearly and simply.
Concepts are introduced carefully, difficult ideas are presented thoughtfully, and
readers are assumed to have no prior knowledge of technical terms.
Critiquing Guidelines. Each chapter includes guidelines for conducting a critique of
various aspects of a research report. The guidelines sections provide a list of
questions that walk students through a study, drawing attention to aspects of the
study that are amenable to appraisal by research consumers.
Research Examples and Critical Thinking Exercises. Each chapter concludes with
one or two actual research examples designed to highlight critical points made in the
chapter and to sharpen the reader’s critical thinking skills. In addition, many research
examples are used to illustrate key points in the text and to stimulate students’
thinking about areas of research inquiry. We have chosen many international
examples to communicate to students that nursing research is growing in importance
worldwide. Some of the Critical Thinking Exercises focus on the full-length articles
in Appendix A (a quantitative study) and Appendix B (a qualitative study).
Tips for Students. The textbook is filled with practical guidance and tips on how to
translate the abstract notions of research methods into more concrete applications. In
these tips, we have paid special attention to helping students read research reports,
which are often daunting to those without specialized research training.
Graphics. Colorful graphics—in the form of supportive tables, figures, and examples
—reinforce the text and offer visual stimulation.
Chapter Objectives. Learning objectives are identified in the chapter opener to focus
students’ attention on critical content.
Key Terms. Each chapter opener includes a list of new terms, and we have made the
list more focused and less daunting by including only key new terms. In the text, new
terms are defined in context (and bolded) when used for the first time; terms of lesser importance are italicized. Key terms are also defined in our glossary.
Bulleted Summary Points. A succinct list of summary points that focus on salient
chapter content is provided at the end of each chapter.