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Graduate Nursing: Starting Your Research

Created especially for graduate-level and doctoral-level students in the College of Nursing to guide you through the research process and acquaint you with the many resources available at Falvey Library.

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Choosing Your Topic / Refining and Focusing Your Topic

State your topic in the form of a question:
  • How can nurses contribute to improving the quality of life of children with cancer?
  • What is the position of the Catholic Church on using stem cells taken from discarded embryos for scientific research?
  • What is the contribution of organization theory to the field of nursing administration?
  Consider subtopics and possible contributions from other fields of study, as illustrated in the image below ... What is the contribution of organization theory to the field of nursing administration?

Below: The topic "nursing administration research" and its subtopics. From the MeSH database (see PubMed).



  • Conceptualize and refine your topic by discussing it with a nursing faculty member and fellow students.
  • Is there a professional organization dedicated to ongoing research on the topic or activity you are investigating? To find out, ask your professor, consult a librarian, search Google.
  • Get background on your topic. Get the "big picture." Consult your textbook and other sources that provide an overall treatment of the topic and that place it in its proper context.
  • Try reading an article or two on your topic from a scholarly journal (See the "Journals" tab under your subject), searching in an appropriate database and reviewing some of the article titles and abstracts, or skimming an encyclopedia article on the topic. (Find online encyclopedias here.)


Click here for the help of a research librarian.

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Adapted with permission from the JSCC Library Information Literacy Tutorial.
Comments and suggestions to Barbara Quintiliano, Instructional Design Librarian.

Also Team Leader, Nursing/Life Sciences

bquintil Barbara Quintiliano
Nursing/Life Sciences & Instructional Services Librarian
Falvey Library, Villanova University
800 Lancaster Avenue
Villanova , PA , 19085
Room 225


Last Modified: Thursday, October 15th, 2015