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July 12, 2018

Principles of Research and Evidence-Based Practice

            In a world where there are quests and thirsts to advance knowledge, to learn and acquire new skills, research is vital. We all have done some research in some way or the other, whether personal, academic, or work-related. Research is defined as the systematic inquiry to generate new knowledge and refine or validate a specific subject’s existing knowledge. In essence, a researcher’s principal objective is to produce new information and add to an existing knowledge body in a specific area, which could be directly applicable for practice or the knowledge that needs further verification before application. The process of research has been well illustrated in the literature. Scientific research methods are based on a research problem definition, which is used to formalize a research protocol to answer the research question. One example of a research question is as follows: “Does the use of sitters prevents hospitalized elderly patients from falling?” (Mohammadi, 2016).

            Researchers publish approximately 1.5 million journal articles each year. The assumption is that this literature can be used by other researchers, stakeholders, and the broader society because it is trustworthy, robust, rigorous, and complete. The approach taken to validating research and its outcomes differs depending on the nature of the research. For example, to rigorously examine the effects of a health intervention, trial participants (human or animal) are typically required to be randomized between the intervention being studied. Many researchers advocate registration of protocols to ensure transparency, reduce bias, discriminate between exploratory and confirmatory modes of research, and provide insight into ongoing research projects. Reporting guidelines can then ensure complete and transparent reporting of the researchers’ methods and results (Moher et al., 2020).

           According to Moher et al. (2020), five principles of research were identified. First, assess researchers on responsible practices from conception to delivery, including developing the research idea, research design, methodology, execution, and effective dissemination. Second, value the accurate and transparent reporting of all research, regardless of the results. Third, value opens science practices (open research) such as open methods, materials, and data. Fourth, value a broad range of research and scholarship, such as replication, innovation, translation, synthesis, and meta-research. Lastly, value a range of other contributions to responsible research and scholarly activity, such as peer review for grants and publications, mentoring, outreach, and knowledge exchange. To implement some of these principles is likely straightforward, although it might not be the case for all principles. To do so requires more understanding of the complexities of today’s research environment, such as the availability of institutional infrastructure, whether current CV formats are optimal to collect best practices, enabling transparency about career assessment, and considering closer alignment with funders’ policies.

           Research and evidence-based practice (EBP) are connected. EBP is an attempt to answer clinical questions by evaluating the existing evidence. Scientific evidence is considered the main component of the overall structure of EBP; by using EBP, advanced practice nurses apply the most credible evidence to deliver the necessary care procedures under all circumstances. The fundamental components of EBP methodology are embedded in the PICO model, used to frame the EBP question. PICO is a leading technique in EBP and is defined as follows: P (identification of patient or population problem to specify the primary concern, complaint, disease or health status of the patient), I (identification of the intervention used to address the problem), C (comparison of the main alternatives of the intervention), and O (recognition of the expected outcome). A systematic search strategy is the root of the evidence obtained from the research, theories, clinical literature, and clinical knowledge based on experts’ opinions. Therefore, the principal sources of evidence are research, theory, and theory-based research findings. If EBP is separated from research and theory, it has been disconnected from its origin and is devoid of meaning and scientific value (Mohammadi, 2016).  

           Still, some health care researchers tend to neglect this intrinsic and essential relationship, insisting on EBP without considering the significance of conducting proper research and devising a proper theory as the foundations of the evidence, outcomes, and products of qualitative research. This is an outright diversion from the subject of proper research, which is against the principles of EBP. An important distinction between research/theory and EBP is that EBP accounts for patients’ preferences concerning intervention. For example, in hospitalized elderly patients (P), how does bed alarms (I) compare to the use of sitters (C) affect the rate of falling (O)? EBP adopts a problem-solving approach based on the most reliable evidence, clinical expertise, and patient preferences to answer questions (Mohammadi, 2016). Using research evidence and incorporating the problem-solving approach of EBP, advanced practice nurses will carefully improve patient outcomes.


Mohammadi, E. (2016). A Reflection on Research, Theory, Evidence-based Practice, and Quality Improvement. Journal of Evidence-Based Care, 6(1), 79–80.

Moher, D., Bouter, L., Kleinert, S., Glasziou, P., Sham, M. H., Barbour, V., Coriat, A.-M., Foeger, N., & Dirnagl, U. (2020). The Hong Kong Principles for assessing researchers: Fostering research integrity. PLoS Biology, 18(7), 1–14.

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