Choosing Articles for Your Literature Review

Updated: May 23

It seems like nursing school just doesn’t take a break does it? After all the hassle of assignments and clinicals you are now facing your next challenge: Writing a Literature Review Dissertation. But don’t worry because writing a Literature Review is not all that bad. Especially if you have a good plan which to follow.

What is a Literature Review?

A literature review is when you gather a number of studies on the same topic, evaluate their methods and results, and criticise them. Through your critical analysis, you will be able to draw conclusions on that topic.

Where do I start?

The first step in starting your Literature Review is to Create a PICO Question, if you haven’t done that yet then check out: How to Write a PICO Question for Nursing Students

If you have done that already, then *highfive* you’re already a step ahead. The next step is to choose your articles correctly.

But what makes an article reliable and valuable? And how do I select the right one?

Short Version: The most reliable kind of studies are Systematic Reviews, and Randomised Controlled Trials.

Long Version: Just like how you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet, you should believe everything you read in a publication. More over, not all publications have the same quality. Some are better than others.


To make this a lot simpler for everyone, experts in the field of Evidence Based Medicine came up with the Hierarchy of Evidence. This pyramid shows the most reliable and the strongest study at the top, and less reliable ones at the bottom. So, if you want to have a strong founded dissertation, you need to choose studies that:

  1. Have been done in the last 10 years (if you find more recent articles its even better)

  2. Are in a language that you understand fluently

  3. Are systematic reviews or randomised controlled trials

Hierarchy of Evidence Nursing Literature Review

The Hierarchy of Evidence


How do I find these articles?

In many cases, your nursing school will provide a platform for you to search for articles. Through this platform, you will be able to access several databases to search for articles.

The best medical databases include:

  1. Pubmed

  2. EMBASE

  3. Cochrane Library

After reading this you should be set to start off your dissertation journey. Let us know in the comments if you are struggling with anything, and we will be more than happy to help you 🙂

Want to ask questions? Send me a DM on Instagram Nurse.Miriana 🙂


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