Systematic or Integrative Review as Research Project for Graduate Study

Wednesday, 14 July 2010: 11:40 AM

Karin (CS) Minnie, PhD, RN, RM
School of Nursing Science, North-West University (Potchefstroom Campus), Potchefstroom, South Africa
Christa Van der Walt, PhD, MEd, MSocSc, BArtSc, BEd, RN, RM
School of Nursing Science, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa, Johannesburg, South Africa
Greta Cummings, PhD, MEd, BNSc, RN
University of Alberta, Faculty of Nursing, Edmonton, AB, Canada
Hester C. Klopper, PhD, MBA, RN, RM, BACUR, MCUR
School of Nursing Science, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa

Learning Objective 1: understand the benefits of using systematic or integrative review as research method for graduate study;

Learning Objective 2: understand the practical issues and challenges involved in using systematic or integrative review as research method for graduate study.

Purpose: Systematic review is an established way to identify best evidence regarding effectiveness of specific interventions. The synthesized evidence can then be used to inform clinical practice or form the basis for best practice guidelines. Integrative literature reviews are often used to establish the state of the science relative to a specific phenomenon.  The structured process followed in such reviews (searching, finalizing the sample through critical appraisal, data-extraction, summarizing/synthesizing and drawing conclusions) corresponds largely to the research process. To execute reviews, the student must understand research methodology generally and research methods specifically - particularly design, rigour, data quality and data analysis, including statistics.  We found that in this process students learn more about research methododologies and methods that in many other teaching strategies. The spesific purpose of the study was to explore and describe the experiences of students and their supervisors regarding the value and implications of using systematic or integrative reviews as research methods in graduate studies

Methods: In the last few years, three master’s and two PhD students used systematic or integrative review as research methods for their research projects at our School of Nursing Science. All students and supervisors were asked to write reflective notes on their experiences, the value and practical considerations related to use of systematic or integrative review as method in research.

Results: Analysis indicates that both students and supervisors find the use of reviews valuable especially as way to learn about a variation of research studies through critical appraisal. Students found it the procedural methods more difficult than anticipated. Supervisors mentioned challenges like identifying examiners as not all researchers are yet familiar with using reviews as research methods.

Conclusion: Systematic and integrative reviews can be promoted and used as research methods for Masters and Doctoral students. This can potentially lead to early publications in the thesis process to disseminate findings.