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What is Research and Evidence-based Practice?

What is Research?

In the medical and allied health fields, researchers conduct scientifically-designed experiments to answer specific research questions.  Each study builds on previous research to add a new piece of evidence to the larger puzzle.  The goal of health research is to improve understanding of a particular field or subject area in order to improve technology, care, and decision-making.  

What is Evidence-based Practice?

As a practitioner, it's important to develop an evidence-based practice (EBP).  EBP focuses on using current evidence derived from clinical research studies and analysis, in combination with a practitioner's own experience and judgement.  It's a three-part approach called the three-legged stool of EBP.  The three legs are clinical research, clinical experience, and the patient's preferences.  

Image of the three-legged stool of evidence-based practice.

Clinical research can usually be found in peer-reviewed sources, such as peer-reviewed journal databases.  


Read more about EBP in a peer-reviewed article from Credo Reference..



What Does Peer-Reviewed Mean?

Peer-reviewed sources are sources that have been reviewed for quality by experts and professionals according to industry best practices.  Peer reviewed sources are reviewed before they are published, which is different than many websites. All of the links to library collections are peer-reviewed.  This means that you can generally trust information from the library's collections more than the information on the Web.  

Infographic showing peer-reviewed sources vs. non-peer-reviewed sources


NOT Peer-Reviewed

Created by health care professionals, health researchers, or other expert You don't know who wrote the information
Reviewed for quality by experts according to professional process

You don't if anyone checked the author's facts

Lists the sources and/or research used to create these materials

You don't know where the author got her or his information

Guaranteed to meet the highest quality standards in the field

You can't rely on the quality of information

Peer-Reviewed Library Collections

NOT Peer-Reviewed Websites

Credo Reference Wikipedia
DynaMed WebMD
Nursing Reference Center, Rehabilitation Reference Center
SMART Imagebase Google Images, YouTube
CINAHL Complete Blogs, discussion forums, social media posts
ProQuest Databases, ehow


Reference Sources

Reference sources summarize research information in easy-to-understand articles.  You're probably familiar with reference sources like Wikipedia and  For evidence-based practice, you'll have to use peer-reviewed health care reference sites.  Check out our online reference collections.

Image of reference sources

Images & Media

Of course we find images and stream videos online all the time from YouTube and social media sites.  You want to make sure health care images and videos are professionally created by experts in the field.  Check out our online image and media collections.

Image of sources for images and videos.

Peer-reviewed Journals

Peer-reviewed journals are the best source of research evidence.  They're where health researchers publish results of research studies testing the effectiveness of drugs, interventions, and practices.  

The best peer-reviewed journals aren't usually free, though, so you can't find them through Google.  Since the school buys subscriptions, you can access them for free through the library.  Check out our peer-reviewed journal collections..

Image of journal databases