How do I get Started in Nursing Research?

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  • Written By: Simone Lawson
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 15 January 2020
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Getting started in nursing research may initially seem to be a daunting task, but there are several resources available to help. Before attempting nursing research, it is ideal to have at least two to five years of experience as a registered nurse or nurse practitioner. In order to build a strong base for research, it is best to contact an organization such as the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR). Joining with an organization will make collaborating and information sharing much easier and may also serve as a resource for funding projects.To successfully enter the research field, one will need to develop a clear research topic and be able to obtain funding for the research project.

The first step to begin nursing research is identifying a topic or issue of clinical importance. A project tends to be most successful if the researcher has dedication or personal interest to the research topic—pursuing a research project requires persistence and focus. Many nurses develop ideas for clinical research as a result of noticing patterns in patient care issues.


Once a research objective has been identified, personal research on the subject may be conducted. It is good to start by checking with universities, hospitals or other researching agencies to see if identical research has been conducted. If there is similar research being conducted, it may be a good idea to contact the head researcher for collaboration and information sharing. Networking is an important component to nursing research, so developing ties with those who share similar interests may prove to be very beneficial when conducting various trials.

Prepare to invest a large amount of time to reading, writing and speaking about the project. Background research and a broad knowledge of the research topic may play an essential role in obtaining support and funding. Identifying a specific research question may be the most important part of the nursing research process.

Obtaining funding is the next hurdle to jump when attempting to begin a nursing research project. The ability for a project to obtain funding is often dependent upon the nurse’s ability to present the topic in a clear, concise and confident manner. Know as much as possible about the topic and all relevant past research and be prepared to defend the idea.

There may be local resources or agencies available to support a smaller research project, but often funding is obtained by providing a grant proposal. A well-written and researched grant proposal will open up many opportunities for support. Many nurses do not have experience with writing grant proposals and may need to hire someone to assist with the process. If funding is not available to hire a grant writer, there are courses and training sessions available that specifically focus on grant writing.

It may be beneficial to find a local networking group, such as a nursing research society or association. The NINR may also be a beneficial resource when attempting to obtain funding. The institute works to provide nurses with information regarding relevant grant funding for their area of research.


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