Explain what is required to another person or discuss the details (this can help you to understand it better).


Assessment #2 – Review protocol/strategy (2500 words) (55%) (Graded)

This assignment requires you to identify a research question, apply and describe the PICO and PIO framework, develop key words and their combinations, use these to search an online Health database to identify 4 relevant primary research studies/articles that will enable you to answer your research question, to enter relevant information from the chosen research articles into appropriate table(s) and to discuss the best and worst chosen research article and why

Please refer the Course Outline for full assessment instructions.

Analysing the assessment instructions

For longer assessment questions you need to consider a number of requirements and how these come together in your final assignment. If you are having trouble understanding what you are being asked to do, the following strategies can help you:

• Read all of the assessment information to get an overview of what is expected. You will probably need to read it a few times before it is clear in your mind.

• Explain what is required to another person or discuss the details (this can help you to understand it better).

• Draw a diagram or flow chart of how the question and its parts fit together.

• Go back to the instructions as you are preparing and writing the assignment to check if you are keeping on track with answering it.

Step 1: Identify the task words

Task words are words which tell you what you need to do (e.g. identify, analyse, outline, discuss).

There may be a number of task words that you need to consider. Underline the task words on the assessment information and check that you understand the meaning. For more information on understanding assignment and instructions words go the L3 student resources hub and check under ‘Improving your academic skills’ in the Planning section.

What task words did you find? Did you find any of these below?

• develop

• use

• plan

• describe

• discuss

• identify

• list

• reflect

• state

• summarise

What do they mean in relation to the assessment and what you have to do in each section?

Step 2: Identify the content words

Content words are words which tell you what you need to (i.e. the content area). Read the assessment instructions again and underline the content words.

To find the content words, use the task words and add ‘what?’ For example:

• develop what?


1. a research question from the Nursing clinical scenario

2. key words and their combinations

• apply and describe what? a PICO or PIO framework

• use what? an online health database to search for research articles relevant to your question

• discuss what? the best and worst research articles and why

Step 3: Identify the limits

What limit is there on the structure and layout?

• must use the assignment 2 template provided

• must use Harvard referencing UniSA style

What is the word limit?

• 2500 words (see assessment instructions for breakdown of words required)

Step 4: Check the marking criteria

Read the marking criteria including the assessment objectives to gain further understanding of what you will be assessed on. Refer back to these as you prepare your assignment.

Using a framework

Once you have written your question to be searched, the first step is to identify the main ideas in your research question, e.g. in the example the 3 main ideas are:

1. older adults in a residential aged care facility

2. effect of music therapy

3. cognitive decline and quality of life

The next step is to use the PICO or PIO framework to break down your ideas into more precise groups.

For the example question, the PICO framework would be used to identify the Population of interest , the Intervention , the Comparison , and the Outcome .

For example:

• P: older people (> 65 years) permanently living in aged care facilities

• I: music therapy (including all types of musical instruments and/or singing and/or recorded music)

• C: routine/normal care (ie: no music therapy)

• O: decreased cognitive decline, improved quality of life

Searching databases

You will sometimes hear or see the words platform or provider. These terms refer to the software interface used by the companies that make the databases available. Some of the platforms currently include: EbscoHost, Ovid and Informit.

Databases may be part of a platform or can be stand alone. For example,

• Medline and Embase are on the Ovid platform.

• Ageline, CINAHL, PsychINFO, and ERIC are all on the EbscoHost platform.

• Informit is an Australian platform that contains databases such as Health Collection and Health and Society, among others.

• Web of Science Core Collection is on the Web of Science platform.

Primary databases

These databases report original research, for example randomised controlled trials (RCTs), or clinical trials. They may contain some systematic reviews (SRs) and meta-analyses. These are generally very large databases. Some may be discipline specific e.g. Medline, Embase, CINAHL and others are multidisciplinary, for example Scopus, Web of Science.

Secondary databases

These contain syntheses of original research i.e. they gathers, filters, evaluates and critiques literature from the primary databases. These are smaller databases, and usually contain reviews, for example systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

Choosing a database

To find an appropriate database, look at the list of A-Z Databases. The link can be found on the Library’s homepage underneath the search box.Suggested databases include:

• Medline (discipline specific/all peer reviewed)

• Pubmed* (discipline specific – public version of Medline/not all peer reviewed)

• Cinahl (discipline specific/not all peer reviewed)

• Informit Health databases (discipline specific – and contains Australian material not found anywhere else/not all peer reviewed)

• Scopus (multidisciplinary/not all peer reviewed)

• Web of Science (multidisciplinary/all peer reviewed)

* This database is freely available after you leave University, although Medline via Ovid is also available to staff in South Australian public hospitals.

Once you have your research question, PICO breakdown, and some ideas about other terms you could search for, the first step is to develop key words and then some combinations

To do this you simply take the framework and develop key words and their alternatives and look at how you are going to combine them using AND / OR. The NOT operator should be avoided as it is poor practice. Most of the time you should be able to construct a comprehensive, reliable search without it.

Taking the example from the previous page:

• P: older adult*, elder*, older people, residential aged care facilit*, nursing home*, aged care home*

• I: music, music therap*, music program*, sing*, instrument*

• O: cognitive decline, cognitive function, quality of life (QOL)

It is easy to see which terms should be combined with: AND / OR. You always combine terms that mean similar things with OR and terms that mean different things with AND:

o older adult* OR older people OR residential aged care facilit* OR nursing home* OR aged care home*


o music, music therap*, music program*, sing*, instrument*


o cognitive decline OR cognitive function OR quality of life OR QOL


There are also some things you can do to make searching easier, such as using truncation, wild cards and phrases. While most databases use the * for truncation (taking the stem of a word and looking for all variations in word ending – fall* will find fall, falling, falls and so on), the symbols used for wildcards and how you enter phrases will change depending on the database.

Saving your search history is useful in case you need to rerun the search at a later time. Elements to record include:

• Title of database searched

• Name of the host

• Date search was conducted

• Years covered by the search

• Complete search strategy (including all search terms, truncation, wildcards, phrases, boolean operators and any limits applied)

• Any language restrictions

Now we need to enter the search into a database. The database we are going to use is PubMed and the two short videos on the next page will take you through some of things you need to know about searching this database.

You should always carefully evaluate the results of your search. Some questions to ask may include:

• How well does each research article match your research question?

• How well do the articles match the conceptual framework (e.g. PICO or PIO) you are using?

Identification of relevant articles

Once you have identified your research articles by searching the online Health database(s), you need to start looking through them to identify which 4 articles are the most relevant for your question.


Begin with the title. This can often tell you almost all you need to know about whether the identified article is suitable or not.

Ask yourself:

• does the title of this article seem to match my key words and combinations?

• does the title of this article seem to address my developed research question?

• Is it a primary research study? (Note you should reject literature reviews, commentary’s, study protocols, opinion and discussion papers)

If the answer to these questions is yes, then tick the box next to the record to mark it for printing, saving or export to bibliographic management software.

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