A state of the science paper serves as a forum to discuss and synthesize key findings from primary sources (mainly research papers presented in academic journals) on a topic of interest in a particular discipline. In NURS 5373 the discipline is your selected nursing major (nursing education or nursing administration).
This guide explains key considerations in writing a state of the science paper and the elements to include in the paper.
When writing a state of the science paper it is important to keep the scope of the topic, narrow enough so that you can discuss it thoroughly. For example, a topic such testing and evaluation of nursing students could be narrowed significantly to something like using the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) to evaluate clinical abilities in undergraduate nursing students. A good way to narrow your focus is to start with a broad topic of interested in your discipline that is of some interest to you followed by reading some of the literature in that area. Look for a thread in the literature review that points to a more specific topic.
A state of the science paper is not a pure summary of the information you read on the topic of interest. You are required to analyze, synthesize, and interpret the information you read in some meaningful way. It is not enough to present the material you have found; you must go beyond that and explain its relevance and significance to the selected topic. Establish a clear purpose (focus) in the introduction section of the paper. Use material from your readings in developing and supporting the ideas in your purpose. You are welcome to use the analytical annotated bibliographies that you created in the Administration Role courses.
A state of the science paper reviews the academic body of literature—articles and research presented in academic (peer-reviewed) journals (either print or electronic). Use data bases available in the university library such as CINAHL and MEDLINE. If you are having trouble finding the academic journals on your selected topic ask your committee chair or a reference librarian for help.
The material that you discuss in a state of the science paper is obviously not your own, therefore it is crucial to document your sources properly. Proper documentation is crucial for two reasons: 1) it prevents the writer from being accused of plagiarism and 2) it gives the reader the opportunity to locate the sources the writer has reviewed because they may find them valuable in their own academic pursuits.
No one wants to read a paper that is simply a string of quotes; reserve direct quotations for when you want to create a big impact. Often times the way a quote is written will not fit with the language or the style of your paper so paraphrase the authors’ words carefully and verbiage as necessary to create a well-formed paragraph.
The title you choose for your state of the science paper should give some indication of what lies ahead for the reader. You might consider the process you took in narrowing your topic to help you with your title—think of the title as something specific rather than a vague representation of your paper’s topic.
Consider Your Audience
More than likely your audience will be your academic peers and faculty; therefore, you can make a couple assumptions and choose a writing style that suits the audience. Though your audience may lack the detailed knowledge you have about your topic, they do have similar background knowledge to you. You can assume that your audience understands much of the technical language you have to use to write about your topic and you do not have to go into great detail about background information.
This guide explains each section of a state of the science paper and gives specific information about what should be included in each section.
Follow APA Guidelines
The abstract should be between 100 – 200 words. Describe the paper in short, interesting statements. Include five key words.
Provide a brief and explicit statement of the purpose (focus) early in the paper. Cite the reason for your interest in the topic and the relevance of the selected topic to your major. You may also consider your area of practice and/or planned position following graduation.
Maintain the focus of the paper with inclusion of definitions and a well-formulated purpose statement (aim of the paper). Conclude with a PICO question that will serve as a guideline for your search strategy. Clearly describe the concepts that you will focus on and the relevance to your purpose.
Describe the theory that guides your search and/or relates to your topic. Please include a diagram of the theory. Discuss if your literature search encompasses the whole or part of the theory.
The discussion section is the body of your paper. The discussion section contains information that develops and supports your purpose. This is not a summary of the work that has been published by other authors; rather it is your analysis, synthesis, interpretation, and discussion of the material. When building a discussion stay focused, organize your points, and relate the discussion to the purpose stated in the introduction. You may choose to use APA style levels of heading in this section. Include a discussion about existing models or accepted practice, what is known, science, models, interventions and measurements in research articles.
Describe how the findings from the review of the literature can be used in your practice. Will your practice be changed by your findings or not?
Describe the gaps in nursing and what further research needs to be done. Be very specific with your suggested strategies and recommendations.
A good conclusion should illustrate the key connections between your major points in the discussion section, your purpose, as well as the key connections between your work and the broader discussion-what is the significance of your paper in a larger context? Make some conclusions—where have you arrived as a result of writing this paper? Be careful not to present any new information in the conclusion section.
Include all published works that are cited in the text based on style of selected journal. In-text citations should reflect style of selected journal.