Research Resources


Do you have questions about oncology nursing research? The CANO/ACIO Research Committee is here to help! We have developed some helpful resource guides for key topics and questions that researchers may have.

Please feel free to email us with your thoughts, questions, or ideas for future entries:

  1. What is the difference between a scoping review and a systematic review?
  2. What is evidence-based practice in oncology nursing?
  3. Where would I find evidence to inform my oncology nursing practice?
  4. What is knowledge translation?
  5. How do I generate a good nursing research question?

What is the difference between a scoping review and a systematic review?
(Submitted by Aronela Benea, BScN, MScN)

There are many types of literature reviews. As new research methods are emerging, the way of reviewing the literature is also evolving in order to encompass the current evidence in a comprehensive, meaningful manner. While all literature reviews try to answer the question of existing evidence on a certain topic, there are difference in terms of the purpose, the methodology, and the extent of reviews.

Scoping reviews, also called mapping reviews may be conducted to identify the extent and nature of research evidence in a specific area and to refine further research questions. Scoping reviews can be used to map the relevant concepts, help identify the boundaries of a research area, clarify the conceptual definitions, or determine the need for systematic reviews. The type of literature review is very relevant to emerging research areas where the evidence is not sufficient for systematic reviews.

Systematic reviews are used to identify, appraise, and synthesize the evidence that meets pre-establish criteria in order to answer specific research questions. The systematic review that involves combining the results of individual studies to produce an overall statistic is called meta-analysis. Special attention is given to reducing bias as the final goal of systematic reviews is to facilitate decision making.

Summary of main differences between scoping and systematic reviews:

  1. The aim of scoping reviews is to determine the type of evidence available on a topic and map it out while the systematic reviews are designed to answer specific research questions.
  2. Scoping reviews frameworks are more flexible and still evolving. Systematic reviews use specifically defined methods in order to reduce bias and enhance reliability.
  3. Scoping reviews can include a wide range of study designs and articles published in peer reviewed journals and grey literature. Systematic reviews have stricter inclusion criteria.
  4. Scoping reviews do not typically assess the quality of the reviewed studies, while systematic reviews pay special attention to study methods and risk for bias.


Gough, D., Thomas, J.& Oliver, S. (2012). Clarifying differences between review designs and methods. Systematic Reviews, 1(28), doi: 10.1186/2046-4053-1-28. Retrieved from

Levac, D., Colquhoun, H. & O'Brien, K. (2010). Scoping studies: Advancing the methodology. Implementation Science, 5(69), doi: 10.1186/1748-5908-5-69. Retrieved from

Pham, M.T., Rajic, A., Greig, J.D., Sargeant, J.M., Papadopoulos, A., & McEwen, S.A. (2014). A scoping
review of scoping reviews: Advancing the approach and enhancing the consistency. Research Synthesis
Methods, 5, 371-385. doi: 10.1002/jrsm.1123. Retrieved from

Other Resources:

Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR)

Cochrane Library

Joanna Briggs Institute

Peters, M. D., Godfrey, C. M., Khalil, H., McInerney, P., Parker, D., & Soares, C. B. (2015). Guidance for
conducting systematic scoping reviews. International Journal of Evidence-Based Healthcare, 13(3), 141-146.

What is evidence-based practice in oncology nursing?
(Response submitted by Sally Thorne, RN, BSN, MSN, PhD, CANO/ACIO Research Committee Chair)

Evidence-based practice, whether it be medical or nursing practice, is that which is built upon a foundation of strong, scientifically sound knowledge. The term is used to distinguish certain practices from those that have evolved through non-scientific processes, such as pattern recognition and clinical experience. It is especially relevant when common practices are found to be unhelpful or even harmful. In the health care world, many people have come to assume that an “evidence-based” intervention is always preferable to one that is not. Therefore, nurses have put considerable effort into trying to strengthen the science underlying what they consider “best practices” while also realising that there are many aspects of our work for which science is unlikely to confirm a benefit. Because so much of what nurses offer to patients is based on values and principles (such concepts as holism, dignity, social justice, compassion and cultural safety), many nurses use the expression “evidence-informed practice” to acknowledge that nursing celebrates and relies on multiple “ways of knowing” including, but not limited to, science.

Key Resources for understanding Evidence-Based Practice

  • Canadian Nurses Association’s position statement on position statement on evidence-informed decision-making and nursing practice:
  • Canadian Nurses Association’s Nurse website contains a wealth of resources related to the history and tradition of evidence-based practice, types of evidence, and the relationship between evidence and “best practices.
  • Oncology Nursing Society’s Evidence-Based Practice Resource Area: Resources to learn how to use evidence-based practice in your setting (includes definitions, steps involved in the evidence-based practice process, clinical topics, slide presentations, webcasts, and articles)
  • National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools: Online learning modules and other interactive resources that help build skills and capacity in putting evidence into practice

Where would I find evidence to inform my oncology nursing practice?
(Response submitted by Krista Wilkins, RN, PhD, CANO/ACIO Research Committee member)

Evidence-informed nursing practice involves “the explicit, conscientious and judicious consideration of the best available evidence to provide care” (Canadian Nurses Association, 2010, p. 1). Evidence includes information acquired through research, practice knowledge, expert opinion, and other available resources. It is generally agreed that nursing practice should be responsive to many factors beyond research, including client preferences, individual values, cultural and religious norms, legislation, ethics, regulations, resources and practice environments.

Examples of Evidence Based Guidelines

Key resources to find free, open-access evidence and implementation strategies:

  • Best Evidence for Nursing+: Databases of articles (from over 110 clinical journals) that are rated for quality, clinical relevance and interest by a worldwide panel of practicing nurses

  • Canada’s Evidence-Informed Healthcare Renewal Portal: Repository of Canada’s Evidence-Informed Healthcare Renewal Portal: Repository of synthesis of research evidence related to healthcare delivery, economic evaluations, descriptions of health systems and reforms

  • Joanna Briggs Library: Database of systematic reviews, implementation reports, best practice information, and rapid appraisals of published papers

  • National Guideline Clearinghouse: Public resource for evidence-based clinical practice guidelines

  • Oncology Nursing Society’s Putting Evidence into Practice: Evidence for interventions for nursing-sensitive patient outcomes specific to oncology nursing practice

  • Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario’s Best Practice Guidelines: Published guidelines and resources to support implementation

  • The Cochrane Library: Database of well-conducted controlled trials and reviews which summarize and interpret the results of health research

  • Virginia Henderson International Nursing e-Repository: Repository of nursing research and evidence-based practice resources


What is knowledge translation?
(Response submitted by Dawn Stacey, RN, Ph.D, CONC(C), CANO/ACIO Research Committee member)

Knowledge translation (KT) is the application of scientific evidence into practice – which is much more complicated than simply disseminating the results of research and hoping that it gets taken up in the practice world. The term has come into common use to refer to what used to be called “research utilization” or putting knowledge into practice. Sometimes you will hear it referred to as “implementation science”. In recognition of the complexity involved in making any kind of practice change, knowledge translation has become an important area of study all on its own and you can find lots of good resources to help you work with it.

Key resources to learn about the science and practice of KT:

RNAO’s Toolkit: Implementation of Best Practice Guidelines, Second Edition

KT Clearinghouse

CIHR Knowledge Translation and Commercialization Publications

Knowledge Translation in Health Care: Moving Evidence to Practice. Presentations based on 2009 chapters.

Examples of evidence-based KT resources for oncology nurses:

How do I generate a good nursing research question?
(Response submitted by Sally Thorne, RN, BSN, MSN, PhD, CANO/ACIO Research Committee Chair)

The best research questions in oncology nursing come from an informed curiosity about nursing practice. Although nurses are concerned about all aspects of their patient experience, their disciplinary expertise orients them toward questions around supporting patient experiences throughout the cancer journey and strengthening and informing systems of care. Although nurses may also play an important part in research originating from questions other health care disciplines as (such as the efficacy of a particular drug or treatment), the kinds of research questions that originate from a nursing perspective are often quite different from those designed to support the research of other health disciplines.

Resources to help you identify good research questions:

Nursing research texts often offer guidance on this process. Some open access resources you might want to begin with include:

“Identifying Clinical Research Questions that Fit Practice Priorities” is a great slide presentation by the Duke Translational Nursing Institute (at Duke University, North Carolina). It is an excellent resource for helping you identify good nursing research questions.

“Research Questions, Hypotheses, and Clinical Questions” is a freely available book chapter by Judith Haber on the process of formulating research questions

[From LoBiondo-Wood, G. & Haber, J. (2013). Nursing Research: Methods and Critical Appraisal for Evidence-Based Practice. Mosby.]

Resources to connect you with other nurses in the process of developing good research questions:

Canadian Association for Nursing Research is an interest group of the CNA designed to foster research-based nursing practice and practice-based nursing research.

The Canadian Nurses Association (and many of the provincial nursing associations) can be a great resource for finding out about Research Networks

Last updated: July 19, 2016

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