List of Nursing Resources on the Purdue OWL
These resources will help you write on the job and in the classes you will take to become a nurse.
"Writing as a Professional Nurse" provides three general, though important, rules working nurses should keep in mind while writing reports and charts and while communicating with doctors and patients.
"Writing in the Field" discusses three examples of writing tasks nurses perform: flowcharts, careplans, and narratives.
"List of Nursing Resources" provides links to Purdue OWL resources that both nurses and nursing students might find helpful while writing for work or school. Each link provides a brief description of the resource and how and why it will help nurses and students with their writing tasks.
Contributors:J. Case Tompkins, Eden Tompkins, Elizabeth Angeli
Last Edited: 2016-06-14 21:34:09
As a nursing student, you will write different types of texts, such as research papers and group presentations. All of this writing has common characteristics: to be concise, evidence-based, supported by credible and appropriate research, to be professional, and to follow APA style. This section offers resources that are designed to help nursing students with these and other writing concerns.
American Psychological Association (APA)
APA Style Workshop
APA Citation Rules
APA is used in scientific and social scientific disciplines, including nursing, and standardizes research and citation formats. These links provide information for APA style, with the first link offering an overview of APA style and the second providing specific APA rules and sample APA papers.
APA Paper Sample
This sample shows you how to write and format a nursing research paper in APA.
The Rhetorical Situation
This PowerPoint presentation will help you understand the importance of the context in which you write. There are many factors that influence your writing: you, the writer; your purpose; your audience; your context; and the culture surrounding the context. For example, you will write differently for your professors than you will for your patients. Their varying education levels and different situations, or context, will cause you to use different language and present your topic differently.
This resource will help you with one important part of the rhetorical situation: analyzing your audience and tailoring your writing to fit your audience’s needs. There is also a handout available on this page with a chart to help you with your audience analysis.
Writing Scientific Abstracts
This PowerPoint presentation discusses the importance of writing abstracts and offers tools on how to write them. Abstracts allow you to present information in a clear, concise manner and are part of writing in APA style.
Conducting Primary Research
Primary research is an important component while writing as a nursing student. It allows you to support your argument, or thesis statement, with evidence; this, in turn, creates ethos, or credibility, for you as an author. This link offers many resources about primary research, including how to get started and how to conduct the various kinds of primary research.
Conducting an Interview
This PowerPoint presentation discusses the steps involved in conducting an interview as part of primary research. You may be asked to conduct an interview with clinical nurses, patients, or physicians as part of a writing assignment or research paper. Consult this PowerPoint before contacting your interviewee because it offers tips for how to contact him or her.
Database Research Tutorial from the Purdue Library
Engaging in secondary research, or research that is gathered from existing research performed and published by another author, is an essential part of writing as a nursing student. Using databases is one way to collect information, and this resource links to the Purdue Library’s tutorial on how to use databases.
Searching the World Wide Web
The Internet is a convenient and useful way to gather information; however, nursing professors expect their students to perform research that goes beyond a Google search. This PowerPoint presentation offers strategies for conducting Internet research, and it explains components of using the Internet you may not be familiar with, for example, the visible and invisible web. Use this PowerPoint presentation in conjunction with the database research tutorial for a good overview of how to conduct Internet research.
Evaluating Sources of Information
Not all sources of information are credible or reliable, and it is your job as a nursing student to be able to tell the difference. This resource offers different ways to decipher whether or not a source is credible.
Documenting Electronic Sources
When conducting secondary research, you might come across credible electronic sources that you would like to integrate into your writing. Documenting these sources properly is important because it builds your credibility as a writer, and it shows your readers, i.e., your nursing professors, that you have followed APA guidelines. This resource provides information and links to other resources that will help you properly document electronic sources.
Annotated bibliographies, a summary and/or evaluation of sources, can help you organize your research. This resource explains the purpose of annotated bibliographies and provides examples. There are examples for APA, MLA, and CMS on this page; be sure to follow the APA format, as each citation style differs.
Thesis: Establishing an Argument
This page explains the importance of a thesis and how you can create an effective statement. Thesis statements are important to your writing because they control the paper’s overall purpose. These statements are especially important for you as a nursing student because writing in nursing should be logical, organized, concise, and clear; having a strong thesis will help you achieve this type of writing.
Grammar, Mechanics, and a Brief Discussion about Revision
The Grammar and Mechanics section on the OWL will help you learn how to use correct language. Using correct grammar will help your ethos, i.e., it will build your credibility, and it makes your writing appear more professional. One way to help improve your grammar is by reviewing the pages within the grammar and mechanics section and by completing the grammar and mechanics exercises.
Another way to help correct grammar mistakes is by revising your writing. You can fix most of your grammar errors by reading your paper aloud before you turn it into your professor. Reading your paper aloud also offers you a chance to hear your writing, and you may find that some of the ideas you thought were clear are not as clear or organized as you hoped they would be.
Designing an Effective PowerPoint Presentation
PowerPoint presentations are a useful tool to use when delivering individual or group presentations. This PowerPoint presentation defines the basic elements of a PowerPoint slideshow and discusses how you can use these elements in effective and professional ways.
Personal statements are an important part of the application process for nursing school. This section of resources offers writing samples and information that will help guide you while writing the personal statement. While using these resources and writing your statement, keep in mind the specific application for which you writing, as different nursing schools ask for different types of personal statements, i.e., the applications may ask you to respond to different types of questions.
Résumés and Cover Letters
Résumés and cover letters are important documents traditionally created toward the end of your nursing education, though it never hurts to start creating them during the start of your education. Use these resources to help you create your résumé and cover letter. You also might find it useful to consult the rhetorical situation and audience analysis resources, as these resources will help you understand the context in which and for which you will create your résumé and cover letter.
Links to commonly used databases and sites:
Databases available through the Purdue Library website:
Academic Search Premier
Health Source: Nursing/Academic Edition
For all electronic articles, include the DOI (digital object identifier) in the reference if one is assigned. The DOI is typically listed on the first page of the article or in the detailed record of the citation. [6.31]
Journal article, one author, full-text online database, with DOI [7.01] (Perry, 1973, p.276)
Perry, A. (1973). The effect of heredity on attitudes toward alcohol, cigarettes, and
coffee. Journal of Applied Psychology, 58(2), 275-277. doi: 10.1037/h0035527
Journal article, two authors, full-text online database, without a DOI [7.01] (Baily & Sage, 1988, p.128)
Bailey, C. I., & Sage, G. H. (1988). Values communicated by a sports event: the case
of the Super Bowl. / Valeurs transmises par un evenement sportif: le cas du
"super-bowl". Journal Of Sport Behavior, 11(3), 126-143. Retrieved from
Magazine article, full-text online database [7.01] (“Call of the East”, 2005)
Note: only use article title if an author cannot be found
“Call of the East”. (2005, Feb 19). The Economist. Retrieved from
Magazine article, web [7.01] (Gleadle, 2002)
Gleadle, F. (2002). Playing with food. Wine International, 3(12). Retrieved
Gleadle, F. (2002). Playing with food. Wine International, 3(12).
Newspaper article, full-text online database [7.01] (Hudson, 2004)
Hudson, K. (2004, December 6). Center’s lessons added up. Denver Post.
Retrieved from http://www.lexisnexis.com/articles/593573
Newspaper article, newspaper web site [7.01] (Franklin, 2007)
Franklin, D.T. (2007, November 20). The scientists speak. New York Times.
Retrieved from http://www.thenewyorktimes/articles/78241
Company Web site (Youth, 2010); ("How to cut a cake", 2010); (Youth, n.d.)
Youth, J. (2010, May 5). How to cut a cake the right way. Retrieved from
OR (if no author)
"How to cut a cake". (2010, May 5). How to cut a cake the right way. Retrieved
OR (if no date)
Youth, J. (n.d.). How to cut a cake the right way. Retrieved from