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Communication Disorders and Special Education

Evidence-Based Practice Research

Evidence-based practice is integrating practices that have been proven to be effective in research into the clinical setting (Sackett, 1996). It is a common practice in many fields, including nursing, special education, and therapeutic recreation.

What are the characteristics of research articles that use evidence-based practice?

Articles that are based on evidence-based practice research can be case studies or large-scale studies based on a more broadly tested practice. They include some type of intervention and include an analysis of the data collected.

Case Study: An in-depth study of a specific research problem. In Therapeutic Recreation, case studies typically document the treatment of one person or a small group of people.

Example Case Study: Hanley, I. G. (1984). Memory aids in reality orientation: a single case study. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 22(6), 709-712.

Large Scale Study: Unlike a case study, a large scale study uses a large sample of subjects. For example, a research study that takes place at 50 clinics across the country would be a large scale study, but a study that takes place at one lab or clinic in isolation would be a case study.

Example Large Scale Study: Su, T. W., Wu, L. L., & Lin, C. P. (2012). The prevalence of dementia and depression in Twaiwanese institutionalized leprosy patients, and the effectiveness evaluation of reminiscence therapy: A longitudinal, single-blind, randomized control study. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 27(2), 187-196.

Literature Review: A comprehensive survey of the works published in a particular field of study or line of research, usually over a specific period of time, in the form of an in-depth, critical bibliographic essay or annotated list in which attention is drawn to the most significant works.

Systematic Review: A literature review focused on a specific research question, which uses explicit methods to minimize bias in the identification, appraisal, selection, and synthesis of all the high-quality evidence pertinent to the question. Systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials are so important to evidence-based medicine that an understanding of them is mandatory for professionals involved in biomedical research and health care delivery.

Example Literature Review: Lazar, A., Thompson, H., & Demiris, G. (2014). A systematic review of the use of technology for reminiscence therapy. Health Education & Behavior, 41(1), 51-61.

Most databases don't have a search limiter to weed out evidence-based practice articles. Here are a few tips that will help you find articles AND to figure out whether or not the articles that you find meet the criteria for your class assignments.

How do I find peer-reviewed research articles that use evidence-based practice?

Use the particular intervention or strategy as a keyword in your search. Pair it with a topic. For example: reminiscence AND dimentia

PRO TIP: Watch Out For Literature Reviews!

Oftentimes, literature reviews of evidence-based practice will also appear in your search results, especially if you used "evidence-based" as a keyword. Be sure to look closely at the article that you find. If it is a literature review, it could lead you to a useful article, but it is not an evidence-based practice research article, it is a review of the research that has been conducted.

PRO TIP: Examine Case Studies Carefully!

Some case studies will be very useful for your research and assignments, but avoid case studies that use only one subject. Implementing an intervention on just one person can certainly help to build a case for its use, but unless the intervention has been proven to be successful in practice in a significant number of subjects, you can't really say that it is an evidence-based practice.


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Literature Reviews

A literature review is a "comprehensive survey in a particular field of study or line of research, usually over a specific period of time, in the form of an in-depth, critical bibliographic essay or annotated list in which attention is drawn to most significant works. 

From: Online Dictionary of Library and Information Science by Joan M. Ritz. 

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Peer Review

Peer Review (in academic publishing): If an article is peer-reviewed, it means that it has been reviewed by an expert in that discipline and checked for accuracy and validity, and follows best practices in that field.

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