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Use this flowchart to:

  • Help determine the type of project you want to do.
  • Follow sequential steps with information aimed at saving you time and frustration.
  • Connect to the resources you need to be successful.
ALL STUDENTS: Pay particular attention to Step 5.


Before you get too far along, make sure you are clear on the TYPE of project you are about to get involved with.

Projects can be either Quality Improvement, Evidence-Based Practice or a Research Study.

  1. Figure out which type of project you are taking on. See the links below for helpful information.
  2. Do a preliminary review of the literature on your topic.
    • Get an idea of what has already been done.
    • Is there already an answer to your Burning Question?
  1. Develop your Burning Question.
  2. If you are still not sure, contact the Medical Library for assistance.

Resource Links




Your great ideas will need the support of others.

Discuss with your Nurse Leader…

  • Are resources required outside of the department? If so, you will need to discuss with a Nurse Executive/Leader of the impacted areas.
  • Is the project a current priority for the organization? If not, discuss future options with your Project Navigator.
    (See how it may fit with Cone Health's True North metrics.)

Leadership support is crucial.

If your leader green-lights your idea, then proceed but make sure to keep them appraised as your work progresses.




1. You MUST get a Project Navigator to work with you. They need to be someone who will agree to help you on the project.

Consider contacting...

    • Your Department Director.
    • A Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) or Clinical Nurse Educator (CNE).
    • An RN4.
    • A member of the Nursing Research Council.

They will...

    • Guide you through the process.
    • Connect you with resources.
    • Help you to have a successful project.

2. You MUST ALSO email the Nursing Research Council Chair.

Note: Looking ahead: you will be given a presentation for approval. Download the slides here to begin thinking about the presentation.

Resource Links




Touching base with the ORC&D early on will save you time and frustration.

Email the Office of Research Compliance and Development to set up a brief consultation. Your Project Navigator should be included.

They will help you decide if IRB involvement is required. Most QI or EBP projects won't require it, but they "might". So check with the ORC&D first!

Resource Links




ALL students doing work at Cone Health need to comply with these steps.

They are PREREQUISITES for ALL students regardless of degree level, enrolled program or employer.

Cone Health employees enrolled in an academic program are NOT exempt.

  1. Complete and submit a Course Work Request Form (CWRF) found on the Nursing Student Experiences page.

The Course Work Request Form (CWRF) must be sent to

NOTE: a new request is required each semester.

  1. Make sure to have your school IRB approval letter before creating your Cone Health IRBNet account. See Step 7 for more information on completing your submission package to Cone Health.

Resource Links




A preliminary search of the literature is a good idea to:

    • See what has or has not already been done.
    • Develop your Burning Question.
    • Give context to your work.

A more thorough search of the literature should come after your Burning Question has been developed and you are assembling your information for approval and project work.

Contact the Medical Library for assistance. Their Doing Research Guide has tips for searching as well as templates for evaluating your articles.

Resource Links



IRB (Institutional Review Board)

If you are not sure whether or not your project will require IRB review, contact the Office of Research Compliance & Development now. Generally QI or EBP projects will not require it, but it is best to be sure.

If your project will not need IRB review, great. Now you can move on to the next step.

If your project DOES need IRB review, then you will need to create an IRBNet account for your submission package. The ORC&D would have provided you with further information on this process.

STUDENTS need your approved school IRB application. The PI listed on it may be the student, Faculty Advisor or Academic Point of Contact.

When completing the Cone Health IRB application, one of the following MUST be a Cone Health RN. The PI, Co-PI, AI or Project Navigator.

  • Your faculty advisor’s signature approving your study is also required, below the PI signature. (there is not a separate line; have them sign below your name and include their title).

Resource Links




If your project was a QI or EBP, you may have already gotten approval from your departmental leadership. Great!

You also will let the Nursing Research Council (NRC) know about your work.


Research studies and all student work will require a presentation to the NRC.

For those projects that it was determined you need NRC approval, follow the following steps.

  1. Create your IRBNet account if you have not already.
  2. Upload your materials.
  3. When ready to "Submit" your project, you need to "Share" your package in IRBNet.. This is the same this as "Submitting" it for review.

All completed materials must be submitted by the 1st Wednesday of the month to be accepted for that month’s agenda.

It is the expectation that the PI will do the presentation to the NRC.  The presentation template is available in the IRBNet.

The Nursing Research Council (NRC) meets the 4th Wednesday of each month from 10am-11:50am.

The agenda fills up quickly and meetings may be cancelled or your study may be deferred to the following month so prepare ahead.

Cone Health requires ALL investigators conducting research at Cone Health to complete Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) training. (covers working with Human Subjects)

Resource Links




Pick the appropriate type project below...

Quality Improvement (QI)

  • Characterized by a rapid cycle improvement.
  • Increased/improved quality, safety, performance, efficiency, processes, and/or outcomes.
  • Focused to a specific area, localized.
  • Small scale, continuous efforts for improvement.


Evidence-Based Practice (EBP)

  • Characterized by an application of the literature to practice.
  • Translation of current knowledge.
  • Active pursuit of research utilization.
  • Evidence based.

Cone Health subscribes to the Iowa Model Revised as its framework for doing EBP.  Additional information on EBP and the Iowa Model Revised is available for Cone Health employees. NOTE: Cone authentication required if not on campus.


Research Study

  • Scientific investigation.
  • Drives outcomes.
  • Identification of knowledge gaps.
  • Exploration and discovery.


Resource Links




Once your work is done, you will share your findings with the NRC.

  • Email the NRC Chair to get on the agenda.

Collaborate with your Project Navigator (or Point of Contact) for disseminating project results and opportunities for implementing practice findings.

  • Talk to your department leadership.
  • Do a poster or podium presentation.
  • Write and submit an article for publication.